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Shrouded Thinking

I came across this news item last week regarding the Shroud of Turin.  As we were sitting in Sunday School class yesterday with the youth at our church, we talked about it for a few minutes.  Of course, I realized that they had no idea what the Shroud of Turin even is, but that was pretty easy to explain.

The debate is still going as to the authenticity of the Shroud.  I am not firmly in either camp.  If it is genuine, that is certainly interesting and amazing, but it won’t make my faith any more firm than it already is.  I am completely convinced that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the strength of evidence that has nothing to do with the Shroud.  If it is shown to be fake or fabricated long after the fact, it will have no effect on me for the same reason.  But I did see this cockamamie new theory from an academic who is convinced that the Shroud is genuine, but who has taken that conclusion to a bizarre place.

Art historian Thomas de Wesselow is convinced the Shroud is real and did touch Christ’s body.

But the Cambridge academic insists that the image on the cloth fooled the Apostles into believing Christ had come back to life, and the Resurrection was in fact an optical illusion.

Please note that we are talking about an “art historian” so I am left to conclude that his biblical knowledge and scholarship is likely to be lacking.  The idea that the early disciples would be so amazed by an image on a cloth that they would treat it as if the man they had walked with was “living in the image” or whatever he wants to call it, is insulting to the intelligence of first century believers for one thing and insulting to the testimony of Scripture for another.

His theory is based on the worst kind of Bible “scholarship” and I put it in quotes because it isn’t very scholarly at all.  He takes one verse (ONE) as proof for his theory and apparently ignores the rest of the story.  He tries to assert that Paul claimed that the resurrection is “not about flesh and blood” in 1 Corinthians 15(verse 50 according to the article).  I am not sure what translation he is working from but he draws completely the wrong conclusion about what Paul is saying.  At the beginning of that very chapter, Paul asserts that the risen Jesus was seen by Cephas (Peter) and then the rest of the disciples, and then at least 500 others, and then James and the rest of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:4-7).  These appearances are the parading of an image on a sheet.  These are appearances in person and in the flesh.  A different kind of flesh to be sure (he walked into locked and shut rooms), but flesh that ate and could be touched.  Read the Gospel accounts and picture a pair of disciples walking down the road when a giant bedsheet with a picture suddenly appears next to them and starts talking and you will see just how silly and ill read this “art historian” has to be.

Is the Shroud of Turin legitimate?  Maybe.  Is it possible that the disciples and the first century witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were all looking at it and thinking that this was Jesus raised from the dead?  Not a chance.  Just picture one of them trying to give a piece of fish to a cloth and being fooled into thinking the sheet ate it.

 

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Misunderstandings, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, False Teachers, History, Messiah, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Getting Understanding

7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.  – Proverbs 4:7

I have a funny post queued up for later in the day, but I wanted to get this up first.  I have been doing several messages in the last few months playing off of this realization that we frequently misunderstand or make up meanings for obscure or difficult things in Scripture.  It is based on something I heard from First Fruits of Zion a year or two ago.  I found a couple of video clips on youtube that give a fuller explanation of this concept that I highly recommend.  It will take about 15 minutes of your time to watch these two clips back to back.  It is time well spent.

I know the end of the second clip includes a promo for some of their study material, but I can say this. Their study material is some of the most in-depth and thorough stuff I have ever seen.  When I got my first copy of Torah Club Volume 4 several years ago, I went through it with a fine tooth comb to look for areas of questionable scholarship or theological issues.  These guys do a great job of providing information as well as the sources that go into their materials and conclusions.  I highly recommend their work to anyone I talk to these days and I always enjoy checking out their new materials.  I currently have a small wishlist going for stuff I haven’t yet managed to purchase.

Here is one last video that talks about some of the deeper Hebraic concepts in the Gospels.  Enjoy.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Misunderstandings, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Discipleship, Faith, FFOZ, Giving, Gospel, Hebrew, Holy Spirit, Humor, Kingdom, Questions, theology, Truth, Yeshua | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes

I changed the layout for the church’s site a day or so ago and I thought I might experiment over here as well.  Tell me what you think of the new layout if you have an opinion one way or the other in the comments on this post.  In the meantime, I plan to have a new post up for the “One Word” for this year.  There is a word that came across my path a little over a month ago that really struck me and I am choosing to focus on that word this year.  It isn’t an English word, so it will take a little more explaining and that will come in a day or two if all goes according to plan.

