With the events of the past week concerning the capitol and the president that we’ve all seen to some degree or another, what I’m about to say is already obvious. But since I had already planned to write this article, I’ll go ahead and say it anyway. Content warning: I’ll be speaking much more bluntly than I normally do regarding both the gospel and the country. Given the topic and the times, this is no time to mince words. Continue Reading
Christmas is a time of intersections. Think back to the first Christmas. God intersected with man in the person of Christ. Angels intersected with shepherds. Wisemen intersected with the human appointed King of Judah, as well as the divinely appointed King of kings. And if I’m right about the star of Bethlehem (see my meditation on it last year here) God announced the work he was about to do with a number of intersections concerning the star of Bethlehem. One of those intersections was the triple conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, which I argued was understood by the wise men as a King (as in God’s king) was coming to Judah. That happened about the time that Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, was born.
Interestingly enough, there are some striking parallels between the intersections then, and intersections today, which though not perfect, make for some interesting thoughts to consider and meditate on – which of course is the purpose of a meditation. Let’s start with the king who was ruling at the time of the first advent: Herod, known as the Great, King of Judea. Continue Reading
|In their article “Is the Shroud of Turin Authentic – or Is it a Forgery” Creation Ministries International (CMI) supports the theory that the Shroud of Turin is not the authentic burial shroud of Christ – it is a medieval forgery. This article refutes that theory, along with the main reasons CMI gives for rejecting authenticity.
This article relies primarily on the testimony of Shroud of Turin Research Project (STRP) members and other expert testimony to demonstrate there is a wealth of evidence CMI apparently did not consider before drawing their conclusions. This article is intended to inform the reader of those evidences and make available the testimony of the STRP members and other expert witnesses so that readers may judge for themselves whether CMI has reached the correct conclusion. It is the position of this article that they did not. The reader is encouraged to click on the links to view the referenced testimonies.
We’re all aware of the total eclipse of the sun on August 21st, 2017. But perhaps you’re not aware why so many are excited:
— David Rives (@TheDavidRives)
August 12, 2017
For us Americans, this will be the first total eclipse of the sun viewable in the states since 1979. So we don’t have to fly half way around the world to see a total eclipse as astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez did in 1995, flying to Northern India to see the eclipse on October 24th of that year. Continue Reading
|The serpent deceives Eve. (Gen 3.1-5)||Was there really a talking snake that deceived Eve in the garden of Eden?|
‘I’m a Christian, but the Bible’s all stories1 … ’. As I write this article, that is not only the title of the lead article on Creation Ministries International website, but unfortunately it’s a sentiment shared by far too many devoted, well meaning, but dead wrong Christians; as well as by most Bible skeptics. I lay a good portion of the blame for the many misguided Christians in this area at the feet of Bible teaches and pastors who get in front of congregations or Bible classes every week, and talk about Bible “stories” (stories being typically understood as make believe) instead of Bible “accounts” (accounts being typically understood as a recounting of something factual that happened). You may think the difference is a minor thing – but the way an idea is labeled is critically important. Why else do companies pay so much attention to branding (a form of labeling) and spend millions to promote their own brand as well as protect it? Why else are there battles over how various issues are labeled?
Why do those who support liberal border policies prefer the term “Undocumented immigrants” over the more accurate “Illegal aliens?”
Why do so many in the LGBT community insist on calling those who support one man, one women marriage not “traditional marriage supporters” but rather “homophobic” or “haters”?
Because they know how you label an idea is critical to how it will be perceived. And they want to frame how people think about those issues without even discussing it. The church has handed the adversary an easy victory on that front by allowing the historic events of the bible to be labeled as “stories” – without raising an objection. (Please note my objection!) But terminology is just the tip of the iceberg. The root of the problem lies much deeper. And it’s tied up with why so many in the church still call Bible accounts “stories.” The reason: because unfortunately, for many Christians – as the CMI article points out – that is precisely what they are to such Christians: just stories. Not historic accounts, but stories – not to be taken literally. Not to be understood as actual history.
But as Bible and Hebrew scholars2 will tell you, the Genesis accounts (and biblical narratives in general) are presented not as fictional stories, but as straight forward narrative history, and are intended to be understood as such. What then are we do with things like a 6 day creation, and a talking snake?
The reason most people no longer believe in a 6 day creation is they need to squeeze in billions of years because they have embraced the godless theories of the big bang and neo-Darwinian evolution which require billions of years. I have already devoted a number of articles3 to exposing the numerous flaws of those godless theories so I will spend no time here. Instead, we turn to the objection of a talking serpent.
Some people reason that since snakes neither talk, nor even have the physical capability to do so (no vocal chords, etc.) the “serpent” referred to in the account of the fall in Genesis cannot be a real snake, and thus they reason, the account cannot be a true and accurate account. But like a murder mystery that seems obvious who-done-it at the beginning, you don’t come to the correct conclusion until you consider all the evidence; and the key pieces are not given until the end. So let’s take a step back, broaden our view and consider more evidence and determine if the “it can’t be true” position is a premature jumping to conclusions before all the evidence is in.
Who or what is the serpent?
