Thursday, July 09, 2009

On the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin

500 years ago, on July 10, 1509, a male child was born in France by the name of Jean Cauvin, or as it is in the anglicanized form, John Calvin.

Now, in the way we folks number things, 500 seems like a really cool number. If you were going to celebrate an anniversary that you normally wouldn't bother with, the 500th year would be a much more likely candidate than, to pick a number at random, 324th. So, all of this is to say that it is not unreasonable to celebrate the 500th birthday of any notable person.

For those of us who have an interest in church history, there is more reason to celebrate. Historians are just that sort of folk. Now, when the 500th birthday of a notable historical figure who happened to champion a lot of the beliefs that you hold comes along, well, then, all the more reason to skip work and eat some cake.

All of this is to say, that there is nothing idolatrous in celebrating John Calvin's 500th birthday. So let us celebrate! I'm not skipping work, though. And I probably won't have cake. But oh well.

Now I shouldn't have had to spend all of this space saying all of this except for the fact that I can't think of any person in church history or set of Christian beliefs that is more hated and reviled. People have an unreasoning hatred of anything associated with the name of Calvin, despite the fact that they usually know nothing about him or about "Calvinism".

I could spend some time explaining why I believe that this hatred comes from a supreme love of self, but I will not bother.

I will also forego explaining why "Calvinists" have no particular preference for that name (we normally refer to ourselves as "reformed" or holding to the "doctrines of grace"). I believe that I have written before on this blog that us reformed folk believe what we believe because we are convinced that it is what the Bible teaches, and that most of us believed these things before ever reading anything by Calvin (and many of us still have never read anything by him). Whether Calvin taught these doctrines or not is irrelevant--I believe them because the Bible teaches them. I am not a Calvinist, I am a Paulist, a Jesusist, a Mosesist.

But, since God did use John Calvin to bring back the truth of His Word in a time of great spiritual darkness and manmade traditions and doctrines, then we all can have some cake on this anniversary.

Being as it is this fantabulous number of 500, there are a lot of books and conferences and discussions of Calvin being put out right now. I haven't read or heard them all, but from what I have read and heard, I can tell you this. All of these point past Calvin to the God he believed in, and His glory. His biographers (of which there are many all of a sudden) all say that it is hard to get could first-hand accounts of his life because Calvin did not talk about himself. He talked about the triune God. Calvin's many commentaries and sermons are not filled with fun autobiographical anecdotes, but all stick to the inspired Scripture. He was consumed with a love for God and a desire that His name be hallowed. Calvin did not was his own name hallowed. He would be mortified if he knew there were celebrations of his birthday or books written about him. He even willed that he be buried in an unmarked grave. So all of the lectures I've heard about Calvin lately really focus very little on Calvin himself, but rather expound the Scriptural bases for the things that Calvin taught. And in all areas of theology and Christian living, Calvin always focused on one thing--not predestination as many would expect--but on the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As such, we should only thank God that he gifted His church with such a man to be an undershepherd in time of darkness. It is God alone that gave Calvin the grace to believe and teach the right things. Anything that Calvin taught that was wrong (and there is a fair share of that), is purely Calvin the man. All that he taught that was right was taken straight from the Bible. This, I am sure, is what Calvin would say.

Interestingly enough, while those who are "Calvinists" are celebrating by talking less about Calvin and more about God, those who are opposed to Calvinism, when speaking on the subject, spend little or no time in the Bible, but use all of their energies on a polemic against a mere man.

Oh, and don't say "happy birthday, John Calvin." He cannot (or at least would not) hear you because there are much better things to hear in heaven. Rather, praise God and pray that He send more reformers in our own day of darkness.

Oh, and according to something-or-other, this is my 100th blog post. How about that! Did my free will arrange for my 100th post to fall on Calvin's 500th birthday? Hmmm....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Calvin on Sola Scriptura vs. Sola Ecclessia

Doubtless, were only the Scripture allowed its own authority, there are
none of these things respecting which our adversaries would not be
constrained to be mute. And this is what they by no means dissemble,
when they contend that owing to the ambiguous meaning of Scripture, we
ought to stand solely on the judgment of the Church. Who, I pray, does
not see, that by laying aside the word of God, the whole right of defining
things is thus transferred to them? Though they may kiss the closed copies
of the Scripture as a kind of worship, when yet they charge it with being
obscure and ambiguous, they allow it no more authority than if no part of
it existed in writing. Let them assume specious titles as they please, that
they may not appear to allege anything besides the dictates of the Spirit,
(as they are wont to boast,) yet it is a settled and fixed thing with them,
that all reasons being laid aside, their will alone ought to be believed.

