Tag: logos

An Open Letter to Brisbane after my visit to Hillsong

I’m not sure who to address this open letter to. Open letters, as a medium, allow opinions to be voiced from an individual for the people addressed, but the point of the genre is that it provides some sort of benefit for the “public” – the reader, as well as the addressee.

I thought about making this an open letter to Hillsong. But who am I to tell another church how to do their business. I’m barely out of nappies as far as this ministry caper is concerned. So I decided I’d try addressing the people we have in common – the people who live around us.

There will be people who say I should’ve sent this straight to Hillsong, without making it open. And I would’ve, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to contact the relevant people at Hillsong. They’re not exactly transparent on that front. I will tweet them. It is also hard to provide criticism on the basis of “thought” when the well on that front has been poisoned in the sermon. More than once. Apparently trusting God’s word means not really grappling with it all that hard, unless you’re one of the few who can “rightly divide” it (2 Tim 2:15). So much for the priesthood of all believers. I’m also pretty sure that the people who watched our little group at Hillsong assumed we weren’t being moved by the Spirit, because we weren’t moving with the crowd. We weren’t responding to the talk the way we were called to. So I felt uncomfortable talking about the talk with anybody there tonight.

But I want to assure you, if you’re from Hillsong, that I, with meagre powers, love Jesus. He has captured my heart, and my head. And I offer this humbly as a suggestion that something was missing from Hillsong tonight. Something pretty big. Essential even.

Dear Brisbane,

I’m not an expert on Hillsong, or what goes on there. I’ve been once. Once was enough.

I’m not the emotional type. I’m, I hope, a relatively typical Aussie bloke. But I do go to church. Lots. I work for a church as a student, I’m training to be a minister. A few weeks back, when I was going through a pre-delivery critique of one of my sermons, someone suggested it lacked a little passion. I wondered a bit about whether or not I’m passionate enough about the gospel. I wondered whether I really do get excited about the cross. I wondered if I should be more like my brothers and sisters at Hillsong. None of this really matters. Except that I’m a typical person and I want to make where I’m coming from pretty clear. I’m no more or less special than the average church goer, but I am in a position to have some idea what should happen in church.

I try to give people a fair hearing. I try not to judge others. I’m not very good at this. We’re all a package of our prejudice,  our personalities, and our inherent self importance. So I fail. But I do try to be not just objective in how I assess things, but charitable. Using a standard that I hope is objective, and a standard that I’d want applied to me in return.

Let me declare my “bias” – I’m not a pentecostal, in part because I’m not an emotional type, in part because I’ve been raised in a non-pentecostal setting so I have a natural inclination towards non-pentecostal expressions of Christianity, and in part because I’m a more rational type and I have problems with some pentecostal accounts of theology and the human experience. I love my pentecostal brothers and sisters in Christ – and I think we have much to learn from them about loving people, serving people, seeking justice, and many many lessons in terms of connecting with society and not avoiding “cool” as though the gospel is purer if we’re not working hard to connect it to people. In fact, we were there tonight to learn from Hillsong. We wanted to learn about how to look after new people (hint – it’s not taking pot shots at people who aren’t physically expressive, who sit with their arms crossed, or are “intellectual” about their faith – three of the points from tonight’s sermon). Their production values are excellent. Their music is excellent. Their people are passionate, and warm, and care about changing the world – and they do something about it. Starting local, but thinking interstate and global too.

My problem is not with Pentecostal theology. My problem is not with the music, or the production values, or the social justice, or the passion of the people. My problem with tonight’s service is not with pentecostal theology – it’s with what I think is a failure to do what church is meant to be on about. Something that in no way undermines any of the great stuff that happened at Hillsong tonight.

So here’s what I think the church gathering should be about, because I think the church gathering should reflect what unites the church who are gathered, and the church that has gathered and will gather since Jesus, and until he returns.


Jesus, the God who created the world made flesh. Made human. So that we can know God.