I have several posts in the hopper in various states of completion also, so there should be some more content coming soon.  I pray that you are all having a wonderful start to the new year and that you all had a wonderful holiday season as well.  We had more blessings than we can count around here.  But that always seems to be the case.

Well, more to come soon.

Categories: Fun, One Word, personal, Questions | 2 Comments

TULIPY: The Acronym for Hyper-Calvinists (i.e. 6-pointers)

I have had a flash of inspiration.  Perhaps someone, somewhere has already done this before, but I can’t say that I have seen it elsewhere so I thought I would give it a whirl.  I run in some blog circles where people complain about hyper-Calvinists.  I have a dear brother in the Lord who was burned so bad by a group of extreme hyper-Calvinists (we referred to them as 6.5 pointers in humorous love) that he would nearly froth at the mouth at the mere mention of Calvinism at all.  This post should not be taken as a diatribe against Calvinism as a whole or even all that seriously.  It is meant in a spirit of levity to encourage potential discussion.  I love my brothers and sisters who are serious Calvinists and who are passionate for the Lord and the Gospel.

Please further note that I am not a 5-point Calvinist.  I am probably more like a 2-3 pointer if anything, but I will try to describe the points with some accuracy up through my own addition.  These descriptions will be intermingled with my observations as well.  With all that said, here is the acronym spelled out for posterity.

T – Total Depravity

Ok, we all pretty much get that and know what it means I would think.  Man is totally depraved.  Scripture makes this point repeatedly, and one episode of Jerry Springer will drive this point home to even the most reluctant of individuals I would think.  The other point behind this however is that man is completely helpless regarding his salvation.  We don’t even look for salvation on our own.

U – Unconditional Election

We can not earn God’s grace and cannot merit salvation.  There is nothing within us that makes God love us, He just does.  All our righteousness is filthy rags type of things are the general point of this point.  From my perspective, the idea behind this is generally right, but I hesitate to do much explaining about how God does these things.  Even Paul was eventually rendered speechless in this regard (see the end of Romans 11).

L – Limited Atonement

Since not everyone is saved based on the words of Jesus, it follows that Jesus’ death must not be effective for all people in the end of all things.  This particular point is generally arrived at through logical means in my experience.  Both those who support it and those who argue against it can cite John 3:16 as it becomes a discussion/argument of who is covered by whosoever.

I – Irresistible Grace

This is the teaching that God’s grace is irresistible to those who are elected to salvation and they will respond to the call of God through the Spirit.  This is also a hotly debatable topic, mostly because simple observation yields plenty of examples of people who hear the clear Gospel message and don’t respond to it.  Frankly, I think it is more amazing that anyone can reject God at all.  This doctrine reflects that in some means, but I think any attempt to explain why some reject God’s call by placing them in a category of “unelected” or whatever is not correct.

P – Perseverance of the Saints

This doctrine simply states that those who are called, elected and chosen will remain in the faith without fail as God is capable of keeping them.  This sentiment is perfectly biblical and true as far as it goes.  I think the main problem in applying it stems from the fact that we never can know who is who from our limited perspective.  In fact, many of the problems of Calvinist theology and much of the rest of theology is our extremely limited understanding and perspective.

Y – You’re Irrelevant

This one is all mine, but you may have seen it coming.  Given all of the above as absolutely true, many have moved on to another very logical point.  It doesn’t matter what we do, since God has planned it all ahead of time.  This comes out in various ways.  I have seen a church that did no external evangelism.  They preached the Gospel in Sunday morning service and expected God to draw those who were called to their building.  I have seen others who assume that because everything is up to God, it absolutely doesn’t matter what you do about anything.  Ultimately you are either chosen or not chosen, so just live your life and trust God(I mean why not do it anyway right) and He will do everything.