--John Calvin, from the dedication to Edward VI, in the Commentary on the Catholic Epistles

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Expository Genius of John Calvin - a Review

The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven J. Lawson, published by Reformation Trust (Lake Mary, FL: 2007), is part of Lawson's Long Line of Godly Men series. The main volumes are large works dealing with the Doctrines of Grace, one of which has been published so far (Volume One: Foundations of Grace). There are also smaller books looking at some particular aspect of a particular historical figure's life and/or ministry. There are two such books published so far, the one in question and also a book on Jonathan Edwards. This excellent little book is not another biography of John Calvin. Rather, it is study in homiletics, a text book for preachers, if you will. Dr. Lawson argues for our need of solid, biblical, expository preaching, and what such preaching should look like. It just so happens that John Calvin is a model example, and so this book examines the preaching of John Calvin.

Lawson does provide us with a brief biographical look at John Calvin. Of all his many titles and accomplishments, Calvin was primarily a teacher. He is often remembered for his theological precision, his polemics, and his weighty text books, but Calvin thought of himself simply as a preacher who must feed the flock entrusted to him with the Word of God. And this he did, day in and day out, as well as training other men to do the same.

To properly understand Calvin's sermons and preaching, we must first understand his foundations and presuppositions, which Steven Lawson lists as follows. First, Calvin's reliance upon the Bible as the sole authority in all matters. It is the preacher's duty to expound the Scripture, and to say nothing that is not within its pages. Secondly, God is present when His word is preached. Thirdly, preaching the pure Word is the main priority of the worship service. That is when God's people come to hear Him speak to them. Fourth, a verse-by-verse exposition of books of the Bible guarantees that the whole counsel of God will be preached.

Calvin prepared for his sermons by diligently studying and learning of the Scriptures. He lived and breathed the Bible. He devoted himself to godliness because he did not think that a preacher should ask anything of his congregation that he does not demand of himself. Also, he had a relentless will to preach and pastor continuously, all for the glory of God.

John Calvin began his sermons by diving directly into the text he was preaching from. No silly anecdotes preceded the word of God. He would briefly recap what had been previously preached to remind his listeners of the context of the whole argument of the author of the book he was preaching from. Calvin also delivered his sermons extemporaneously, without notes. This provided for a lively exposition rather than a dry reading of a manuscript, as was often done in those days. To make sure that his hearers knew what to expect, he would also start his sermon with a thesis statement for his sermon.

It was Calvin's method to preach from a specific text. He didn't pick a topic and then choose some various verses that might support his thesis. He had the text before him first, and he preached from that, never straying from it. He was careful in using the historical-grammatical method of interpretation; that is, he wanted to discern what the author meant when he wrote the book to his audience. There is only one true interpretation of any given passage of Scripture, and that is what the author intended it to mean. In line with this, Calvin also interpreted the text in the literal sense in which it was written. In determining the meaning of difficult texts, Calvin knew that Scripture is its own interpreter. Thus, he would bring in other, clearer passages of Scripture to explain his text. But even his use of cross-references was sparing, so that he would not stray too far from his initial text. Calvin reasoned persuasively, contrasting truth with error and making use of similes, etc. He also made applications from reasonable inferences of the text, thought he strove to never speculate beyond what Scripture says itself.

Although Calvin very strongly emphasized substance over style, he was nevertheless not without style in his preaching. Despite his incredible intelligence and knowledge Latin, French, and biblical Hebrew and Greek, he always preached in a simple, familiar language that could be easily understood by his audience. However, unlike many preachers today who attempt the same, he still used biblical language. Calvin would employ vivid expressions and ask thought-provoking questions to engage his listeners. He also would offer simple paraphrases of bible passages to explain them. “In other words, the apostle is saying...” as an example. Despite Calvin's being very well-read, he very rarely quoted outside authors. He did not want to obscure the Bible with the words of other men. Though Calvin gave no outline or clever alliteration in his sermons, his sermons still followed the logical flow of the text, with smooth transitions between points. Calvin was effective as a preacher because of his intensity of focus to the text of Scripture.

Mere impartation of knowledge did not constitute a sermon in Calvin's opinion, so he also applied his sermons to the everyday lives of the people in Geneva. Calvin also preached to himself and always included himself in the applications. When exhorting the people to live the truth that was just preached or to examine themselves in light of the truth, he would say, “We must look at ourselves,” or “we must strive,” etc. He did not believe himself to be above the common man in the struggle for sanctification. Calvin also lovingly rebuked the sins that beset the people of that time and place, and he argued polemically against the major heresies of the day, particularly of Roman Catholicism.