Jesus, the son of man, the son of God, who went to the cross and was executed like the scummiest of criminals. Because when it comes to God’s standards we – humans who aren’t Jesus – are the scummiest of criminals. He died our death so we could live his life.

Jesus. God’s “word” to humanity. God’s communication to us. The one life that sums up what the whole Bible is about.

Church is about Jesus. Church is a gathering of people brought together by Jesus, for Jesus. Broken and imperfect people. Like me.

Any time someone gets up in a church and doesn’t talk about Jesus it’s a wasted opportunity. It’s worse, in my opinion, than getting up in the political sphere as a Christian and not talking about Jesus. If you’ve read my criticisms of the ACL  you’ll understand something of my feelings on this front.

The reason I’m writing this is that I went to one of Brisbane’s biggest churches tonight. A church that is part of one of the biggest networks of churches in the world. A mover and shaker in the church business. And apart from a few cursory references, and a couple of verses in a couple of songs, Jesus wasn’t spoken about. Jesus was there in name. And he was there as guarantor of our happiness and victory (effect), but he was absent as cause. He wasn’t there in the sermon underpinning the promises the Bible makes about humanity. And he should have been. And I’m sorry. Brisbane. Because people need to hear about Jesus.

Hillsong promises all sorts of good stuff for people who get on board with God. And God is powerful, like they say. But God demonstrates his power at the cross of Jesus. Power in humility. Strength in suffering. Honour in shame. Victory in sacrifice. The cross isn’t a message of triumph like we might understand it in human terms. It’s a message of triumph in subversion. It turns the world upside down. Victory, for the Christian, is cross shaped. It’s not shaped like the life we want to have. It’s shaped like the life Jesus had. Sacrifice for others. Discomfort for others. Voluntarily.

Tonight I went to Hillsong. The talk was about Psalm 149. Verse 6 of Psalm 149 that is. A verse that in the words of preacher Steve Dixon, is where the Psalm pivots from being about praise, to being about God’s word.

God’s word is important. We can’t know God without it. I’m not sure you can jump straight from one use of the word “sword” into every mention of the word “sword” in the Bible.

“May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,”

But we went from here to Hebrews 4. Via a long description of the functions of swords through the ages. Why the function of swords in the Middle Ages and Scotland and in knighting people today was worth a significant chunk of time was a bit beyond me.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

A great verse. A powerful verse. God’s word is alive and active. It is powerful. It can upend lives because it upended the world. It created the world. It holds the world together. That’s what Hebrews 1 says anyway. And it equates God’s word with Jesus.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

The talk didn’t go there.

At one point, in a bit of ironic demonstration of why some actual Bible study is a good thing, Steve Dixon talked about the difference between the two Greek words for word. λογος (logos) and ῥῆμα (rhema). Logos, he said, rightly, is the notion of the whole counsel on an issue, the final word, the comprehensive word, the wisdom on a subject… But apparently that’s too much for our little human brains to comprehend. We can only deal with rhemas. Small parts of the logos given to us by the Spirit in particular moments. That sounds great. But it’s not really true. Because we have access to the full wisdom of God in Jesus. Here’s how John puts it. In chapter 1, verses 1 and 14.

In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We can know the Logos. It’s mind blowing. But it’s true. We need to know God’s logos. The words or utterances spoken by God aren’t enough. The whole counsel is. We may not ever grasp it fully. We are finite, God is infinite. We may only grasp it from utterances (rhema). But God’s word is Jesus.

The worst part of the rhema v logos logic is that Hebrews 4, when it talks about the word of God it says “the logos of God.” Probably worse still, in terms of setting up some magical interpretive distinction between the two is that the Hebrews 1 passage above uses rhema. For something much bigger and grander than a small word applied to an individual. The logic just doesn’t stand up.