Let’s start with a review of the biblical text: Gen 3.1-4
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
There would be no question that the serpent is Satan, or the devil, except for the few who deny that, claiming the serpent is never identified as Satan in scripture4. Perhaps the serpent is not identified as Satan in this small section, but it is simply not true that the serpent is not identified in scripture. Jesus appears to be referencing the serpent when speaking of the devil in John 8.44; and he clearly does so in his revelation to John:
The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
Only those who don’t know their bible well or are actively trying to deny the connection can miss this clear identification of the serpent as Satan. But that’s the easy identification. Let’s press on to the deeper questions:
You may wonder what’s the difference between a snake and the serpent? Let me suggest that the term “the serpent” acts as a technical term, a code word that in many place in scripture refers specifically to Satan. We see the key to the code in Rev 12.9 (above) – the serpent=Satan (as does the dragon=Satan)5. Now let’s go back and re-read the passage in light of that understanding – that “the serpent” refers to “Satan”. Continue Reading
In an age of visually oriented communications such as TV, movies and the internet, the power of symbols is not lost on content makers such as advertisers and movie producers. This is particularly true when you combine pop icons with these symbols to make a lasting impression. Case in point: diamonds. The point was indelibly etched in the courting rule book when the iconic beauty Marilyn Monroe sang:
Since then, aside from the numerous remakes2 from beauties trying to channel the appeal and success of Marilyn, we’ve had regular reminders that “diamond’s are a girl’s best friend.” They come right around this time of year – in time for the Christmas shopping season, to reminded you that if you really want to express your love to a lady, the proper way to do it is with a diamond. This year it was done with a twist – taking a form of nature documentary and using penguins instead of people3, but the message was the same.
There are multiple lessons for Christians here – aside from the well known fact that advertisers can use beautiful women to sell their wares. They are as follows:
1. God first used signs & symbols, and continues to use them
During the creation week, God said:
And as the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land, God gave them these instructions:
So God was the first to use signs and symbols.4 And of particular interest is his command to his people to have a symbol of his word, his instructions to them for proper living displayed prominently both on their person , and on their houses. This command was fulfilled with the placing of tephillim (Phylacteries in the New Testament (Matt 23.5)) on the wrist and forehead; and a mezuzah on the house. Why? Because what advertisers have learned, God already knew: the power of a constant reminder in the form of a symbol. His purpose is clear: to impress the importance of His word upon His people, God used symbols – the tephillim and mezuzah – which both symbolized his word and contained portions of it.
Another symbol, mentioned briefly in my article Physical Evidence that Jesus Existed, is that of the Chi Rho (the first two Greek letters in “Christ”). History records how God used the symbol to inspire General and soon to be Roman Emperor Constantine to trust in Christ, not the pagan gods on the eve before what would be a decisive battle for the victor. Constantine’s victory at the Mulvian bridge over his rival Maxentius led to Constantine extending his power, allowing him to legalize Christianity in the Roman empire, ending (eventually) the widespread persecution of Christians and setting the stage for accelerated growth of the church.
A final example: Jesus indicated that his return will be preceded or accompanied by “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matt 24.30). Thus signs and symbols have been in use by God to further the faith since the beginning, and continue to be in use. Clearly we have as a precedent God’s own use of signs and symbols in furtherance of the faith.
2. God redeems and claims symbols for his own use
The cross is arguably the most recognized symbol in the world. For Christians it represents Christ’s passion and redemption, hope and eternal life. Even for non-believers it is a well recognized symbol of Christianity. But it was not always that way. The cross is after all an instrument of death. And not just any death, a death of torture – a slow death of literally excruciating pain. (The root of excruciate is crux – meaning cross). The cross was used not only to execute, but to intimidate. In that regard it also excelled because it became one of the most feared forms of execution in the ancient world.
Even so, God took that instrument of death and torture, and turned it into a symbol of hope, and of the true faith. That transformation from sign of intimation and death; to sign of hope for the faithful has not been lost upon historians: Continue Reading
|Interior – St. Peter’s Basilica as painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini||
Claims that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed are simply untrue. Here’s why.
In the companion article, Is Faith Rational, I note that many atheists claim:
You’ll find this objection from bloggers and authors2 alike among other skeptics. In response, I pointed out 4 items that are historical or archaeological evidence of the existence of Jesus to silence this claim. They are:
In the companion article there was not space to discuss these issues, so here is that discussion.
Physical Evidences of Jesus’ Existence:
First, please note these are presented as evidences not proofs. It’s very difficult to “prove” anything that happened in the past. However what we do have left from events in the past is evidences that the event occurred. The following are evidences that Jesus existed.
1. St Peter’s Basilica; Cathedrals and Churches all over the world.
Before moving on – wait – I hear an atheist saying, based on that logic every pagan god for which a temple was built must also exist. Nice try. Let’s consider a pagan temple the Bible mentions – the temple of Artemis (Roman name: Diana) in the city of Ephesus. (Acts 19.27) and compare how people treat a mythical god with how they treat Jesus:
– Is Artemis worshipped in any significant way today? Does she have thousands of temples/churches?
– When swearing or cursing, does anyone swear by Artemis? Or use Artemis as an expletive?
– Does anyone claim Artemis loved mankind enough to become incarnate, live on earth and redeem mankind from his own sin and folly?
– Is time divided before and after the coming of Artemis?
– Does Artemis have an animal marked on its body with her symbol that carried her in triumph as Jesus does? (John 12.12-15) Has her symbol inspired kings and armies like the Chi Rho did Constantine and his army?
– Did Artemis prophesy anything that was fulfilled?
Whether you love Jesus and revere him or despise him and use his name as an expletive, clearly the responses to Jesus has always been, and always will be qualitatively and quantitatively different from any other so called god. This makes both the worship of Jesus and his places of worship also qualitatively different. There is an entire fabric of evidences that St Peter’s Basilica becomes part of strengthening the entire case for the existence of Jesus. The temple of Artemis [or substitute any false god – Zeus, whatever] is a single thread that simply reminds man of his tendency to idolatry and folly. So please, don’t bother with the comparisons to other fallen temples.
2. Nails From the the Cross of Jesus
While this find is helpful, what’s even more interesting is this: archeologist Simcha Jacobovici, noted that in the grave of the Caiaphas were two nails. He believes he has found the very nails used to affix Jesus to the cross, stating he has made: Continue Reading