In concluding his sermon, Calvin would remind his listeners of the main points that he had provided and heartily appeal for them to be doers of the word. Finally, he offered prayer to God, bringing the congregation into the throne room of God and leaving them coram Deo.

Steven Lawson's concludes the book by urging preachers today to return to biblical, expository preaching. He compares modern evangelicalism to white-washed tombs, in need of reform just as badly as the medieval church did. The only cure today is the same cure that was needed then, and that is expository preaching.

I know that my summary of this book is rather long, but every point Lawson makes is an important one and there is nothing that I can really add. There are some thoughts that strike me and I will tell them now. First, as I said before, this is not a biography of Calvin. In fact, in a certain sense, this is not a book about Calvin at all. It could very well be a book on the principle of sola Scriptura as applied to preaching. “What?” saith you. “How can a book that focuses on a mere man from church history be about Scripture alone? That is contradictory.” Well, not really. That is why I urge you to read this book instead of just reading my summary. “Calvinists” are often accused of following a man, as opposed to following the Bible (though that accusation only works when our opponents are labeling us with a man's name and rejecting any label themselves, though they are just as guilty of following man-made traditions). One could look at the cover of this book, with John Calvin's name and picture on it, and assume that Steven J. Lawson is just some Calvin-follower, who is not so interested in what the Bible has to say. Such people need to read this book and they will quickly become disabused of such an idea. All of Calvin's preaching was aimed at taking peoples' focus off of the preacher and onto the glorious God being preached about. And this book functions in the same way. It points us to Calvin's preaching which itself points us to God and Christ as found in the Bible, and the Bible alone. With Calvin as his example, Lawson exhorts preachers to preach nothing but what is found in the Bible. They are not to waste time with extra-Biblical stories, philosophies, or speculations. If there is something that we wish to know but the Bible does not reveal, we are to not complain but to accept it, being content with what God does choose to reveal to us.

A second thought of mine (and I guess this is where my endorsement of this book really comes in) is that I really wish preachers would read this book. Well, everybody should read it, but preachers especially. There is a real crisis in worship in our day, exemplified in one way by the fact that we tend to use the word “worship” to refer to that part of the service that is not the preaching. But what is more worshipful than to humbly and obediently listen to God speak to us in His word, and to have His words explained to us? What we have to give to Him is nothing compared to what He has to give to us. And we are not going to get what He provides from sermons that expound nothing more than the preacher's sentiments on what is popular at the time. It is only God's word expounded that we get that nourishment that we need. The pulpit is the throne on which the Word of God sits, and we need to honor it. This book presses home this importance in every sentence.

One final thought, and that is about Steven Lawson himself. I have heard him preach a few times in person, and let me tell you, he practices what he writes about in this book. When he preaches, you really feel that you've been Preached at, with a capital “P”. It is not a lecture, a talk, a sharing, or a conversation. It is the words of God poured into and out from a heart set on fire for the zeal of God's glory. So read this book, then try to hear Steven Lawson preach in person, and you will know exactly what a sermon is supposed to be.

You can buy this book at As William Farel might say, “Buy this book, or else God will punish you.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Caterpillar's Bad Luck

In a small town in northeast Kansas, in a maple tree, there lived a caterpillar. He was not one of those cute fuzzy caterpillars, but rather was an ugly, hairless, green thing. But this was nothing to be ashamed of because all of his brethren living in this tree were also ugly, hairless, green things. These caterpillars spent the whole day eating the wonderfully sweet maple leaves. They also fell out of the tree a lot. Not on purpose, of course. They just lost their grip a lot, is all. But they would crawl back up the tree and resume eating. No biggie.

But one day, our caterpillar fell and landed, not on the ground, but on a person who happened to be walking under the branches at that moment.

"Oh great," the caterpillar said in disgust, "now what?" He was a bit of a complainer.

The person he landed on continued walking, oblivious to this new presence on his shoulder. He walked for several blocks, with the caterpillar watching his tree (and therefore, his food) shrink in the distance, until it was out of sight.

"Cripes! I haven't eaten in ten minutes!" he thought. "I'm going to starve!"

Finally, the person entered a building. It was the town library.

"What?!" said Caterpillar. "There are no trees in here! I tell you, if I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." The person he was riding pulled some books from the shelves and then sat at a table to read. "Now's my chance to escape," thought Caterpillar, and he crawled down the man's arm and onto the table.

"Ew! A worm!" shouted the man, and he then slammed a heavy book down on our unlucky friend.

