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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Just Archaeology- 8

#1. Maybe It Was Diseasehttp://www.archaeology.org/news/2667-141029-chimu-skeleton-sacrifice

Peruvian archaeologist Gabriel Prieto and John Verano of Tulane University have expanded the excavation of a site where the sacrificed remains of 42 children and 76 young llamas were found in 2011. “This is unusual, and not what we’ve seen before, especially on the coast of Peru,”

Religion sells even if people hate it. That topic brings in a lot of interest and money. What I find amazing is the fact that almost every time an archaeologist comes across a dead body a religious ritual or sacrifice is invoked. Now that is a bit of an exaggeration but that is what it seems like. What about other forms of death? Did they not take place in the ancient world?  So instead of a sacrifice here maybe these children and animals were victims of a plague or mass murder due to genocide.

Having read about Nazi women executing Jewish children and the many mass murders the Nazis committed I find it hard to accept that these remains were of a religious nature. Without supporting contemporary documentation it is hard to say why these bodies were located where they were and why. But it would be nice if archaeologists would stop painting religious people as blood thirsty maniacs. I do not care what religious beliefs they hold, most religious people do not sacrifice others.

I am beginning to think that the secular archaeologists have an agenda to paint any religion in a bad light regardless of what the evidence says.

#2. More Likely Their Funerary Practiceshttp://www.archaeology.org/news/2672-141030-egyptian-mummies-scanned

“The technical sophistication of all three mummies suggests that these were well-off individuals. We would expect to see that reflected in the condition of their teeth and skeletons. The CT scan helps us to better understand their lifestyles,”

Not really. The technical sophistication only demonstrates to the modern world that the embalmers mastered their craft. It says nothing about the individuals at all. Teeth and skeletons also do not show much about a lifestyle because even the poor take care of their teeth and some wealthy people do not take care of themselves very well. The small objects would merely be an attempt to make the corpse look good for the relatives. That is done in the modern world as well.

#3. An Interesting Findhttp://www.archaeology.org/news/2660-141028-amphora-diver-submarine

Skilled divers from the group Global Underwater Explorers are helping Italian archaeologists investigate a shipwreck under 410 feet of water near the Aeolian Islands. The well-preserved ship, thought to have sailed between Rome and Carthage sometime between 218 and 210 B.C., has been out of reach of looters and fishing lines and nets.

From what I understand, underwater archaeology is very dangerous. It takes special equipment to reach these sites and it is difficult to extract what they find. It will be interesting to hear what they did find among the wreck.

#4. On Cuehttp://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/archaeology-today/phaistos-disk-deciphered/

Phaistos Disk Deciphered? Not Likely, Say Scholars

I tend to agree with these scholars.

Since its discovery, scholars have debated the origin, meaning and function of the disk, as well as what its symbols actually say. The disk has been interpreted to be a hymn, a curse and even an almanac.

One major problem with attempting to decipher the signs? There aren’t enough examples to work with. The script stamped on the disk appears nowhere else, but two objects display similar—though not identical—signs: a bronze axe from Arkalokhori in central Crete and a clay seal from Phaistos.

Despite its mysteriousness, the Phaistos Disk is thought to be authentic by many, but not all, scholars.

but again, the main archaeologist turns to religion to make the news

Owens adds, “Why should the Disk be treated differently as a Cretan syllabic inscription? My Ph.D. demonstrated that Minoan is an independent, insular Indo-European language. The Disk is a genuine Minoan religious inscription in a syllabic script in an IE language, so we must try both to ‘read’ and to try to ‘understand’ the text

Sorry but I can’t agree with that conclusion simply because we do not have enough information to corroborate the identity.

#5. Another Interesting Findhttp://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/rare-inscription-dedicated-to-hadrian-found-in-jerusalem/

Salvage excavations led by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists Dr. Rina Avner and Roie Greenwald north of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate have uncovered a stone fragment engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman emperor Hadrian. Scholars already consider it one of the most important Latin inscriptions discovered in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem scholars Avner Ecker and Hannah Cotton, who translated the stone’s six lines of Latin, said that the inscription was dedicated by the Legio X Fretensis (“Tenth legion of the sea straits”) to Hadrian in the year 129/130 C.E. The inscription reads:

“To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country [dedicated by] the Tenth Legion Fretensis Antoniniana.”

At least they are not attributing the inscription to religion or religious ceremonies.

#6. Back To Religionhttp://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/canaanite-cult-complex-discovered-at-tel-burna/

Excavations at Tel Burna, located in the Shephelah region in Israel, have uncovered a 3,300-year-old cult complex where Baal, the Canaanite storm god, may have been worshipped. While the complex has not been fully excavated yet, its 52 by 52-feet courtyard has given archaeologists an idea of the overall size of the place. The excavators found within the complex three connected cups, facemask fragments, massive storage jars and burnt animal bones.

“From the finds within the building, we can reconstruct the occurrence of feasts, indicated by several goblets and a large amount of animal bones,” excavation director Itzick Shai of Ariel University told LiveScience. “Some of these animal bones are burnt, probably indicating their use in some sacrificial activity.”

Maybe it was a restaurant that catered to large groups and had outdoor seating? Sorry but there is not enough evidence to say that this was a cult site.