And if you’re going to talk about the power of God’s word to transform lives – any transformation of lives begins with Jesus. And it begins at the cross. The word (logos) of God that is living and active is Jesus, who speaks words that are powerful (rhema). There is no word of God without Jesus. There is no point talking about the word of God’s impact in our life without talking about Jesus – and that’s where tonight failed. It was all about the power of God’s word spoken into the lives of people, but it wasn’t about Jesus.

The transformation God works in human lives is through Jesus… not just through the words of moral wisdom found in the Bible. Which is, as much as I could tell, and I was listening pretty hard, the message of tonight’s talk. If we live by the words we find in the Bible it’ll change our life for the better. We’ll suddenly become passionate worshippers of God and the world will change through our actions.

It sounds nice. And the Bible is full of wisdom. Living the words of the Bible will make you a healthier, wealthier, and wiser, person. Probably. Until something goes wrong in your life – like your selfishness or the selfishness of someone else gets in the way. Or until you get the gospel and realise you’re called to sacrifice for others and to be prepared to suffer as you take up your cross and follow Jesus. As you give up your life. As you suffer well. As you die well.

It felt a lot like the talk had 1 Corinthians in the background – especially in the anti-intellectual bits.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

That’s a powerful account of the usefulness of intellectual endeavour without God. But the next bit is more important.

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

There wasn’t any of that preaching tonight. If there was it was so implied that I didn’t get it. I was listening out for it. I was waiting for it. I could feel every fibre in my body tensing as it became clearer and clearer that a long sermon was going to go by without God’s word being linked to Jesus. I was collapsing in on myself hoping against hope that we’d get to John 1, or Hebrews 1, or any presentation of the gospel.

Here’s a challenge I have for Steve and for any other Hillsong people who find this post via their google alerts, or Twitter… listen back to tonight’s sermon. Listen for anything that might point someone to the gospel. To the foot of the cross. To Jesus, the word made flesh, not simply to Scripture as a handbook for life. Scripture is Scripture because Jesus said it testified about him, and he showed he was God by coming back from the dead. Without him it’s just some old text. It is living and powerful because it centres on the cross. The pivot point in human history.

Steve used the example of two hypothetical people in the congregation who might respond to his talk in different ways – by fully physically engaging in worship, as he suggested the Psalm called us to, getting out of their comfort zone and giving themselves over to God, or by sitting back, arms folded, unchallenged and unmoved.

Jesus doesn’t care about how high you lift your arms, or how uncomfortable the self-aware bit of your psyche is when you are praising him. He cares about the condition of your heart – and sure, responding to Jesus with your whole being is part of responding to your changed heart. And the passion and social justice stuff Hillsong and churches of its ilk get into is fruit of a changed heart. I have no doubt about that.

I’m not a hypothetical listener. I’m not a sermon illustration. I was there. In the flesh. In the second row. I could’ve walked out at the end of that sermon insulted (I was sitting with my arms crossed apparently a sign that God’s word wasn’t engaging me), and that would’ve been sad, I could’ve walked out of that talk no clearer on who Jesus is, and that’s a tragedy. But I walked out angry. So at least Hillsong promoted a passionate response from me. I’m thankful for that. But mostly for Jesus.

So dear Brisbane, if you go to Hillsong and it isn’t clear what they’re on about in the sermon, or why they’re singing with such passion. Please ask someone. I’m sure they’ll be able to tell you. Then ask them, given how amazing the gospel is, why it isn’t front and centre every week in everything they do. It might be other weeks, it wasn’t this week.



Why don’t we think about non-verbal communication when we’re singing in church?

In October last year, I stirred up a bit of a hornets nest when I wrote something that was admittedly deliberately provocative about “worship” and “music in church gatherings.”

I’ve probably nuanced what I would say about “worship” since then – I think, and this is a working definition, that “worship is the sacrificial use of the gifts God has given you to glorify him by loving and serving him, and one another, and pointing people to Jesus.” I think that best accounts for Romans 12, and Paul’s approach to ministry and spiritual gifts, particularly in Corinthians.