Let me say it once again.  I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters.  I will work alongside you all day long to share the Gospel and make disciples for Jesus Christ.  I just wanted to write a post that points out the all too real end of taking this theology to its logical conclusions (I have seen it far too often for my liking).  The only thing that can keep us from going there is the reminder that while all of these points may be true from God’s perspective; we are not God and they don’t work from our limited perspective.

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church, Discipleship, Faith, Fun, Gospel, Grace, Humor, Questions, Salvation, Southern Baptist, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mercy, Judgment, and All that Falls Between

Sunday night after we had arrived back home from a longer than expected return trip from the Black Hills, I pretty much just wanted to veg out and then head to bed a little early perhaps.  But that plan was interrupted by a text message from my sister that simply said:

R U watching the news?

It took a few seconds to switch on the TV and flip to Fox News, only to see Geraldo (who Rush jokingly refers to as “the grim reaper” for his ubiquitous presence in announcing celebrity deaths) and a crawl that announced that Bin Laden had been killed.

There are no words to convey what was going through my mind at that point.  I couldn’t have said much or typed anything.  In fact, I missed sending out a weekday devotional post completely on Monday from a complete inability to process or write anything useful (this blog has been on a slightly longer hiatus of the same sort).  The next day, I ended up writing a devotion for the Tuesday edition that addressed some of these feelings.  All of my friends on facebook seemed to have something to say about the matter and the opinions ran along a pretty varied continuum.  Blog posts were written and things were shared from every corner, but all I could put down at first was this post for Tuesday’s devotional.  While this could be a shameless plug for the devotional, I will just repost it here as well:

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.  – Proverbs 11:10

After the news broke about the death of Bin Laden Sunday night, I had kind of a conflicted feeling about the scenes of celebration that I was witnessing.  I understand the sentiment to be sure; as this proverb indicates, this is a natural reaction to such an event.  I also noticed many people quoting various Bible verses both “pro” celebration and “con” celebration, which might lead some to think the Bible is a bit contradictory about this type of thing.  But that only comes from a failure to recognize the difference between commandments and observation.  The Bible observes the truth, we tend to celebrate when we feel someone gets “what’s coming to them” in whatever way that manifests.  That isn’t a commandment however.  We are encouraged to mourn the demise of the wicked and to seek their repentance and warn them of judgment if given an opportunity to do so.  God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked either and we are to take our cues from His standards and His perspective.  We shouldn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked and when we do it is another reminder of God’s perfect character juxtaposed against our own fleshly nature.

Take this time as a reminder of the fact that God loved each of us while we were still His enemy and wicked in His sight.

6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  – Romans 5:8

A few weeks back in Bible study at our church, we were talking about the passage in the book of James where he states that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”  There has been a lot of talk about this lately in fact with Rob Bell’s book proclaiming that “Love Wins” and seeming to say that judgment will never come.  But while we are commanded to love and forbidden to judge, God is perfect in love and in judgment and has the authority to administer both.  He will judge, both the living and the dead.  His judgment is sure, more sure than the CIA or the Navy Seals or a human court or any other judgment on this earth.

In that verse I mentioned from James, we are told that judgment is “without mercy to him who has shown no mercy” and Jesus taught this same principle in Matthew 18:23-35.  Why do I share it here?  As much as we are tempted to condemn Bin Laden or someone else that we feel “deserves it,” we should never imagine that we are any better or different.  Yet, God’s rich mercy has flowed to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  If you have received mercy, you must give it as well.  Leave judgment and all that falls short of mercy to the only One who is qualified to mete it out.

Categories: America, Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Culture, devotional, Discipleship, Gospel, Kingdom, Law, Messiah, politics, Questions, Salvation, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Incompetence, Ignorance or Intentionality

I don’t spend a whole lot more time thinking about politics than I have to anymore these days.  I try to stay informed for my duty as a citizen of the United States and as a voter, but I don’t stay immersed in politics like I used to when I was younger.  That said, I keep seeing stories about President Obama that just make it hard to ignore that they have a serious problem up there in Washington D.C.

The latest round of unbelievable absurdity comes courtesy of the Easter season.  Let me give you two stories and you be the judge.  Is this the result of incompetence, ignorance or is this intentional?