#7. The Ancients Were Talentedhttp://www.archaeology.org/issues/152-1411/features/2591-germany-recreating-neolithic-toolkit

Not too long ago, archaeologist Rengert Elburg found something that convinced him that “Stone Age sophistication” is not a contradiction in terms. It was a wood-lined well, discovered during construction work in Altscherbitz, near the eastern German city of Leipzig. Buried more than 20 feet underground, preserved for millennia by cold, wet, oxygen–free conditions, the timber box at the bottom of the well was 7,000 years old—the world’s oldest known intact wooden architecture.

Actually, nothing is new under the sun and believers already knew that the ancients could build, fashion metal, and do a lot more than they are given credit. Genesis told us that long before science and archaeology did.

17 Cain [j]had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. 18 Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad [k]became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael [l]became the father of Methushael, and Methushael [m]became the father of Lamech. 19 Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. (Gen. 4 NASB)

Even after so many millennia, the well’s extraordinary state of preservation began to give the researchers clues to the tools and techniques the ancient woodworkers used. They learned, for example, that to reinforce the bottom of the well, prehistoric carpenters had fashioned boards and beams from old-growth oaks three feet thick, then fit them together using tusked mortise-and-tenon joints, a technique not seen again until the Roman Empire, five millennia later. (from the article)

Ancient people were not a bunch of knuckle-draggers who one day suddenly developed speech, cognitive thought or even abilities. They were given all those abilities and talents at the beginning when God created Adam and Eve.

#8. The Sea Peoplehttp://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/the-philistines-to-the-north/

Through archaeology, however, we have learned that the Philistines were just one tribe of Sea Peoples who invaded Canaan in the 12th century B.C.E. and settled along the coast. The Bible refers to all of these tribes collectively as the Philistines.

The Philistines established the famous Pentapolis—Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath and Ekron—in the southern coastal plain. Archaeological excavations at each of these sites, save for Gaza (due to the modern buildings constructed atop its tell), reveal a rich material culture with origins in the Aegean. The Philistines were far from lacking in culture as the modern derogatory term suggests.

In “The Other ‘Philistines’” in the November/December 2014 issue of BAR, Ephraim Stern sheds light on the “Philistines” in the Bible who lived in the northern region of Canaan. These settlers may be called the northern Sea Peoples to differentiate them from the Sea Peoples who lived in the south (the Philistines)

I have come across references and articles on the sea People many times throughout the years but haven’t been able to give them a lot of time or thought. I am unsure about the conclusions of archaeologists concerning these migrating societies because we have little documentation on them. It is possible that the Philistines were part of a marauding horde but it is also possible that they were just migrating to find a new home after theirs had been destroyed. We really cannot trust Egyptian records for we know that they embellished their history to make themselves look good for future generations.

 

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in academics, archaeology, history, science, theology

 

Announcements

I am taking Sunday off to meet some people so I want to get an extra post in today and possibly tomorrow.

#1. BIG NEWS—  other people do it so I will this time

Over the past few weeks, with God’s permission, I put together 2 collections of what are, hopefully, the best posts on this website. Since I am not famous I have to use amazon’s createspace program and my own marketing (which I hate as I detest self-promotion). The books should be available sometime next week and I will warn you the content style is not perfect as I am sure I missed errors so grant me a little slack please. I do not have a staff or a wife to help out so I get tired of doing the detail work very easily.

The titles are: Much To Talk about, Vol. 1 & Much To Talk About, Vol. 2. They are under my pen name Dr. David Tee because I do have enemies and I do not put personal information on the internet if I can avoid it. The title Dr. is real (I have a THd) but do not talk about my scholastic achievements that much simply because the focus should be on God and not me. That is how you will find the books, very skimpy on details as the focus is on the content and what God wants people to learn.

I hope to put the links up soon.

#2. Peter Enns’ Big Announcementhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/10/superamazing-major-announcement/

Also, as most of you know, I invite spirited discussion and differences of opinion are welcome and encouraged, but I will (regrettably) begin deleting comments that I feel cross the line from spirited to insulting, baiting, argumentative for the sake of it…you know what I mean.

In other words, no one will know the criteria he uses as they will be as subjective as the ones Rachel Held Evans uses. I do not know why he is making a big deal out of this as he has moderated in the past because he banned me without warning or due process. That is one of the things I have noticed in people when they get the power to moderate. The power goes to their heads and they forget about how they feel when they were banned without cause or anything just. They practice the very forms of moderation they would complain about if it took place against them.

I have no problem with people moderating their forums BUT at least be honest, give some warnings, be just and fair and learn to take a little criticism. I do not have to worry about comments that much as I have in total what most people get in one post but I try to let all comments through. Some are more difficult than others to approve but I do it. I haven’t banned anyone yet because they disagree with me but I have been banned for the slightest comment. Ms. Evans banned me because I told the truth–she doesn’t have any answers for anyone.

I am sure there are lots of people who disagree with me and they are welcome to post their insight here. As I have said, I may have missed something. Anyways, Enns thinks this is a big deal, I just wonder how fair an dhonest he will be in his moderation.

#3. Jacobovici’s Big Newshttp://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/oh-boy-historian-simcha-divulges-the-worlds-best-kept-secret/

In a startling follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Jesus Family Tomb, a historical detective story that unravels a newly translated document filled with startling revelations and fascinating detail about the life and times of Jesus.

