De Moor on Science and Scripture

Creation Without Compromise


One of the reasons history is exciting is that you often find others who have dealt with similar questions to the ones you’re dealing with.  No, they’re not usually identical questions, but they are sometimes similar.  When it comes to these similar questions, it’s also interesting to compare the answers given in history to the answers we come up with today.  Here at Creation Without Compromise we’re especially interested in the questions and answers that have to do with the relationship between science and Scripture.

Today’s venture into history takes us to the late 1700s.  By and large Reformed theology had been devastated by philosophical influences associated with the Enlightenment.  There were only a few holdouts who could be described as confessionally Reformed and orthodox.  One of them was Bernhard De Moor (1709-1780).

After serving for several years as a pastor, De Moor took up a position as professor…

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Review: The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible


Some time ago I wrote a review comparing the the ESV Study Bible with the Reformation Study Bible (you can find it here).  Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to get acquainted with another study Bible.  The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (RHSB) was published in 2014 by Reformation Heritage Books.  In some circles, it has been widely acclaimed, whereas others are somewhat less enthusiastic about it.  At the outset, I can say that I heartily recommend it.

RHSB has most of the features that would expect in any study Bible.  There are over 20,000 study notes, introductions for each book of the Bible, an assortment of maps, a reading plan, and a small concordance.  It also has features that one would expect from any Reformed study Bible.  The study notes are orthodox and Reformed in orientation, the articles as well, and in the back pages one can find the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards.  Moreover, I think it can be said that in terms of biblical faithfulness, RHSB is unsurpassed.  For instance, as John Byl has pointed out, RHSB affirms creation in six ordinary days, as well as a global flood in the days of Noah.


There are some unique features to RHSB that I find rather appealing.  There is a section of articles in the back on “How to Live as a Christian.”  Topics addressed include Coming to Christ, Reading the Scriptures, Why and How We Pray, Godly Contentment, How We Kill Pride, and Coping with Criticism.  Such a collection of articles could be helpful, not only for new or young Christians, but also for more mature Christians who are teachable and want to grow in their walk with God (which should be all of us!).  I’m so impressed with this section of the RHSB that I’m considering how I could incorporate some of this material into my catechism instruction.

Another unique feature is the “Thoughts for Personal and Family Worship.”  My wife and I have done daily family worship habitually all our married life.  As part of that, we have read through the Bible front-to-back several times.  As a husband and father, you want to say something edifying about each chapter you read.  It’s not always easy or obvious what to say.  To help with that, for the last few months we have been using this feature of the RHSB and to good effect.  Every chapter of the Bible includes one or two paragraphs with some edifying thoughts or questions about that chapter.  Oftentimes, these thoughts or questions are explicitly designed to point us to Christ and our life in him.  As an example, take 1 Chronicles 1.  The first nine chapters of Chronicles are taken up with genealogies.  It’s tempting to skip these chapters in family worship.  But with the help of the RHSB, you can read these chapters in an edifying way.  Here are the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” on 1 Chronicles 1:

We have all descended from one man: Adam.  The existence of Adam was as much history as the existence of David.  In Adam, we were all made in God’s image and likeness.  God’s purpose for His people therefore remains to fill the earth with His living image.  In Adam, we all sinned and have fallen into spiritual corruption and enduring misery.  We all share the same fallen nature as the Canaanites.  We all die and face judgment, and human life is so transient that from God’s perspective all the generations from Adam to Israel fit on a single page of history.  God’s people consequently must be redeemed by the Lord’s grace if they will ever achieve their high calling and eternal life.  Mankind needs a new Adam.  How has God met that need in Christ?

Obviously these sorts of notes are geared towards older family members, but one should not right away assume that younger children will not get anything out of them or the discussion that comes from them.

No study Bible is perfect.  Any discerning reader will always find things with which to disagree or things that one might wish were different.  For instance, RHSB is committed to the allegorical approach to the Song of Solomon.  So in the introductory notes for that book the theme is said to be “The union and communion of love between Jesus Christ and His church.”  I am not convinced, but I hold that there can be a legitimate difference of opinion amongst believers on this question.