I’m pretty convinced by the argument that singing in our gatherings is part of “word ministry” – it is designed to both express something about our faith in Jesus, express something vertically in terms of vocalising our praise to God, and express something horizontally in terms of encouraging our brothers and sisters as we sing together, and highlighting something for the non-Christian in the midst of our gathering (ala 1 Cor 14:22-25).

Singing is communication. Singing is word ministry. And laying aside all debates about the charismatic movement and whether flaying your arms around, or at least moving, is biblically mandated (or rather, warranted, ala what Bob Kauflin dealt with when he spoke in Brisbane last year), I think we I’d at least argue we’re doing this communication part badly… or at least not communicating as fully as we could be… if we adopt the dour posture common in the reformed evangelical (Presbyterian) circles that I move in.

Here’s why.

Image Credit: The Speaker’s Practice

Most communications experts and consultants I’ve dealt with over the years – from uni lecturers during my undergrad degree, to consultants we hired in the workplace, to preaching lecturers at college – stress the importance of things other than words when we are speaking. Things we call “non verbal communication.”

The number in the pie chart above seems pretty arbitrary – I’ve heard it said that non-verbal communication can account for up to 85% of what we communicate, or how effectively we communicate it, when we speak. That’s what these guys claim.

They also claim that 90% of the emotional work is carried by non-verbals.

If this stat is true then it plays into another aspect of communication – particularly when it comes to the fine art of persuasion. And if communication is not “persuasive” in some sense, if you’re just preaching to the choir – literally – when you sing, and you’re not trying to reinforce or hammer home something using music as a teaching tool, then I’d argue that it’s not really a particularly useful form of Christian encouragement, and you’re not really treating music as word ministry.

Persuasion, since Aristotle (and later, my favourite, Cicero), has been divied up into categories of pathos (emotion), ethos (character), and logos (content) – here’s a run down from another public speaking site I found via google. And a little diagram – I’d argue from the stat above, even if its inaccurate, that pathos includes convincing non-verbals…

Image Credit: Visual Books Project

In my experience of my circles our approach to music heavily invests in the logos element of our music, treats music as a ministry that requires a certain character test for members of the band (ethos), and maintains a deep suspicion of pathos because it’s largely, especially in the absence of the other two elements, where manipulation goes down.

I’ve written something about manipulation and persuasion before. And personally I am deeply, and culturally, suspicious of any attempts to manipulate the way I think with bells and smells, ritual, minor falls and major lifts, or any little tools that bands might use – like clapping.

I’m not suggesting working our way through this chart until you find something that resonates with you.

Image Credit: TimHawkins.net (get the T-Shirt)

But I don’t think this suspicion is the answer – and I think its stymying our ability to communicate the gospel clearly in everything we do when we gather. I’m trying to figure out what being mindful of what I’m communicating non-verbally when I sing looks like.

Good persuasion, following Cicero, means starting with character, and then tying logos and pathos together under that rubric. I think Paul takes Cicero’s ball and runs with it in his letters to the Corinthians (my Corinthians essay) – arguing that the character test for Christian ministry is being sacrificially cross shaped in how they do life, and especially how they gather… and I think, if emotion is carried by non verbal communication, and assuming we’ve got issues of ethos and logos right in our singing, then we need to be thinking about how we do pathos well with our non-verbals when we use singing to communicate the gospel. In a way that is sacrificial and meets the definition of worship I floated above.

The call then, is for us to be genuinely authentic when we’re singing together, rather than faking authenticity, pretending to be bought in to the emotional stuff, because we want to communicate something. There are heaps of people, particularly in our culture, who are just like me – suspicious of overtly emotional stuff, wary of manipulation through an increasing sensitivity to the tricks of advertisers, spin doctors, and other charlatans – so we can’t do the pathos, or even the logos, right, without getting the ethos right first. But nor can we be so scared of this stuff that we avoid pathos all together – because a lack of emotional buy in amounts to an insincere and inauthentic approach to persuasion, and also fails at communicating as effectively as possible.