If you do not know who Jacobovici is then you are a lucky person. he used to have a t.v. show on the History channel called the Naked Archaeologist and everyone (real scholars, archaeologists etc.) joked that he was neither naked or an archaeologist. He wasn’t and still isn’t. He was very annoying throughout his show and the only parts I enjoyed (yes I watched it) was when he had real scholars and archaeologists talking plus he did provide some interesting information from time to time.

I have actually watched most of his archaeological shows and have been dumbfounded at how he was able to get professionals to side with him on a variety of theories (James Tabor comes to mind). This latest work probably is his most outlandish scheme yet

Waiting to be rediscovered in the British Library is an ancient manuscript of the early Church copied by an anonymous monk

key words are in bold. This is his modus operandi which he has pulled before. In his show The Exodus Decoded he went to a Greek museum and pointed to an artifact on display claiming it was depicting a scene from when a tribe of Jews left Moses and went to Greece. He was overly excited as he exclaimed that the museum didn’t know what they had—- right, a museum full of experts visited by other professional experts didn’t know what was there and waited to be discovered by some unknown who had his own t.v. show.

This is the kind of thinking one has to put up with if they are going to watch his work or read his words. Needless to say, many experts have gone over that mss. and dismissed it for what it was, an ancient version of the Davinci Code or some other similar novel. BUT the saints be praised, Jacobovici is here to save the day and give us the truth which replaces the bible….  Yes I am being sarcastic I that last line but that is what I am driven to when i read his logic and reasoning.

By the way I am being a little mean here on purpose as Jacobovici is known to sue people

http://world.time.com/2013/01/29/a-feud-between-biblical-archaeologists-goes-to-court/

so if he sues me maybe I will get famous and people will buy my books and i won’t have to do self-promotion anymore  🙂

#4. Corey’s Announcementhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/the-evil-part-of-halloween-you-probably-didnt-think-of/

The evil part of Halloween you probably didn’t think of is most of that tasty, free chocolate we’re going to consume in a festive spirit is chocolate tainted with child slave labor.

Wow! He must think that no one knows anything about this to make such a big deal out of this news. Who would have thought that corporations and companies would actually use slave labor to maximize profits? We thought that all corporations and businesses followed the Bible and God’s ways and paid everyone a fair wage.

If we boycotted every business that used some form of slave labor we would not be wearing any clothes, wearing Nike’s, but on a good note we would not have a prostitution and sex-trade problem.

You see, while it is “out of sight, out of mind” to those of us privileged to live where we do,

Really? I guess he hasn’t been to New York and seen where those sweat shops are set up.

http://www.heartsandminds.org/articles/sweat.htm

I guess he is upset because children are involved but you know, injustice happens to people who are older than a child and we need to be just as concerned about them as we are about the injustices against the children. He is also being unrealistic.  Sin is going to be a part of all areas of raw materials and manufacturing, should we give up everything because sin was involved in the process? We do not live in a perfect world thus his line of reasoning is just out there and unintelligent, irrational, illogical and unwise.

Sure we need to help those children out BUT we also need to help the parents out so that they do not have to send or sell their children to work under such conditions. The outrage should be as loud for the adults as it is for the children but adults do not get that emotional lift children do. It is a sad fact.

Please– take a moment and look through their list of chocolate grades; you’ll be shocked at which of your favorite candy bars are still produced with child slave labor

and he would be shocked at how much sin goes into every product he buys for himself or his family. Boycotts do not bring people to repentance nor do overly emotional pleas what stops this travesty are church people being biblical towards those who do evil. We do as God instructed and when the operators of such businesses repent then the problem is solved.  Hopefully they will do a Zachias and make amends to those they abused and hurt but that is between them and God.

Christians do what God wants, so enjoy your chocolate, allow your kids to enjoy their candy and teach them the right thing to do. We win by obeying God.

#5. Peter Enns Can’t Handle Criticismhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/10/12-ways-some-evangelical-leaders-avoid-dealing-with-real-problems-in-the-bible-a-response-of-sorts-to-christianity-today/

But after reading the recent review of The Bible Tells Me So in Christianity Today by Andrew Wilson (a doctoral student in New Testament and sometime contributor to Christianity Today), I am compelled to offer a response—of sorts.

Criticism is hard to take and I have had my fair share of it BUT you do not go out and write a lengthy rebuttal in your defense. Especially when your defense is as full of errors as your original work.

I spend 41 pages in The Bible Tells Me So discussing God’s command to exterminate the Canaanites, and I have yet to hear a compelling defense for how that portrait of God—which includes enslaving women and children as spoils of war—fits like a glove with the God Jesus reveals to us, as if there is no theological discontinuity from the Old Covenant to the New.

Why does God have to defend his decisions to Peter Enns? Isn’t it enough that God is allowed to punish his creation for their sins and chooses what ever method he wants to accomplish that discipline? Isn’t it enough that we need to learn from the mistakes of others and keep ourselves from repeating those sins? Why does God have to say more than that?

What troubles me here not a little is that Wilson is a NT doctoral student, which might lend credibility to this claim in the eyes of some readers

Sounds like petty jealousy to me. I guess Enns feels he is so superior to others that for them to criticize they must have more graduate degrees than him to see his mistakes and heresy. People are not dumb or stupid. If they are properly versed in the Bible and have the HS teaching them then they do not need a doctoral degree to point out bad thinking. They have God helping them and he knows more than Enns does.