That brings me to the biggest stumbling block that many face when it comes to this study Bible.  Dr. Joel Beeke (the editor) and Reformation Heritage Books are committed to using the King James Version.  In an introduction, there is an explanation for this commitment and I personally respect their explanation.  At the same time, I recognize the value of a translation in more contemporary language.  I know that many will struggle with reading the King James Version.  Some times it’s simply a prejudice which has to be overcome, but at other times there are genuine difficulties.  To be fair to the RHSB, I need to point out that the study notes do contain explanations of all the difficult or archaic words and expressions from the KJV.  I would urge readers not to impulsively write off the RHSB on this point.  The positives I’ve mentioned above by far outweigh this issue.  Moreover, there are workarounds.  You can use the RHSB in tandem with an ESV or some other Bible in a more contemporary translation.  In our family worship, for example, we read from the ESV, but then use the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” from the RHSB.

In our household, we currently only have one copy of the RHSB.  But this one copy is already starting to look ragged from being used so often.  Doesn’t that say something in itself?  Again, it’s not the perfect Reformed study Bible.  After all, it was created by fallible human beings.  Yet I do think it’s fair to say that, in terms of biblical fidelity, this is as good a study Bible as we can find in print today.  The ESV Study Bible may have more resources (maps, charts, etc), but RHSB has it beat in the potential for real spiritual edification.

NOTE:  you may also want to check out this Infographic from Tim Challies comparing different study Bibles.


No, the title is not referring to Ichabod Crane, he of headless horseman fame.  Rather, it refers to what Scripture says in 1 Samuel 4.  After the ark was captured, the wife of Phinehas (son of Eli) gave birth and died shortly afterwards.  As she was expiring, she named the baby “Ichabod” — the name means “the glory has departed.”  Today I’m wondering whether the glory has departed from the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

According to the website Werken aan Eenheid, the church of Utrecht North/West (a.k.a. Opstandingskerk) is going to ordain female elders and deacons next month.  The church made a decision to do this in September 2015 already (you can find it here), but they have waited until now to implement this decision.  Apparently, they are going forward with it.  Other GKVs have already or will shortly ordain women deacons.

What can one say that hasn’t already been said?  This clearly contradicts biblical teaching in such passages as 1 Timothy 3.  It contradicts article 30 of the Belgic Confession.  It slaps in the face sister churches like the CanRC, FRCA, and RCUS.  It endangers the position of the RCN in the the ICRC.  In so many ways and on so many levels, this decision and its implementation leaves one wondering:  is this the Ichabod moment for our Dutch sister churches?  Has the glory departed from the RCN?  Are they in the final stages of giving up the right to be acknowledged as a federation of true and faithful churches of Jesus Christ?


Australia at One Year


On Wednesday it will be one year since we migrated to Australia.  It’s been a crazy year with a lot of changes for our family.  There have been a lot of adjustments to make and it hasn’t always been easy.  Even though Australia and Canada both speak English (at least in theory), and even though both are Commonwealth nations with roots in the British Isles, they have quite different cultures.

Let’s start with the language.  First, there’s the accent.  The Australian accent varies person to person, but also region to region.  Generally speaking, the Tasmanian version is not too difficult to understand.  Yet I still find myself preferring not to talk to people on the phone simply because it gets frustrating always asking them to repeat themselves.  Honestly, sometimes I just guess at what they’re saying!

But moving here has reminded me that I have an accent too.  Upon hearing me for the first time, most Aussies figure I must be an American.  Because there’s a lot of anti-American sentiment, I often try to drop hints that I’m a Canadian.  The other day I had a new experience.  Visiting one of my parishioners in the hospital, I had a nurse ask me if I was Irish.  I replied, “No, definitely not.  I’m a Canadian.”  And then she repeated back to me what I just said with an Irish accent.  It didn’t sound anything like me — at least I didn’t think so!

Then there is the different vocabulary.  They use different words here for things.  While preaching, I’ve sometimes said something like, “It has to be Christ alone.  Period.”  Well, I soon discovered that “period” here is just something a woman experiences.  So now I say, “Full stop.”  I also reckon that I say words like “keen” heaps more.  And once or twice I’ve been crook, whereas I used to get sick.  Australia is different to Canada.

