March 14, 2006

Introduction: New Gadget

UPDATE 3/23/2006: The scriptures now appear in a scripture tooltip using a completely different technique. It still requires javascript to be enabled and may also require popups to be enabled for this site. I’ve tested with IE 6 and Firefox 1.5. Let me know if you have problems.

I have been experimenting with a scripture popup technique using tools provided at gnpbc.org for the English Standard Version (ESV). In the list of scriptures below, just move the mouse over a scripture reference to get a popup with the scripture text (requires javascript and popups to be enabled for this site). The scripture is retrieved from the ESV site when you hover over the reference. I’ll use this article as a testbed to see how well it works for everyone. Let me know what you think.

The Real Article: Patterns

One principle that has guided the Restoration Movement churches, and especially the churches of Christ, is patternism–the principle of following patterns from scripture. Many of the controversies arising among these churches, and between them and non-Restoration churches, originate in the understanding of patterns. Nowadays it is common to find strong opposition to the notion of patterns, especially among post-modern believers. I think that opposition is misplaced. To me it seems that the controversies arise, not because we try to follow patterns, but because we bind upon others the patterns we think we see in scripture.

Patterns are by definition an inference from scripture. In most cases they would not be a necessary inference. There are some patterns in scripture that do not apply to us today (for example, the pattern of Paul first going to the synagogues when he entered a city). OTOH, the pattern of worshipping on Sunday is generally accepted as one we should follow. Deciding which patterns to apply today requires human judgment.

God does intend for us to follow patterns received from the apostles. See the following passages:

Rom 16:17
2 Thess 2:15
2 Thess 3:6-9
2 Tim 1:13
1 Cor 11:1-2
1 Cor 4:16
Phil 3:17

Rom 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (ESV)

2 Thes 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (ESV)

2 Thes 3:6-9 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. (ESV)

2 Tim 1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

1 Cor 11:1-2 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. (ESV)

1 Cor 4:16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (ESV)

Phil 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (ESV)

It makes perfect sense to try to follow the patterns we perceive in scripture. However when we bind those patterns on others who do not perceive them, we are asking them to put their faith in the wisdom of fallible men rather than in God. When we bind patterns on others who have not (yet) reached the same understanding, history teaches us that the result will often be divisions in the church.


  1. The ESV pop-up drives my popo-up blocker nuts. I’ve told it to allow all pop-ups at rouses.net, but it’s not listening. It also locked up my browser (Maxthon) twice.Cool idea though.

  2. I’m on Linux and don’t have access to a Windows pc. My testing has been on Firefox and Konqueror. I’ve made a few minor changes in the javascript code that might help, but currently have no way to test it on Maxthon. I’ll work on it more when I return home.

  3. I’m running Firefox 1.5 on Fedora Core 3. I allowed popups for rouses.net, and it popped up three boxes when I put the mouse over the first scripture.

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