The Ugliest Update I’ve Ever Seen (and fish too)


This rather ugly fish is nothing compared to the ugly update

So what do fish have to do with updates? Well, sometimes they’re both ugly.

Last time we looked at a lot of the good and some of the bad of Stoa’s updates. It’s time to fill out the bad and conclude with…the ugly.

The Bad, Part 2

Here’s where we left off last post, with 4 bad aspects of the updates:

A. Changing Open-Ended Questions to Closed-Ended
B. Altered Meanings
C. General Awkwardness
D. Gender-Neutral Language

Now for the fifth.

E. The Vanishing Atonement

This may be a personal issue, but I’m really sad that Stoa removed the topic about the atonement. Check out this screenshot of the former Apologetics topics.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.06.43 AM

“Atonement” topic highlighted at top right

Now compare this screenshot of the updated 2015-2016 topic list.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.07.03 AM

“Atonement topic” nowhere

They removed the topic, “Explain the meaning and significance of atonement”!

Now, I don’t think Stoa has gone liberal. Far from it. And in their defense, propitiation is a closely related topic that covers some of the same ground. But “atonement” is a more holistic concept than propitiation, justification, and redemption. All three of those were accomplished through the atonement of Christ.

Just consider the definition of atonement: “Theology. the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, especially as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.”

Wow! That’s a huge concept with lots of areas for discussion! Reconciliation, active obedience (Jesus’ life), passive obedience (Jesus’ suffering and death), not to mention all the other effects the atonement had on us.

You can even include propitiation inside atonement—it was a penal substitutionary atonement, after all.

Okay, rant over. I just think removing the atonement from the topics was a bad decision. Let’s hope it comes back next update.

And now…what you’ve all been waiting for…

The Ugly

How can there be an “ugly” Apologetics update?

Oh, believe me. Just read:

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.14.54 AM

Category 2, Statement Analysis 4. My highlighting.

So, what’s a cannon? Let’s check the definition.

a mounted gun for firing heavy projectiles; a gun, howitzer, or mortar.”

Hmm. How do you have a literary mounted gun?

You don’t.

Because “cannon” is a misspelling. IN THE OFFICIAL TOPIC LIST.


Here’s the old topic:

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.18.51 AM

Note the correct spelling. Highlighting mine again

Spelling right: “canon” and not “cannon.”

Look, Google gets it right if we try to type in “cannon of Scripture.” It gives results for “canon of Scripture” because it knows cannon is wrong.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.17.24 AM

Hey, even Bing gets it right!

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.17.27 AM

And Stoa might get a pass if Noam Chomsky had misspelled it and they were just quoting him. But nope.

This is a link to the original source.

And sure enough, Chomsky gets it right.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.21.27 AM

The original source has “canon” and not “cannon”

So during the updates, someone had an epic proofreading fail.

Really? There was no one on Stoa’s Apologetics committee theologically-knowledgable and detail-minded enough to notice that the cannon of Scripture doesn’t exist?

I’m disappointed. I’ve come to expect more from Stoa.

So how does this affect you as a competitor?

Well, you probably shouldn’t give a speech on mounted guns. It’s just not a good idea. 🙂

But you should probably tell the judges that “cannon” should be “canon.” Any competitor who points that out in a round I’m judging will get major brownie points. If you’re smart enough to notice the error and bold enough to call them on it, good for you.


Stoa’s apologetics updates are by and large an improvement. Despite the bad and the very ugly, I’m impressed with the changes. Stoa competitors, enjoy your season. Rock the new topics.

And don’t be an ugly fish.