It’s traditional for posts about doing non-verbal stuff while you’re singing to say the Christian thing to do is to be sensitive to the people around you and not do stuff that will distract or offend them – which if worship is sacrificial service of others as well as of God – goes without saying.

The questions then are – if singing forms part of our word ministry – if it’s communication – how do we communicate our thankfulness to God using the means of communication that he has given us,* how do we best use these means to encourage each other about the power of the gospel in our lives as we sing, and how do we use them to communicate the gospel to outsiders?

Interestingly, as a bit of a throwaway, this book chapter on gestures in communication, suggests that gestures are particularly helpful for overcoming a communication divide (from p 21) – I’m not going to hang the whole thesis of this post off this, but I wonder if seeing some familiar gestures in response to music (like the stuff you might see at a concert), rather than a room of dour people, may overcome some of the gaps between the inevitable Christian jingo and vocabulary some of our songs contain, and make the experience of corporate singing a little less weird – rather than more weird, though you could equally run with this point to justify interpretive dance… this book chapter also suggests we’re generally reliably able to spot people who are performing “rehearsed” gestures, rather than spontaneous.

I don’t think the answer is looking something like this…

* I’m trying to be careful here not to suggest a non-Biblical requirement where we must make gestures as we sing – I think the expression of the vertical aspect of our singing has significance for its effectiveness horizontally as a means of encouragement and communicating the gospel.

Honest Logos: The truth behind the brands

There is often a dissonance between what a company wants its brand to be and what its brand actually is. Your logo is not your brand. Your brand is what people think of you when they see your logo…

These are some “corrections” of famous brands.

There are a few more here, where I found them.

Why I bought Logos not Accordance

If you’re a Bible College student, minister, or just generally interested in purchasing some top quality Bible software for Mac – then I suggest you read this post alongside this post from two days ago. Buying Bible software, especially if you’re a student, is a big budgetary decision. Thanks to a job I lined up over the college break I was in a position to spend some money on some software that’ll hopefully make Greek, Hebrew, and essay writing a little less arduous this year.

The Situation

My wife and I are both studying full time at Bible College (Queensland Theological College). We are both, predominantly, Mac users. We both have iPhones. And one of the other pre-conditions in my negotiations with my wife re taking a job over summer was that if the new iPad looks good, I’ll get one. So finding software that plays nice with Macs and their offspring was a factor. I also have a desktop PC at home that I don’t use as much as I used to. But that I still like. Especially if I’m playing with any design stuff.

So right off the bat I ruled out BibleWorks – because I wanted a native solution. I don’t like parallel operating systems or emulators. I don’t know why. It just seems to add an extra degree of difficulty.

The Hive Mind

I didn’t want to make a purchase decision of this magnitude on my own. I don’t like the idea of buying anything without some idea of what I’m getting my hands on. My church history lecturer has probably the world’s biggest brain. And he recommended Logos. He’s not the computer geek type (though he does run Logos on his netbook, iPad, and office computer – he only got the iPad at Christmas time). He had no complaints about speed. Because he is a real person, not somebody who wants everything at the tip of their fingers immediately. My college principal uses Accordance, he’s a Mac man, and it was chosen for him by the tech guru at Tyndale House, where he was previously employed. He’s very happy with it – and says, alongside his Diogenes Greek software, the program has significantly reduced the time taken to conduct language work (and he works a fair bit in that sphere – his PhD involved research into just about every extant written work from Corinth and Alexandria (and this was BC – before computers)). So that’s one all. My friend Jeremy Wales also uses Logos, and his brain is almost as big as our church history lecturer’s.