The next to last thing to go through the caterpillar's head was, "I'm not a worm, I'm a caterpillar!" and the last thing to go through his head was his guts.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Bed Who Was Afraid of Children -- a fictional story written by me

Once upon a time, there was a bed named Zem that lived in a little boy's bedroom. Zem was a very troubled bed, and so was talking to his therapist, who happened to be the monster that lived in the closet. The therapist sat on his great hairy haunches, writing in a yellow legal pad. He pushed his glasses up his muzzle with a long, yellow claw.
“What is it that is troubling you so, Zem?” he asked in his deep growl, green ichor dripping off his crooked fangs.
“Oh, doctor,” said Zem, “I have a great fear, a phobia. It paralyzes me and consumes my life.”
The monster peered over his spectacles with his large, red eyes. “Oh yes? And what is it that you are afraid of.”
Zem glanced up at the therapist with an embarrassed look. “Children.”
“What, human children?” the monster asked.
“Every night that little boy comes and sleeps on me and it terrifies me something awful.” Zem said. “I think I'm getting an ulcer. I just wish something could be done about him.” Zem looked at his therapist with a hopeful look.
“Like what?” the monster asked, stroking his great horns with one clawed paw. “Perhaps you would like me him?”
Zem gave an excited twitch, but then settled back down into an embarrassed posture again. “Yes,” he said peevishly. “Would you?”
The monster let out a laugh as from the pits of hell, and then said, “No, I can't do that. You will never be able to overcome your fears if you let other people handle your problems for you. You cannot run away from what is bothering you. The best way of overcoming a phobia is to inundate yourself with what it is that you are scared of. In this case, you need to accept the child's presence and grit your teeth and bear it, and soon your phobia will fade away.”
Zem slumped in dejection. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Of course I am sure,” his therapist replied, and then licked his nose with his forked tongue. “Just give it time.”
“Oh, okay,” said Zem, and braced himself for a fearful night.
That night, when the boy came to bed, Zem tried his hardest to keep from going into hysterics. But after some time, when the boy was asleep, Zem's fear overwhelmed him and he wet himself.

The next week, when Zem saw his therapist again, the great beast settled in with sulfurous grunts and asked, “So how are you doing today, Zem?”
“Oh, doctor,” Zem answered pathetically, “I am not doing very well at all. Every night I get so scared that I wet myself. I am so ashamed.”
“There is no reason to be ashamed,” the monster soothed with his demonic croak. “Uncontrolled micturation is a natural response to fear. In time, it will pass.”
Zem rumpled his blankest together in dejection and said, “I just don't know, doc. I think I'm getting worse, because the boy seems scarier every night. Ever since I started wetting myself, his appearance has been transforming into something even more terrifying! At once he was merely scarefyingly fair-skinned, but now he has developed large purple bruises and welts. Just the very thought of his appearance gives me the heebie-jeebies! And the terrible screaming and crying he does when his father pats him! The sound gives me nightmares! And water comes out of his eyes in a very frightening fashion. I can't handle it anymore.” Zem broke down in sad moans.
The therapist picked at his fangs in thought, and finally said, “Just give it a few more days. I know your fear is intense, but I believe that soon everything will be all right.”
“I hope you're right, doc,” sighed Zem. “I hope you're right.

Zem's fear never lessened, and so he kept wetting himself every night. But then, after a few more days of this, the boy was gone forever.
“So what happened?” the monster asked at their next therapy session.”
“I don't know, doc, but it sure is great!” Zem answered exuberantly. “All I know is that the boy's father kept telling him that if he didn't 'stop it', then he would be sent to a foster home. And now he's gone!”
“Ah, yes,” the monster said knowingly. “I told you it would be all right.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

Scandalous Professors Make Arminians

The title of this post is a pithy little quote from the Commentary on Jude written by Puritan Thomas Manton (1620-1677), and it is a good work for Calvinists. Here is what it all means:

In good Puritan fashion, Manton spends about 60 pages on just verse 1 of Jude, with a good discussion of the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. Just as modern writers do when discussing this issue, he felt compelled to answer some of the questions raised by those who object to this doctrine, such as Bible passages that seem to speak of believers losing their salvation, and how this doctrine would lead to licentiousness. When making application, Manton writes that those of us who hold to this doctrine should live godly lives, for God does not only give us eternal life, but also a love for Him. We are Christians; so, live like one. Then he gets to the quote: "When our religious course is interrupted, and we give way to sin and folly, that is a seeming to come short, and so you bring a scandal upon the love of God, as if it were changeable; upon the merit of Christ, as if it were not a perfect merit. Scandalous professors make Arminians; in an age of defection, no wander if men plead for the apostasy of the saints."