There are other differences.  On paper, a lot of the traffic laws are similar.  You do have to get used to driving on the left-side, but if you just follow the car in front of you, that’s usually not too hard.  It’s parking that can still be challenging — the different perspective can make hard it to judge the distance from your left wheel to the curb or the lines on the parking space.  One traffic law that is different from most of Canada is that you can’t make a turn on a red light.  That’s actually a good protection for people just learning to drive here.

Both Canada and Australia have traffic laws that give the right of way to pedestrians.  However, here you soon learn that’s just a paper fiction.  If you think vehicles are going to slow down and let you walk in front of them, whether in a parking lot (car park) or anywhere else, you’ll soon find yourself in a full body cast.

What about the food?  I’ve definitely learned to appreciate what’s available here.  There is at least one unique Tasmanian food that I’ve tried:  mutton birds.  They’re very rich and flavourful.  But other foods are quintessentially Australian:  pies (meat), TimTams, cheesy Vegemite scrolls, hedgehog slices, lamingtons, snags (sausages) on white bread.  The fish and chips is hard to beat — and, here in Tasmania, scallops are also very popular and tasty.  Tasmanian oysters are the best in the world.  Another cool thing about Australia is the different ethnic foods you can find here.  There’s a lot of Malaysian/Indonesian/Singaporean.  Turkish stuff is pretty popular too:  kebabs (similar to Donairs/shawarma) and Turkish bread.  But if I’m ever feeling the slightest bit homesick for some Canadian chow, we do have a local food truck that sells poutine.

Canadians love to talk about the weather.  Australians do as well.  But you will notice that they experience the weather quite differently.  This place supposedly had winter from June to September.  What was that like?  The average daytime high was about 14 degrees Celsius.  At night, a few times it went down to zero or just below, producing early morning frost.  We didn’t have any snow here, but there was some in the nearby mountains.  For a Canadian recently transplanted, this was just like a cool spring day in Alberta.  If it’s 14 degrees in the middle of winter, we’re quite happy!  But Tasmanian Aussies experience that differently.  They wistfully look forward to the days when the daytime highs get up to 18 degrees again.  In other words, it takes far less of a temperature shift to change their perspective on the weather.

While this isn’t a cultural difference, I do appreciate the variety of wildlife here in Tasmania.  I find it endlessly interesting.  Just in our neighbourhood, we have a great selection of small marsupials:  wallabies, pademelons (small kangaroo-like critters), and potoroos (even smaller kangaroo-like critters).  What about snakes?  In one year, I have seen one snake and that’s with a lot of walking through the bush.  In the trees, we see parrots, cockatoos, galahs, corellas, kookaburras, and the odd wood duck.  Then there’s the fishing.  Tasmania has some of the world’s best trout fishing — pristine streams and lakes with rainbow and brown trout.  After a hiatus of a few years, I’ve taken up fly fishing again.

There’s far more that could be said.  I haven’t said anything about footy (Australian rules football) or about Australian attitudes towards work and leisure.  What about deadlines and schedules?  Australian interest in politics?  Aussie music could be another post all in itself.  However, I’ll knock off here for now.  Suffice it to say that Australia is different, but (most of the time) I don’t find that a bad thing.  It’s just interesting!  Speaking just for myself, I’ve only really had one bout of homesickness.  It lasted about a week and it was about 3-4 months in.   Do I miss Canada now?  There are some things I miss (and especially family and friends), but for the most part I’m seriously okay with being here.  God has brought us here for a reason and I’m glad to be able to serve him here and enjoy the experience of living in a different culture.  I’m content.

New Teaching Tool Added

I’ve just added a resource entitled “A Basic Christian Vocabulary.”  I use this with my pre-confession students to ensure that they’re adequately familiar with the important terms of the Christian faith.  I should say that it has been revised and adapted from the work of someone else.  However, I don’t know who, so I can’t give the appropriate credit.  If someone out there knows, I will leave the comments open on this post.  It was originally published as “Appendix II” in a book, if that helps.