Not content with these recommendations from friends who used one, or the other, I put the call out to Facebook and Twitter. I love Web 2.0. I got a great string of responses from both. The Twitter responses were particularly in favour of Accordance because the @accordance account retweeted my tweet. Here are some notable tweetsponses:

  • @nm_campbell I tried both but rather Accordance. I just wish Accordance worked better on a PC. But on a mac -Accordance!
  • @nm_campbell I’ve had Accordance for years and love it. Developers are very active in the community and quick to listen to user requests.
  • @nm_campbell If working in original languages, @AccordanceBible hands down. If not, depends on your needs.
  • @nm_campbell I assume you have a Mac. Whatever you decide, be assured that you will not make a mistake if these two are your choices.
  • @nm_campbell accordance is better for getting into the text (faster too). Logos is better if you want tons of books and commentaries.
  • @nm_campbell went with @AccordanceBible because it was what I needed: fast and without a ton of stuff I never use. Both are good though.
  • (from @accordancebible) @nm_campbell we’re also going to be in Brisbane for a training seminar May 9th. Great opp to learn from the best http://t.co/h4kZ6hR
  • @nm_campbell using Acc since 5.x(?) & used Logos in Seminary. Hate Acc’s UI, but LOVE results. Indispensable: it’s like having X-ray vision!
  • @nm_campbell you may want to check out this forum post. Users chiming in on the reasons they chose @accordancebible http://t.co/3xbXWGh
  • @nm_campbell in case you haven’t read it, this piece is good, too: http://t.co/EQs1H8I

Happy campers. Nobody really has anything negative to say about either product. Which is a good sign. Accordance has a good rep for being amazingly speedy. And both companies seem to have embraced social media marketing in a big way. I was in no way prepared for what happened next. But first. To the responses on Facebook.

  • We went with Accordance. Has been stress-free thus far.
  • Whatever you decide, buy the biggest library you can on first purchase.It’s the incremental pieces where it gets expensive. Buying Greek and then Hebrew (for example) is much dearer than getting them all in one hit.
  • I can’t comment on accordance. But with Logos you need to start with scholars at a minimum for original languages study, lower levels come with only very low level tools and supporting databases for this type of work. Original Languages library is also ok, but it is limited in breadth of resources e.g. no commentaries so hence scholars is a better starting point. The negative side of base scholars is while it has breadth for a more general purpose library it is limited in grammars etc and you need to go for silver scholars to pick up the broad range of grammars etc
    Logos also has an iPhone 4 app, and a Android App is under development so you can access the majority of your library on the go ( a few publisher’s were holding out on licensing rights for users to access both on computer and mobile platforms). Logos also has a web platform under development so you can access your library from any terminal that has access to the internet ( http://biblia.com/ ). No extra charge for access your library from either of these platforms. Logos also allows you to use your library from either MAC or Windows, you don’t have to pay to switch between platforms.
    And of course there is also an iPad app as well which you can access your library from… And they do offer the option of a 12 month payment plan on your purchase so you don’t have to pay for the full package all in one hit…
    A couple of blogs I know that do comparisons between these pieces of software are:
  • Depends what you want it for. Accordance was made for language work, and works better than Logos at that. Logos was made initially for reading online, so does that better. Both added the other option but do their native task best. I generally hate reading books on the computer, but you have a kindle so might not be an issue. In terms of books I much prefer when sermoning to have a heap of commentaries out lying everywhere for comparison. Plus, any books should last the extent of my ministry. I don’t care about digital storage in this instance. That is all.
  • It’s worth considering how commercialized logos is, too: the app’s homepage, their emails, their twitter feed are all pushing more resources all the time.If you struggle with self-control on book purchases, this could be unhelpful.I’ve found logos to be easier and more intuitive to work with, but there’s a new version of accordance I haven’t tried yet: maybe it’s easier.
  • It’s worth chatting to the sales people at accordance – they’re very helpful, and can give you an idea around current and upcoming titles.
  • Bible Works was the rage when i was at college. has it fallen out of favour?
  • Bibleworks is still kicking strong, but to run on a MAC you need to use virtualization software. Logos and Accordance run native on MAC. Bibleworks and WORDSearch are now just starting to work together, with modules now being to developed to run on both platforms (only 6 resources so far). Bibleworks is great for OL but lacks the breadth and depth of Logos, so they are clearly looking for a way to address that , which is also indication of how far Logos has come in its OL tools and databases, that Bibleworks now feels they need to expand their business model beyond being OL.