We simply cannot continue denying, avoiding, and spinning our way out of facing these issues that everyone else seems to see plainly enough if we want to keep our integrity, keep our young people, become more spiritually healthy, and, as I see it, align with God’s intentions.

Here is the thing for Enns and people like him. If you have to accuse God of crimes he did not commit then it is you who have the problem not God. God does not have to justify himself to humans, nor is he subject to human ideas of morality or right and wrong. It is the human who is subject to God’s standards of morality, and right and wrong. They have to give an account to him not vice versa. Somehow Enns has it backwards. He should be learning what not to do and adjusting his life accordingly, instead of trying to stand in judgment of God.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in academics, archaeology, Bible, church, controversial issues, faith, family, General Life, history, Justice, leadership, politics

 

Slavery & The Christian

I do not pretend to be an expert on all the slavery issues facing Christians today but at least this post will be a place to start as one researches the issue. A good book that talks about slavery in one of its chapters is the one titled, The Politically Incorrect Guide To the Bible, and the author handles the problem quite well. Here is a link to it

http://www.regnery.com/books/the-politically-incorrect-guide-to-the-bible/

Ms. Evans has written on the topic, mostly from her experiences as a child and it is not the intent to attack her childhood experiences but simply look at her misguided thinking. In reading her words though, I get the impression that she is trying to take a mole-hill and make it into a mountain.

#1. In short, I didn’t learn about America’s history of oppression from the Church. I learned it from Huck Finn

We must ask, why would she expect to learn history at church? So people have such great unrealistic expectations of the church that a pastor would go insane trying to meet them all. The church doesn’t focus a lot on history simply because it is their job to instruct contemporary people how to live God’s way and to follow Christ’s example. Now that objective could be accomplished by using snippets of history to illustrate how that is done but there are so many other more modern examples a pastor could use that people could relate to in order to illustrate the same point.

My response here may be seen as weak but what can you say? The pastor is to follow God in his sermon construction and if God does not lead him to use history then the pastor is not going to use that example. It is unrealistic to think that every person in the pew is going to get all knowledge about all subjects from the church. Churches are not perfect and there is a vast amount of information to choose from to use in such a limited amount of time. The church isn’t wrong for not speaking about ‘America’s history of oppression’ when there are very pertinent and good examples of it taking place in our contemporary times. Oppression takes on many forms.

#2. While comparing the suffering of slaves and people of color to the marginalization of LGBT people is irresponsible and does a disservice to both, I am often surprised by Christians’ complete lack of interest in exploring exactly why their predecessors might have supported oppression in the past

Why is she surprised? There is a lack of interest because nothing can be done about it. You can’t change the past. You can learn from it and learn what not to do in your own lives and make the appropriate changes there but nothing can be done about what is long gone. Present day people can’t even apologize for the behavior of others because they usually had nothing to do with the sinful acts and children are not to be punished for their fathers sins

Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.(Deut. 24;16 NASB)

Too often we have present-day innocent people making amends or being punished for crimes committed long before they were born and that is not right. You need to be biblical when dealing with the past in the present. Punishing innocent people is not the smart thing to do. One wonders why Ms. Evans would want modern-day people digging up old sins that may have already been dealt with? What would be accomplished by this act?  I believe there is a bible verse talking about not worrying about the past but I cannot find it right now. So what is her objective in this quest? It doesn’t sound biblical but it does sound personal.

#3. The fact is, most of the defenses of American slavery were written by clergy who quoted Scripture generously and appealed to a “clear, plain, and common-sense reading” of biblical passages like Genesis 17:2, Deuteronomy 20:10-11, 1 Corinthians 7:21, Ephesians 6:1-5, Colossians 3:18-25; 4:1, and I Timothy 6:1-2.

So? Doesn’t Ms. Evans know that the different pulpits have been filled and are filled by very imperfect people? Clergy can be misguided or defend the wrong actions, Westboro church comes to mind, just like anyone else. Clergy can also preach their personal beliefs from the pulpit as well. That is something that is done in the modern era, politics anyone, also. Just because the clergy defended American slavery doesn’t mean that God and Bible supported or encouraged that form of owning humans. Too often people confuse personal views with divine ones and then blame God and the Bible for something they did not teach or command.

Let’s just take one example from that list of passages she uses to condemn people long dead. 1 Tim. 6 says

All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be [a]spoken against (v. 1 NASB)

There is nothing in those words encouraging people to own slaves or defending slave owners. It simply is telling those bound to others how to treat their masters which is consistent with the rest of the teaching of the Bible. Ms. Evans and others like her seem to put on blinders when they read the words ‘slave’ or ‘slavery’ then do the exact same thing they accuse those clergy of doing– using the Bible to defend their point of view. They are not looking for the truth but something that justifies their opposition to certain biblical passages.

#4. While blatant hate and racism certainly motivated plenty of our country’s past oppressors, blatant hate and racism aren’t nearly as effective at sustaining oppressive systems as uncritical acceptance of the way things are.

