TheWord Bible Study Program
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Resource Grading Scale
I really hesitate to do this, but I am finding it difficult to have so many modules in my TheWord program. So I am going to try to making a grading scale for others to know what is good, what is best, what is mediocre, and what is most probably useless or of little use. I am doing this not to judge this works adversely, nor to condemn some works and exalt others for theological reasons, but rather to help the user to pick and choose what he needs to have on his computer, what to put on a limited space USB Memory stick, or simply what to look at first in a search. Using these ratings in searches within TW, you can limit your results to best quality chapters first.
My perspective is this: (1) I am a pastor studying the Bible for sermons and Sunday School lessons. (2) I am a Bible student interested in issues that personally effect me, also in those which would affect others that I am witnessing to. (3) I have some Greek and Hebrew understanding, so that is useful to me. (4) I am of a fundamental Baptist orientation, placing a great value on resources works that use the Bible, actually quoting verses or referencing verses, and then explaining in argument these verses in view of some clarification or argument.
Under the above assumptions, I will be making some value judgments on the resources works on my websites. (Please note that I am putting the grade in brackets in each chapter so that you can search in TW using this grading scale. Usually each chapter will have the resources grading except for title pages, content pages, and introductions and such. This will put an easy way to cross a search with my evaluation of its usefulness. No premium modules will have a Resource Grading in them since I don't have them on my website, and I didn't create them. I will list them with my grading on my webpage, but that is as far as I can go to help you.
Resource Grade A
[RGA] This is an excellent work, sometimes a classic in itself. For example, Charles Hodges works on Systematic Theology are just necessary and essential. Chafer's Volumes on Systematic Theology likewise are unparalleled as far as their thoroughness and quality. Please note that I am not necessarily excluding any one theological position such as Calvinists, Arminianists, etc. I consider a work of great value when it meets one or more these criteria:
(1) doctrinally it is not in obvious error (here I understand Arminianists say Calvinists are in error and visa versa). For me, both have some truth that they explain and promote, and I am not in either camp 100%. I would exclude cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses, Universalists, Jesus Only Apostolic Pentecostals, etc. There may be some material that I personally would not agree with in these resources, but the format of them should be overwhelmingly, a belief in biblical authority, a reliance on exposition from biblical texts, argumentation towards orthodoxy, etc. Okay so I will probably make mistakes with these ratings, but you get some idea from these ratings. The main thing these resources should have is a good number of verses in their explanations and texts, some good arguing of logic within the framework of a biblical authority, and/or a recognition of its classic nature among religious resources. Another example is Torrey's work, the Fundamentals of the Faith. Simply put, it is a classic that cannot be overlooked.
Resource Grade B
[RGB] This rating I am giving to good works that would perhaps fail in some way to be in the above group. There are good books that perhaps have good logical and solid arguments but are light on verses (support by biblical authority), or some other objection. These books would be good in searching when a search on the above RGA fails. I would expect that the majority of the serious religious resource works would fall here. Some examples here are Austin-Sparks works. Actually his works are very good, but they are more devotional in nature, using a verse or Bible principle and then trying to interpret it and carry it to conclusions. This is good reading if you want devotional reading, but finding topics on key Bible concepts just doesn't seem to help much. I find Spurgeon to be the same. For all the sermons he has written, and those I have read trying to find material, he keeps coming up with little of real use for me. Even though Spurgeon is labeled, "The Prince of Preachers", what we have in his sermons written seems to be "lite". The application is there, but doesn't seem to be forceful, and the exposition of Scripture to go with the application seems light (few verses without much explanation). I find Charles Finney's works to be much more useful, though I understand his "deeper life" connections, and that is always a consideration in anything Finney wrote. The deeper life movement basically is where modern Pentecostalism came from, and their insistence on making emotionalism and the supernatural the most important element in spiritual life is simply unbiblical and wrong. Having said that, I find Calvinists as being dry and dead, with a self conceit in their own privileged state (as being elect like the Jew that Paul confronted with the same smugness). Read reformed works and they may have a lot of good solid doctrine, but they won't deal with the soul on a spiritual level correctly. Read deeper life people like Andrew Murray, E.M. Bounds, and others of their genre, and they will stir you soul on a level to change it. Some of the deeper life people understood their own weakness and wrote about this (like Simpson "Danger Lines in the Deeper Life Movement"). So my personal position is that I try to stress biblical defense and the authority of Scripture while trying to stir the soul on an emotional level as well as a logical level.
Resource Grade C
[RGC] These resources are simply not the cream of the crop, although they may have some very good material in them. Basically, a work will automatically be placed in a Grade B level, and if I survey it and see stuff that seems useless in Bible study, poor, or distracting to serious Bible study, I move it down to C.
Resource Grade D
[RGD] These resources are simply not useful for my purposes. Examples of these would like the Egptian book of the dead, or other esoteric works that one wonders why anybody would have them in their libraries constantly searching for Trinity, eternity, omnipresence, etc in these works. Here I place works by universalists, Oneness Gospel people, Mormons, etc.
Resource Grade G Greek
[RGG] These works are works that heavily use Greek. In other words, for most normal people who don't read Greek, it is a waste of time. The exception here is that Strong's Greek-Hebrew Dictionary is a Classic in itself, and even though I will list it here, it will also get a RGA rating from me. Please note that this is both a warning and an attraction to have this rating. For those looking for Greek works, this means go here and download this resource.
Resource Grade H Hebrew
[RGH] About the same as above can be said for these works. If you read Hebrew, then download these modules, otherwise, basically forget them. They will be of little use to you.
In general a single module of a single author with multiple works will have a general module rating of one of the above, and then the individual works will have possibly different ratings depending on the quality and character of each book.
When you disagree with my evaluation
(1) Take a deep breath and remember, these evaluations are not extensive exposes on the authors nor their works. They are ballpark guesses by me, so don't get bent out of shape because I didn't elevate your favorite, nor that I have somebody recommended that you personally dislike. (2) Write me with an exposé of what is wrong with my recommendation, and I will consider it. Please note, I understand a lot of theology, so don't try to convert me, I read a lot of differing views than my own, and I doubt your evangelism for me to convert to your views will result in much. What I will do is post descriptive, explicit criticism of specific views, events, statements, etc. For example, you like Erasmus who compile the Textus Receptus Greek text? Fine. I have seen quotes by him where the Catholic Church accused him of being a Reformer like Martin Luther, and Erasmus pledged his loyalty to the Pope and Mary, and even if they are wrong, he will be wrong with them. That kind of quote by the man himself pretty much tells you a lot about his Christian life view. That is important and very revealing.
visits since July 14, 2009