These two strings of responses gave me a lot to think about. And at that point I turned to my trusty steed. This blog. To see if any of my readers had any advice, or experience. And wow. When I said that both companies have embraced marketing via social media in a big way. I mean it. Very sharp. Reps from both Accordance and Logos joined the discussion to make sure that any of the misconceptions created by any of the previous comments from users were cleared up. And, in an even more impressive step, Dan from Logos emailed me with some personalised (and very Godly) advice. He basically sold the other guy’s product. Here’s a snippet (he said he would prefer me not to post his whole email).

“All I can say about the choice is, why choose? Why not get what you need from both? Even if you decided to go with Accordance, Logos has over 12,000 titles that you could pick and choose from. Our software engine is free, so you can just buy the titles you want.”

I think that’s an incredible example of graceful sales and marketing. He basically, in that paragraph, has encouraged me not to blow my money on stuff I won’t use, and suggested I go with the other guy as well. Which, in a bizarre way, was probably the biggest factor in my decision to use Logos exclusively at this point. It’s quite possible that I’ll decide I want a faster language tool and end up getting a hold of Accordance. It has a very enthusiastic fan base.

But the conversation in the comment thread is enlightening – and I think highlights the real problem I had with Accordance. Accordance is designed for the Mac. By all accounts it is intuitive to use and seamless in its implementation. Its website is not. Its website looks like the software is designed for the PC. I made the comment in the last post that the Logos website looks like a product designed for PC and marketed for Mac, while Accordance is the other way around. It is just really difficult to intuitively figure out how to add bits and pieces to the package, and clunky looking. There are a lot of misconceptions going around about Accordance – as evidenced by the times their company rep stepped in to correct misinformation in that thread. Even for Accordance users. And I think part of the problem is that information is so much harder to come by on their website. Neither site is perfect at this point, and the signal to noise problem of throwing my search out to everybody and being influenced by their answers may have made the process of finding information more difficult. But in order to find out whether I could install the software on my wife’s laptop as well as my own was a matter of finding an answer to that specific question in the FAQ section (which I admittedly found pretty easily by typing licensing into the search box – though the answer on that page suggests that if both of us are studying full time we both have to buy licenses, but I got a different vibe in the comments on my post). There’s no obvious statement about licensing restrictions anywhere on any of the product pages, which would have made the process a little simpler. I made a couple of comments about Logos being more extensible in the meta of that last post – which others disagreed with. But I ran a couple of little tests – looking to add specific books, or commentary series to the software – and here are the results of my query (looking for commentaries by Ben Witherington III): Accordance v Logos – in both cases I simply used the search box on the site. I’ve switched over to digital distribution (ok, I still like the tangibility of a book – but the convenience of digital means I’m buying many more resources electronically – if either of theses platforms offered some sort of Kindle support I’d be absolutely sold, though an iPad with Kindle and Logos installed will fix all of that).

Why I ultimately chose Logos

Rick from Accordance did a great job in the comment thread allaying concerns I had about the Accordance platform. Some of my initial objections to Accordance (licensing for both Robyn and I across all our computers, the availability of other resources, and the nature of the program – ie that it wasn’t just a language tool that had tacked on a library). I essentially decided that Logos and Accordance were both equally viable products. Offering a great service to people wanting to study the Bible.