Hate and racism are sins and there is no passage in scripture gives permission to anyone to sin.  In the issue of slavery, the Bible is directing those who owned slaves and those who were slaves to NOT SIN in their treatment and interactions with each other. Rape, beatings, torture and other sinful acts were strictly forbidden by God for they were acts of sin.To tell you the truth, even though American slavery was in our recent past, we still do not know everything that went on so her statement is a bit misguided and misinformed; as well as being a little too generalized.

Yet we must ask ‘why is she so hot and bothered by a part of an industry we can not do anything about anymore, when that same industry is still active today in other fields of endeavor?’ She seems to be looking for problems with the Bible while remaining silent on those modern forms of slavery still practiced today and which can be dealt with properly. Why isn’t she doing something about the modern sweat shops or the sex trade since she is so upset about slavery? Why isn’t she being biblical about those modern-day problems and rescuing those enslaved people? Why does she need to use the past to attack the Bible and long dead people?

#5. What were they thinking? How did they justify their actions? What convinced them that they were doing right?

What were they thinking? The same thing she is thinking when she decided to dismiss and disobey much of scripture then uses the other remaining passages to justify her support of sin. How did they justify their actions? The same way she justified her actions for her year of biblical womanhood experiment. What convinced them they were right? They thought they were correct; they were taught to be that way by their parents, etc.,; they were deceived. The very same reasons she uses to think she is right on her stance to support and accept sin.

These are not hard questions to answer. We just need to be honest with ourselves and realize the reasons used 200 years ago or so are the same reasons still used today. Ms. Evans fails to acknowledge evil’s role in all of this and puts the 100% of the blame towards the some of the participants and sometimes not the correct ones at that.

#6.  I have no doubt in my mind that if my own assumptions and prejudices go totally unchecked, if I never stop for a moment to consider the other side and wonder if I might be wrong, I too am capable of using the Bible to my own ends, of convincing myself that God is on my side.

Uhm…someone please inform her, since I am banned from her site, that she already does this. her discussion on homosexuality with Michael Vines is evidence of that fact.

#7. Because the degree to which we take sin seriously isn’t so much in how good were are at spotting it in others, but rather in how good were are at spotting it in ourselves

She seems to only take some sins seriously then promotes her ‘accepted sins’ to spiritual status. She is not very good at spotting it in herself as she continues to support homosexuals, same-sex marriage and calls those and other sins good.

We can study the past, learn from it but we cannot worry about it anymore. We just follow the HS to the truth and do things God’s ways, making sure not to repeat the sins of the past.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in academics, Bible, church, faith, family, history, leadership, theology

 

Heresy- 3

After skipping ahead many pages this post will continue to look at Dr. Alister McGrath’s book heresy. Again, I am just looking at the content of the quotes and am not applying their intent to Dr. McGrath’s actual position on the subject.

#1. …there are no real grounds for supposing  that heresy was the outcome of malevolent and arrogant apostates plotting to destroy  Christianity by reckless, eccentric biblical interpretation and driven by a paganized agenda. (pg. 175)

I am beginning to think that Dr. McGrath has no idea where heresy actually originates because he seems to miss the boat on this point each time he brings it up. heresy comes from unbelief and when unbelief enters the Christian’s or unbelievers’ life then evil has a chance to lead that person to alternatives that are called heresy. There is a paganized agenda behind it all and that agenda comes from evil not the humans. The humans are merely the duped tool in this issue.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12 NASB)

People who adopt heretical positions are deceived. Now some people may be coming out of deception and still hold heretical views which is why we are to have wisdom and understanding. Believers need to see the difference between adopting heretical views and being freed from them. We need to know for sure where the person is at before taking further action.

#2. The historical evidence…suggests that we should think of heresies as the outcomes of journeys of exploration that were originally intended to enable Christianity to relate better to contemporary culture. (pg. 176)

So Dr. McGrath is saying that it is okay to play with fire and get burnt by it.  He seems to be laying the ground work with these words  for saying that alternative thinking holders are still Christian even though they do not believe the Bible. The historical record would be very incomplete and it would be unwise to judge from what is extant what the actual intent of ancient heretics were. He seems to be excusing disobedience to God because the purpose of their efforts was for the good of the faith. That is like saying adopting evolution, even though it is a lie, is being done for the good of the faith and not wrong.

#3. One of the most interesting outcomes of the cognitive science of religion concerns the naturalness of certain beliefs. (pg. 177)

Right, let’s have everything in life stemming from a ‘natural’ source so we do not have to deal with spiritual warfare and see the real source of the problem. This aspect of this type of thinking simply removes the divine from religion, evil from heresy and giving people another excuse to ignore the Bible and make it a human work which can be ignored or changed at will. This type of thinking helps people pass the responsibilities of one’s decisions and beliefs to another source and provides a ‘guilt-free’ existence for them.

The late comedian, Flip Wilson made this thinking quite popular or funny with his ‘the devil made me do it’ routine. In other words Dr. McGrath and others like him are trying to tell God that they had no say in their actions or decisions to believe what they believed. They think they should be allowed into heaven regardless of how they lived because their lives and beliefs were not their fault.

#4. When subject to careful controls and limits, it could establish an important bridge between Christianity and other groups. (pg. 178)

In other words, we are to disobey God and establish friendship with the secular world even though that friendship puts us at odds with God himself. Christianity is not here to build bridges to other groups and accept their way of thinking. It exists, not only to bring men to salvation, but to shed light upon a dark world. We are not to embrace that darkness but seek to get rid of it. We do not accept or condone false teaching we are to dismiss it and keep it from the church.