In other words, when you profess Christ but live sinfully, you give weight to the argument than men can lose their salvation. If you don't want people to become Arminians, don't give them a good reason to with your life. Live what you believe. Good advice for me, and I am sure, for all of us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ruth and the Canaanite Woman of Matthew 15

As I've been studying the glorious book of Ruth, I keep having my mind return to the account of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. This first occurred when I read Ruth 2:10, where Ruth reveals her humble awareness of her outsider status: "Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'" She knew that she had no right to Boaz's kindness, that she was not a rightful member of the covenant community. She could very well have described herself as a dog, like the account in Matthew: "And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table'" (Matt. 15:26-27). Ruth knew her lowly estate, but she also knew the kindness of Boaz.

As a side note, I listened to a sermon by John Piper on Ruth 2 after I made this connection to Matthew 15 in my mind, and he made the same connection. It is always very affirming to hear or read a respected Bible teacher have the same thought that I had independently. Makes me feel that I'm not grasping at straws, interpretationally. That's cool. But I digress.

Anyway, now I've been in Ruth chapter 3, and again my mind was brought back to the Matthew 15 woman. This time it is in Ruth 3:12-13, where Boaz reveals that there is a nearer kinsman who has "first dibs" on Ruth. Now of course this comparison is not so identical, because with Ruth she has two possible Redeemers while in Matthew there is only one Redeemer with two groups of people needing redemption. But I still see similarity. The Canaanite woman knew that she had no claim on Jesus, especially not more claim than the Jews did, yet she was willing to wait and take what she could from Him. Likewise, Ruth has no direct claim on Boaz, but she is willing to wait and take what he will provide. And he is a faithful provider, promising that she will be taken care of either way. Whether he marries her, or the other kinsman marries her, he makes sure that she will be provided for. Just so, Jesus provided for the outsider with no claim on Him (Matt. 15:28).

Oh what a blessed message this is for miserable sinners such as us, who have no claim at all upon God's grace, but are nevertheless promised His grace. May we love Him and seek Him so as to be under that promise, never presuming that we deserve it, but always sure that He will give it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

John Piper: Fifteen Pro-Life Truths to Speak

I am just copy-and-pasting this from Desiring God. But it is real good and needs to be copy-and-pasted all over the place.

Fifteen Pro-Life Truths to Speak

By John Piper January 24, 2003


"You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." - Jesus Christ

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother's womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

Minnesota Abortion Clinics

Here are the places where most abortions are done in the Minnesota. Ask God how the gospel of Christ might be most fruitfully shared with those who work here, with a view to saving life now and for eternity. The one nearest the church (Meadowbrook) advertises on their website that they do abortions up to 21.6 weeks.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, Highland Park Clinic
1965 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN 55116; (651) 698-2406

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, Minneapolis Clinic
1200 Lagoon Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55408, (612) 823-6300

Meadowbrook Women's Clinic, P.A.
825 South 8th Street, Suite 1018, Minneapolis, MN 55404, (612) 376-7708

The Robbinsdale Clinic
3819 West Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55422; (763) 533-2534

Midwest Health Center for Women
33 South Fifth Street, Fourth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402; (612) 332-2311


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let's Discuss: Ruth

I have started a little personal in-depth study of the book of Ruth so I can create great notes to put into my Stephen Thomas study Bible (aka, ESV journaling Bible). But before I commit permanent ink to paper, I would like to work out what I actually believe about some things. So I have a few questions and I would like some discussion from anybody on what they think. The issues I am about to put forth are ones in which the sources I've been consulting are split just about down the middle on, opinion-wise. No majority to go with. Those resources are the Reformation Study Bible, the John MacArthur Study Bible, John Gill's commentary on Ruth, Iain Duguid's commentary, and Sinclair Ferguson's exposition called Faithful God. I've also listened (or am listening) to a sermon on Ruth by John MacArthur and a 4 sermon series by John Piper. Anyway, on to the questions.

1. In the opening verses of Ruth, when it tells of Elimelech and his family leaving famine-stricken Israel to sojourn awhile in Moab...was this sinful? Should they have stayed in the land of promise that God had given them instead of going to a country that had a long history of animosity towards God's people? Or was it okay since, after all, there was a famine in Israel?

2. And what about Naomi's strong urgings to Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab? Although humanly speaking she gave very logical and sensible advice, she was in effect discouraging their conversion to the true God. Was this sinfulness on Naomi's part, perhaps springing from her bitterness, or was it more along the lines of Jesus' admonitions to count the cost before committing to follow Him? So was Naomi sinning in this case?

That is all my questions for now. I will have more later, I am sure. I sure would appreciate any input any of you may have. Let's discuss!