First, the White House neglected to put out an official  Easter message.  Turns out they were able to remember Good Friday Earth Day but seemingly blanked on making any kind of statement about Easter.  Maybe it is better this way considering the mess they made of it last year.

In 2010, Obama was criticized for releasing an all-inclusive Easter greeting. He reached out to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people of no faith at all in a statement about a holiday that is uniquely Christian.

This is the man that some people suspect is a “secret Muslim” and not a real Christian despite his statements to the contrary, so surely the ignoring Easter thing is just an attempt to avoid making “religious statements.”

By comparison, the White House has released statements recognizing the observance of major Muslim holidays and released statements in 2010 on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha.

The White House  . . . did release an eight-paragraph statement heralding Earth Day. Likewise, the president’s weekend address mentioned neither Good Friday or Easter.*

But wait, Obama finally went to church as President.  Of course, he wanted to avoid any potentially controversial type of church like that one in Illinois that caused so much trouble for him in the 2008 campaign.

“[Pastor Smith] talked about how his baby grandson’s gurgling is actually “talking” because he is saying ‘I am here … they tried to write me off as 3/5 a person in the Constitution, but I am here right now … and is saying I am not going to let anybody from stopping me from being what God wants me to be.'”

An interesting tidbit to throw into an Easter sermon but surely that is just a quirky thing since his grandson was there for the first time.  Surely, Obama didn’t pick another church with a pastor who has a history of making inflammatory statements from the pulpit.  Did he?

No great research team was needed to uncover what comes next.  The fact that a YouTube search immediately grants the answer only underscores how astronomically inept/lazy/biased the media can be.  This is in fact another pastor who sees racism around every corner, preaches white hatred, and equates talk radio with the Klan, specifically mentioning Rush.

Oh, he did.  I just have to know.  Is this the result of incompetence (i.e. the people who advise Obama and Obama himself don’t investigate these things ahead of time), ignorance (i.e. they are truly clueless that such things could be seen as bad or malicious) or intentional (i.e. this is who he really is and they just hope people don’t realize it)?

What do you think?  With this much evidence piling up, it appears that the charitable “benefit of the doubt” is less and less of an option for even the most staunch defenders of the president.

Categories: America, Christianity, Culture, politics, Questions, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Bit of Truth Would Be Nice

It was Jesus who said that the “truth shall set you free.”  At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think more politicians could stand to learn that truth.  I have written in the past about the Obama birth certificate.  In the time that has passed since, the waters have only gotten murkier not clearer.  There is still no long-form birth certificate that has been released and the officials who claim to have seen it (or something like it since they are intentionally vague even about what they have on record) are now resorting to lying about why they won’t make it public.

It was in an interview with MSNBC that Fukino asserted that the state issues only short-form Certifications of Live Birth.

“What he got, everybody got,” Fukino said in the interview. “He put out exactly what everybody gets when they ask for a birth certificate.”

Joshua Wisch of the Hawaii attorney general’s office went further, telling MSNBC the original document belongs to the state and cannot be released to anyone – or copied by anyone.

“It’s a Department of Health record and it can’t be released to anybody,” he told MSNBC, saying there are no provisions that authorize copying such records.

I can only speculate that whatever the truth is about his birth certificate; it must be far more damaging or problematic than the kabuki dance they are putting on now.  The fact that their claims are easily falsifiable just adds to the embarrassment.

“Danae” obtained her long-form, hospital-generated certificate of birth to win a $200 bet with another FreeRepublic participant operating under the username “james777.” The dare was for someone to prove he or she could get a long-form birth certificate from the Hawaii DOH after 2001, when the Hawaii DOH went electronic and agency spokeswoman Janice Okubo claimed the department quit issuing such documents.

The Hawaii Revised Statutes, Paragraph 38-13(a) specifies that the agency “shall, upon request, furnish an applicant a certified copy of any certificate, or the contents of any certificate, or any part thereof.” Further, subparagraph C allows that copies of birth certificates “may be made by photograph, dry copy reproduction, typing, computer printout or other process approved by the director of health.”

Others have obtained long-form birth certificates from Hawaii,  according to a report in “The Post & Email” blog by Miki Booth.