These were the factors in my decision, all other things being equal:

  1. Price – I was convinced by the wisdom of friends who suggested going for the biggest bundle I could afford in the initial purchase, and Logos offers a 30% discount, which mean that the Silver Scholars package came within the ball park of the rack price for the Accordance bundle I was looking at, and the rack price for the base level Scholars pack in Logos.
  2. Technology – In the end having a PC to throw in the mix with two Macs was a factor. I could have used an emulator on my PC, but I just don’t want technologically clunky solutions. Especially when it comes to support issues. Having a third party piece of software as a middle man is no fun.
  3. Upgradability – I am convinced that Logos’ strength as a distribution channel for further works is greater than Accordance’s (I’m convinced Accordance is faster and better suited to the Mac environment it’s designed for).
  4. Marketing. Logos wins the marketing war. And I’m a marketer at heart. I switched to Apple for its aesthetic as much as for the technology. Form just edges out function for me. And that’s a personal preference.

I want to thank both David and Rick from Accordance, and Dan from Logos for the way they carried out the conversation here, and for taking an interest in seeing students like me get the software that suits. And I’d urge you to read their comments and make your own decision when it comes to these products on careful research, and thinking about your needs. That was the best, and most consistent, advice I received in the process.



Bible Study Software: To buy, or not to buy, and if to buy, which to buy

Accordance, or Logos. That is the question.

One of the perks of having slaved away over a hot computer over the holidays in my holiday job (more on that later) is that I can afford to invest in some Bible study software that will hopefully make my attempts to grapple with Greek, Hebrew, and essay writing, a little bit easier.

There are three options out there (fourth if you include just using the interwebs).

I’ve basically ruled out BibleWorks – because getting it to work on a Mac requires clunky parallel operating systems and I pretty much flat out refuse to do that – why would I go back to an inferior operating system? If I were a Windows user I may well go with it – because it has the benefit of being a cheap and easy language parser. But, because I’m a superficial marketing driven purchaser I can’t get past the ugly website and shoddy looking, WIndows 95esque user interface.

Next option, by price, is Accordance – and specifically the Scholars Premier + Library Premier option, currently on special for $599. Now. Accordance is designed for Mac. But I don’t like its website. It was designed for language work, and kind of tagged on the library stuff later. Twitter loves it. I put a call out yesterday and almost every response I got (possibly because the @accordance account retweeted my tweet) was in favour of Accordance.


The option I’m currently leaning towards is Logos. Logos just looks schmick. And it has multiplatform support in built. And the ability to add module after module of good stuff. Accordance has modules as well – but it doesn’t have the same publishing base (as far as I can tell) that Logos obviously offers. The base level Scholars pack is $629. It just looks schmick too. And as a marketer I like that. It looks like a Bible software package marketed by Apple, rather than made for Apple.


My college principal, a Mac user, uses Accordance, while possibly the widest reading lecturer at college uses Logos. Both have suggested their product of choice is a good choice.

Should I flip a coin?

Some helpful links if you’re facing this decision:

Arthur wrote a good little post pondering the merits of these packages here. There’s a lot of bloat – but the bloat might be useful if ever I do decide to pursue further study (a possible option in my mind).

This Ligonier comparison is worth a read too.

Logo Redesign Flow Chart

Does your logo feature clipart? Or wordart? Maybe you need an update…

Via FlowingData.

UPDATE: This picture was created in response to Mikey’s comment. If your logo looks like this you might need a redesign…

If every logo looked the same…

I actually wouldn’t mind a world where every logo had to be produced using Helvetica. A vision put to the test here.

Illogical Logos

Some logos are bad. Others are terribad – a combination of terrible badness. Here’s a site dedicated to logos falling into a category beyond terribad…

Like this one.

Seriously people, don’t just throw something together using clip art, pay a graphic designer.

Cross promotions

Wil Anderson just made this bold claim on the Gruen Transfer:

“The McDonalds Golden Arches are now more recognisable than the Christian Cross.”

True or false?

It kind of fails to take into account the historical brand recognition and needs to be more specifically defined.

A little bit of googling suggests that this was either a piece of corporate indoctrination fostered by McDonalds that has now become fact – or that there is an obscure survey that I can’t find from the late 90s conducted in Australia…

Your thoughts?