#5. certain aspects of the Christian faith, they argue, are an apologetic liability. (pg. 181)

Of course they are. That is because those people do not want to believe those parts of the Bible. They also forget Paul’s words

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18 NASB)

So of course there are going to be parts of the Bible seen as a liability but we do not change those parts to make them look nicer or say something God did not say. We do not lie to anyone.

#6. From its earliest period, Christianity found itself immersed in a complex religious situation

Not really. There really wasn’t anything more complex about the ancient world than any other time in history. The same biblical principle ‘men love darkness rather than light’  applied back then, to Noah’s day to our day. The world hasn’t changed that much over the years. There is and always has been a choice to make and depending upon a person’s choice Christianity was viewed in that light. But the real truth of their different views is wrapped up in that simple verse. heresies came into existence because too many people chose darkness over the truth.

#7. Its strongly evangelistic impulse impelled Christianity to build bridges to such communities– for example, by restating some core Christian ideas in terms already familiar to them. (pg. 189)

We are allowed to change methodologies as long as we do not change the words of God. The Missionary Don Richardson wrote a book called the Peace Child

In 1962, Don and Carol Richardson risked their lives to share the gospel with the Sawi people of New Guinea. Peace Child told their unforgettable story of living among these headhunting cannibals who valued treachery through  fattening victims with friendship before the slaughter. God gave Don and Carol the key to the Sawi hearts via a redemptive analogy from their own mythology.  The peace child became the secret to unlocking a value system that existed through generations over centuries, possibly millenniums, of time. (http://www.amazon.com/Peace-Child-Unforgettable-Primitive-Treachery/dp/0830737847)

telling how God led them to the key to reaching the hearts of those cannibals. Yet, God’s word was NOT changed with this adaption, alternatives were not adopted and promoted as God’s word and so on. God lead them to a relevant pagan practice that opened the door and allowed Jesus and his message to be understood by these primitive people. heresies do not do this. Alternative beliefs do not do this. These two sinful practices try to change God’s word, try to change Jesus and his message. That is what makes them wrong. They also do not work with God but are purely a human origin with supernatural evil’s help.

Yes we can alter our presentation to allow people to understand what God is telling them BUT we do NOT change the Bible in the process or adopt sinful ideologies to make Christianity more attractive.

#8. An obvious example of a heresy that regarded Christian orthodoxy as morally careless and slipshod is Pelagianism. The origins of this movement…lay in Pelagius’s shock at the moral degeneracy that he found in the Roman church…(pg.191)

Because members of Christianity do not follow all the rules of the faith, those decisions do not make Christianity wrong or at fault. it simply means that some people choose to disobey, some are tempted and unable to defeat temptation, or others do not see their actions as wrong or agree with biblical teaching. The Bible isn’t wrong, it is the choices people make that are either correct or not yet people find it easier to blame God, the bible or the faith than themselves. They have also found it is easier to demand that others repent than to repent of their own sins.

Heresies are started for the wrong reasons and they usually put man at the center not God. They also try to change God’s rules, replacing them with their own easier ones. Even though Dr. McGrath’s book has provided a lot of material to discuss I am disappointed that he took such a soft line with heresy and is leading most of his readers to sin instead of away from it. The reason these alternatives are called heresy is because those ideologies are not from God. The reasons false teaching and alternative beliefs are labeled as such is because they are not from God but from evil.

We need to be careful and on our guard when dealing with those of alternative ideas because they can be very subtle, attractive even look like it is from God but in reality, they are diabolically deceptive and destructive.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in academics, Bible, church, faith, leadership, theology

 

Much To Talk About- 75

I had planned to do a third post today because I needed to catch up from missing on Monday and there is a column that is important to draw people’s attention to.

#1. He Gets Ithttp://www.christianpost.com/news/i-love-jesus-too-much-to-call-myself-a-gay-christian-128719/

There’s a new kind of Gay Christian. Most of us are aware of the Justin Lees and the Matthew Vines, but, unlike those guys and like myself, these new Gay Christians hold fast to the truth of Scripture regarding the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. They aren’t out there practicing homosexual behavior. They aren’t engaging in dating relationships with people of the same gender or seeking to do so. Celibacy is the path that they have chosen in light of their current sexual inclinations and their simultaneous, and stronger, desire to submit themselves to the Lordship of Christ.

These people are most definitely my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would hesitate to make such a claim about Matthew Vines or Justin Lee, but these folks– like Julie Rodgers or Matt Jones or Wesley Hill — I am confident I will stand with side by side in the age to come as we rejoice forever in the life Christ has purchased for us with His own life. But I strongly disagree with their chosen terminologies used to describe who they are.

You need to read the whole article as his reasoning supports what I have been saying for a couple of weeks now. You cannot identify as a homosexual or gay person if you claim to be a Christian. It just sends the wrong message to the unchurched world and insults Christ at the same time.

