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Thread: A Bit Disappointed

  1. #1

    Default A Bit Disappointed

    If this is in the wrong forum please let me know.

    I read recentlly:
    "UPDATE: figuring that some of you would want to know where BW stands, I've been in some dialogue with them offline, and received this from BibleWorks president Mike Bushell: "The doctrinal position of BibleWorks is that expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms...."(http://teampyro.blogspot.ie/2011/07/software-news-new-version-of-bibleworks.html).

    I was a bit disappointed to read this, as I had always thought that BW did not have a confessional stand or bias. I considered it a scholarly resource for all who want to study the Bible in an unbiased way, focusing on the text.

    Please tell me I was not wrong.
    Noel Fitzpatrick
    Dublin
    Ireland

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure you really do this discussion any favors by not quoting the selection in its entirety.

    "The doctrinal position of BibleWorks is that expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. We attempt to run the company in a manner that is consistent with those doctrinal standards. That does not mean, nor does it need to mean, that all the content included in BibleWorks is consistent with those documents. Because of this confessional commitment, our priorities will necessarily move in a certain direction. It would be dishonest for us to pretend or claim otherwise. But we also believe that our focus on the Biblical text enables us to serve the needs of all students of Scripture, whatever their confessional or creedal position. The one thing that all professing believers have in common is a desire to understand what the Word of God teaches. We try to provide the tools that are necessary for any student of Scripture to study the Word of God in depth."
    So what exactly is your difficulty? That the owner of BibleWorks is Reformed? Personally, I'm Lutheran, not Reformed. If I chose software based on whether it was Lutheran or not, I wouldn't be using software.
    Michael Hanel
    PhD candidate Classics Univ. of Cincinnati
    MDiv Concordia Seminary
    MA Classics Washington University
    Unofficial BibleWorks Blog
    LibraryThing!

  3. #3
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    May 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noel Fitzpatrick View Post
    If this is in the wrong forum please let me know.

    I read recentlly:
    "UPDATE: figuring that some of you would want to know where BW stands, I've been in some dialogue with them offline, and received this from BibleWorks president Mike Bushell: "The doctrinal position of BibleWorks is that expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms...."(http://teampyro.blogspot.ie/2011/07/software-news-new-version-of-bibleworks.html).

    I was a bit disappointed to read this, as I had always thought that BW did not have a confessional stand or bias. I considered it a scholarly resource for all who want to study the Bible in an unbiased way, focusing on the text.

    Please tell me I was not wrong.
    I cannot see how there is a problem:

    1. There is nothing within the program that shows a bias towards any theological position. Yes, it is true that thy have the Westminster Confession of Faith, but they also have The Five Arminian Articles. What they do give us are excellent tools for the study of Scripture.

    2. They never advertise themselves as "Reformed", nor do they directly appeal to those who hold to a Reformed position - "Buy us and support the truth of the Reformed faith". What they do is that they appeal to those with a love of Scripture (from all theological viewpoints) as a tool that aids in the study of those Scriptures.

    3. If you had not told me their theological viewpoint, I would never have known, so they can't be to very obvious with it.

  4. #4

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    Michael,

    many thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    I appreciate BW and would not like to contribute anything that was not positive.

    I did not want to make a major point, just to say I was a bit disappointed. I would prefer BW to be objectively academic and scientific and not have a denominational/confessional base. I would like if all of us could feel at home here.

    You quote more fully than I do.

    I see "The one thing that all professing believers have in common is a desire to understand what the Word of God teaches. We try to provide the tools that are necessary for any student of Scripture to study the Word of God in depth."

    I am happy with this.

    So apologies to anyone who felt I was not constructive.
    Noel Fitzpatrick
    Dublin
    Ireland

  5. #5
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    All these years and I never even knew that BW had a stated doctrinal position. I think their statement (as posted by Michael Hanel, i.e., the full statement) is right on the mark. Of course, I also hold to the Westminster Confession (mostly), but either way, I think it would be far more wrong to NOT hold a doctrinal position when you're engaged in biblical matters. The programmers and staff aren't robots. (I don't think!)