I know that honesty might be too much to expect from a politician in some people’s opinion, but I think we need to demand the truth of this situation.  After all, it’s just a piece of paper.

Categories: America, politics, Questions, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Truly Firm Foundation

Those who read here much will know that I have a fondness for highlighting things that affirm the biblical narrative or history of Scripture.  There are so many things out there that I would never dream of including them all, but I stumbled across this lecture about the accuracy of the historical details in the Gospels that was simply fascinating to me (hat tip: Rosh Pina Project).  This is great stuff and the guy giving the information is entertaining and engaging.  It is a little under and well worth the time.

I am reminded of Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:16-21:

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Discipleship, Faith, Gospel, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thomas Jefferson – Heretic? Yes. Atheist? Think Again.

Interesting story from over the weekend that fits within the stream of recent posts on this blog.  One of Thomas Jefferson’s self made “bibles” is going on display in the Smithsonian soon.  In many ways this is hardly unique.  A lot of people do their own “cut and paste” version of Scripture, but very few go to the extreme that Jefferson did with his.  Most people are content to simply ignore vast portions of Scripture on the belief that they have been “done away with” or are obsolete or something like that.

Jefferson’s “bible” is an attempt to discern what he thought were the real teachings of Jesus.  You see, while atheists like to proclaim Jefferson as one of their own and thus try to dismiss his use of Christian terminology and thought, it turns out that Jefferson was far more interested in the words and work of Christ than they might like to admit:

During the election of 1800, Jefferson was denounced as a “howling atheist” and “a confirmed infidel” known for “vilifying the divine word, and preaching insurrection against God.” But the Virginian also revered Jesus as “the first of human Sages” and was, according to one biographer, “the most self-consciously theological of all American presidents.”

Let me be quick to point out that Jefferson’s theology and view of Christ was nowhere near orthodoxy.  Jefferson was actively engaged in remaking God to suit himself and his own views.  That is why he produced a cut and paste scripture of his very own.  Jefferson generally downplayed the miracle stories about Jesus and didn’t believe in the resurrection either based on these accounts, but atheists might want to take a pause before declaring him one of their own:

After completing this second micro-testament, Jefferson claimed in a letter to a friend that it demonstrated his bona fides as a Christian. “It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

This is not your typical atheist speech pattern.  Jefferson claims about himself is that he was a “true disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”  I would dispute this point vigorously as the things that he denies aren’t just the work of a couple of overzealous followers of Christ, they are bedrock beliefs that are rooted in the Old Testament long before Christ even lived.  Jesus’ disciples didn’t “make up a bunch of stuff,” they testified to what they saw firsthand and proclaimed how this was all shown beforehand in the Law and the Prophets.

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

– 2 Peter 1:16-21

Jefferson was apparently unable to recognize this and was content to create his own “cleverly devised myths” in their stead.  That makes him a heretic, not an atheist.

Categories: Agnostics, America, Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, church, Culture, Discipleship, Faith, False Teachers, Kingdom, Law, politics, Questions, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Interesting Archeology Finds from the Middle East

I ran across some really interesting news this morning and I wanted to share it, but it occurred to me that my reactions are a sign of growth in me as well.  The news concerns a recent find in the Middle East of some sealed metal books and other apparent first century writings.  A couple of the posts I read about the incident were breathless sort of speculation that “this is important, this means something.”  It is as though the finding of these is yet another harbinger of the end of times and so forth.

I am certainly excited by the find, and I pray that these are genuine articles and give us more insight into first century life and thought.  But, the growth I recognize in me is the hesitancy to join the rampant speculation and get sucked in to the overboard side of the excitement.  Am I excited by the potential of this discovery? Yes!  Am I looking forward to hearing more about it as time goes on? You betcha!  But I am not going to jump the gun and start declaring all sorts of wild things based on the initial speculations and that is indeed a sign of growth for me.

I invite you to check out the article above and the related links and tell me what you think about these plates/books and the find of these materials.  I am intrigued by the fact that so many of these books are about Sukkot and such.

Categories: Archeology, Christianity, End Times, Feasts, Growth, One Word, personal, Prophecy, Questions, theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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