#2. What About What is Right/Wrong?http://www.christianpost.com/news/megachurch-pastors-divided-over-texas-voter-id-law-t-d-jakes-calls-it-needless-pastor-robert-jeffress-says-i-disagree-128823/

Two of Texas’s most popular megachurch pastors, T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House and Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church, Dallas, reflected dueling positions on the state’s controversial voter identification law. Jakes dismissed it as “needless” while Jeffress argued that the law is necessary ahead of Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

The Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 14 (SB 14) into law in 2011 in a bid to curb voter fraud. It requires voters seeking to cast their ballots in person to present photo identification, such as a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport according to votetexas.gov. The law is described as one of the strictest voter identification laws in the country.

In my humble opinion I think the church should stay out of political issues and focus on proclaiming what is really sin in God’s eyes. These pastors seem to be too busy staking out a political position than presenting what is right or wrong in God’s eyes. Do I agree with voter i.d. laws? To tell the truth, I do not care. I see the point from both sides and feel it doesn’t really matter anymore.

The church should be telling the people to be honest when they vote and go voting and then tell the political people in charge of the voting booths and process to be fair, merciful and compassionate. There will be legitimate cases where people will not have picture i.d. and they should not be robbed of their right to vote simply because they do not have photo i.d. Then on the other hand, the church could help those who lack such identification instead of waxing eloquent on following the law but do nothing to help anyone to follow that guidance.

Instead the hard-line or one side over the other, the church should be looking for God’s solutions that plant seeds, water those already planted and hopefully reap the harvest after the work is done.

#3. I Can Agreehttp://www.christianpost.com/news/churches-should-shift-priorities-from-defending-to-re-teaching-marriage-say-erlc-conference-panelists-128780/

Those who are married have no concept of the social and personal responsibilities that come with the union, he said. Wax noted that among older generations, marriage was “oriented towards procreation” as well as family stability and the common good. Newer generations, he believes, have moved away from that notion and are more private.

As long as they do not include alternatives to biblical marriage.  I am all for teaching the realities of marriage but we still need to defend it against those who do not want to follow the rules and want to seek their own ways instead.  I will also agree that many heterosexual couples, both inside and outside the church, have not made a strong case for biblical marriage.

Many have let their own lusts be their guide instead of making a very serious and responsible decision. Others have let their careers dictate how their marriage will go and it is a travesty. Some people are just selfish and everyone else suffers for that selfishness. We do need to teach that right and wrong applies to marriage vows and unions.

We probably need to just get back to the basics and simply preach what God intended for heterosexual unions and distance ourselves from the secular cultural reasons for both marriage and divorce.

Whatever the reason, the church and the believer need to take the lead in this issue and show the world the correct way to live. If they are public figures then Christian couples should take extra measures to ensure a long and happy union. God gets mocked when Christians follow the world.

#4. He Said That?– http://www.christianpost.com/news/gungor-calls-for-christian-unity-after-being-branded-twofold-son-of-hell-for-criticizing-literal-interpretation-of-bible-128556/

Alternative rock musician and Dove Award winning Christian Michael Gungor of the musical collective, Gungor, is now calling for unity in Christendom months after being branded a heretic and other names like “twofold son of hell” for challenging the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible.

He caused this division and now he wants unity?  Won’t happen because he has decided to go after alternatives not God’s word. We need to ask, who is going to do the compromising? The true believer or him? Since his view is not compatible with the Bible then it must be him but one thing is for sure, he needs to be rebuked for his failure to stay with God and for his attempts to lead people away from God with his decision to reject the truth.

He also needs to be told that there can be no Christian unity because true believers cannot support or accept false ideas and sin.

“… I do not have a problem with Christians disagreeing with me about how I read Genesis. I don’t even have a problem with them getting angry and passionate about their opinion. The real problem begins when we start throwing around words that are intended to break unity, loaded words like ‘apostate,’ ‘heretic,’ ‘false teacher,’ and so on,” he said.

So he is upset because he is in denial about who he really is? The truth hurts but he has a chance to repent of his ways and the church should be speaking the truth to him in love not anger or hatred. We do need to be biblical about this and not sin in response to his declaration to support and practice sin. We will not bring anyone to repentance if we lash out at everyone who disagrees with us and God. There is a better biblical way to deal with people like Gungor and his wife.

#5. Stay Away From Technicalitieshttp://www.christianpost.com/news/united-methodist-churchs-highest-court-upholds-refrocking-of-pastor-who-officiated-sons-gay-wedding-128690/

The United Methodist Church’s highest court has decided to overturn the defrocking of a Pennsylvania pastor who officiated his son’s same-sex wedding.

The United Methodist Judicial Council has ruled that Frank Schaefer, formerly pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, Lebanon, could have his clergy credentials reinstated.

If you are going to get rid of a pastor or clergy  do it for the right reasons. That way those who fight against you will have to fight God and the Bible as well. I disagree with the appeals court decisions because he was told in the initial judgment to stop doing his sin and he refused to do so. The defrocking was not punishment for the first act of sin but for the second.

Just so you know, love does not encourage people to continue in their sin nor does it support such behavior. Love warns of impending punishment if the practice continues. That method is not judging someone else but caring about their well-being.  It is not love to tell any sinner that it is okay to remain in sin. Love provides sound advice and wise words it does not rubber stamp someone’s selfish, sinful decisions.