    Like the Lord Jesus said, he prefers cold or hot to lukewarm. Revelation 3:16

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
    The doctrinal position of BibleWorks is that expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. We attempt to run the company in a manner that is consistent with those doctrinal standards...
    By the way, since this is, in fact, the stated position of BibleWorks, I wonder if anyone knows what date BiblelWorks 10 has been predestinated for?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noel Fitzpatrick View Post

    I did not want to make a major point, just to say I was a bit disappointed. I would prefer BW to be objectively academic and scientific and not have a denominational/confessional base. I would like if all of us could feel at home here.
    I think you raise a fine point here (i.e., in starting this thread), but there are definitely some who believe that academic "objectivity" is a myth and that there is no such thing.

    I, for one, have been using BibleWorks since version 7, subscribing to their FB page, and spending time on these forums for a couple years without realizing the "doctrinal position of BibleWorks," for what that's worth....

  8. #8

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    I would still prefer if BW did not have a confessional/doctrinal position. Is the Baptist aorist different from the Episcopalian one? Does the Evangelical nominative mean something other than the Pentecostal one?

    When I open BW9 I am told to "Focus on the text". This is good advice.

    Far be it from be to argue about "Sola Scriptura" but I would like to see all of us here studying the word of God as it is in the Bible.

    However I think BW is fantastic, and I appreciate the help I get from all of you here.
    Noel Fitzpatrick
    Dublin
    Ireland

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noel Fitzpatrick View Post
    I would still prefer if BW did not have a confessional/doctrinal position. Is the Baptist aorist different from the Episcopalian one? Does the Evangelical nominative mean something other than the Pentecostal one?

    When I open BW9 I am told to "Focus on the text". This is good advice.

    Far be it from be to argue about "Sola Scriptura" but I would like to see all of us here studying the word of God as it is in the Bible.

    However I think BW is fantastic, and I appreciate the help I get from all of you here.
    I still think you may be reading the emphasis wrong. He made it pretty clear that the focus of BibleWorks *is* the texts. That is, because of their confessional commitments they believe that the biblical texts are primarily important. The only reason this statement even came to light was because it was sort of demanded by a user after a "firestorm" about whether Logos had a theological agenda and whether including Roman Catholic materials was a heretical move. So one the one hand you can compare programs based on the content that they publish. On this score, BibleWorks provides scores of Bible translations, a heavy emphasis of primary texts even beyond the biblical ones (e.g. Philo, Josephus, Apostolic Fathers), grammars and lexica, a few dictionaries, etc. That shows that they give high value to the biblical texts and even think that having access to other contemporary texts will be an aid to studying the Bible. However they also have included a few secondary resources such as Matthew Henry's commentary and the Westminster Confessions. These tend to be a bit more controversial because they are a lot more theological in nature (i.e. grammars tend not to be as theologically motivated as commentaries, though pure objectivity is a dream). But there's a difference between including these and the Biblical texts. In BW the Biblical texts are always central. This other stuff is added, but you can ignore it and not even let it get in the way. Moreover, if you want more theological resources of your own stripe you can add them (as I have added Lutheran resources to my own version).

    Anyway, I still think you're letting the words affect you more than they should. Like some have said, if they hadn't known about this "theological background", they wouldn't have guessed it. I think that alone tells the tale. There is no secret theological agenda other than believing in the primacy of Word of God, and if that stems from a confessional belief in Reformed creedal statements, I guess I'm okay with that. In this case, as a Lutheran I can echo that same cry, "Ad fontes!" In fact, I think most everyone interested in Biblical software could say the same.
    Michael Hanel
    PhD candidate Classics Univ. of Cincinnati
    MDiv Concordia Seminary
    MA Classics Washington University
    Unofficial BibleWorks Blog
    LibraryThing!

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Michael. I'm in agreement with you. I had no idea that BW had a faith statement somewhere, nor does it bother me now that I know. They provide superb tools that allow me (a Mennonite critical biblical scholar with strong ecumenical tendencies) to do serious, detailed study of the Bible and related texts. The faith commitment of the makers of BibleWorks does not hinder my research or require me to modify my own beliefs, and in that regard I consider what they do a real following of Gal 6:4: "All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride." Also Romans 14 (verse 13: "Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another").

    I hope that doesn't offend anyone who thinks my beliefs ought to be challenged. I guess my position is, read the Bible as unhindered by preconceptions as possible, and let the chips fall where they may. I think the BW tools do a great job of letting that happen.
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

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