The church, if it is serious about being for God, should not let this pastor continue to minister to them but have him removed as soon as possible. The spiritual health of the church demands that action. God did not call people to be stewards of his people just so they can lead his people to sin. He called them to lead the people away from sin and bad decisions.

#6. This May Be A Victoryhttp://www.christianpost.com/news/mayor-annise-parker-drops-subpoenas-against-houston-pastors-128816/

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced that she will withdraw the subpoenas against five pastors who have spoken out against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, an LGBT city ordinance that some opponents claim would allow men to use women’s public restrooms

I won’t count my chickens just yet. Her actions seemed to point to retaliation against those who dared to defy her and oppose her ordinance but at least for now, she has withdrawn her counter-attack.

I am not in favor of such ordinances because the rights of many are the ones which usually get trounced and stomped on in the rush to make things ‘equal’.  Equality does not mean we get the same pay, the same jobs, the same access to bathrooms; it just means that each person i snot superior to the another no matter what pay they receive, what job they do and which bathroom they can access.

The secular world screws up definitions to confuse others in order to get their evil agenda okayed. The transgendered people are not suffering because they have to use the bathroom assigned to their birth gender so these laws are needless and ony cause further division. This mayor, political activists and politicians should really take a trip to North Korea to see what real violations to human rights look like. It isn’t pretty.

In comparison, the transgenders have it very easy. They are not being denied access to restrooms nor are they being shipped off to prison camps to be tortured, among other diabolical activities, they are just being told ‘no’. That is not a human rights violation. Western people really need to learn what real human and civil rights violations are before they start demanding special treatment.

That demand for special treatment is not furthering the cause of equality.

#7. Dolly Parton Needs To Learn What Love And Acceptance Really Means http://www.christianpost.com/news/dolly-parton-loves-and-accepts-lgbt-fans-at-dollywood-urges-christians-not-to-be-judgmental-128750/

Country music icon Dolly Parton recently gave an interview in which she explained that she “loved and accepted” her lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender fans and urged fellow Christians not to judge anyone.

Parton was asked how she felt about the iconic Dollywood being a place that attracts all types of fans from church groups, to gays and lesbians. She reacted with a message for Christians.

She really doesn’t know what she is talking about nor does she know Christian teaching if that is her real position on this issue. She also doesn’t know what the word ‘judge’ means or how it is applied to this issue. Saying something is wrong is not judging but informing the participants that they are breaking God’s or the government’s laws.

There is nothing wrong with informing people of their spiritual status. Nor is their anything wrong with warning people of their upcoming destruction.

“I grew up in a very religious background,” the Grammy-award winning songstress told Larry King in 2003. “I trust God, I love God, and I love the thoughts of it

I wish public figures would stop saying things like this. If they loved God they would not be supporting sin.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in academics, Bible, church, creation, faith, family, General Life, homosexuality, leadership, politics, theology

 

Rebutting 5 Reasons

The five reasons are found at

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/5-reasons-why-i-wont-give-up-on-the-church/

yet more than those 5 reasons will be addressed in this post. It is sad to see alternative believers (or as they should be called false teachers) make such statements because basically, they have already given up on the church and are simply fighting to get their false ideas into Christianity.

#1. where we discussed all things having to do with the future of Christianity now that the era (error) of Christendom is over

Really? That is news to me and a host of other believers. I wonder who died and left them in charge of christianity? That may sound a bit over the top but I kind of get upset when someone outside of the faith think they get to make decisions for the church and christianity. The era of Christendom will be over when the world ends and the final judgment takes place. Until that time these people will continue to try to deceive the faithful in hopes of turning them away from the true faith into their alternative false beliefs.

#2. When I survey the current and historical Christian landscape, it strikes me that the era of Christendom has seriously damaged the church, perverted the faith, and locked Jesus in a supply closet in the church basement

Accusing true believers of what false teachers are actually doing is not the way to win friends and influence people. The only people who are ‘damaging the church, perverting the faith and locked Jesus in a closet’ are those alternative believers who cannot accept the truth  and keep trying to change the church and the faith, making it after their own image instead of God’s. They cannot represent God or Jesus honestly, so they say the church is wrong, as well as the Bible, and that we are losing souls because the church won’t change it stance on right and wrong, sin and obedience, truth and error.

It is a good thing that the church answers to God not these fakes.

#3. As a result, many have simply given up on “The Church” (or are standing at the door). I’ve been there too, but simply cannot walk out completely.

People give up on the church for a variety of reasons, many do so because the church refuses to adopt their alternative ideas. Others do so because they cannot accept the truth but giving up on the church only causes the rest of us to be sad. We do not celebrate the loss of a believer to evil BUT we cannot change simply because some people want us to. We change because God directs us to the right way to practice the faith. That guidance does not necessarily come from those who are discontented or simply want to be more modern.

But then that attitude expressed in the quote is simply the attitude of throwing out the baby with the bath water. Why can’t these people simply find another congregation to worship with, one more to their liking, instead of throwing these temper tantrums and whining about how bad the church is. The same attitude is seen here in this country among Western native teachers. They whine and complain about all things Korean but when you suggest they go somewhere else, they refuse. They want the money or they want to remake English teaching after their ideas but they do not want to pay the costs involved with change.

#4. Now, there’s plenty of the old era worthy of giving up, I’ll agree– and enthusiastically enjoin my voice to a host of others in that regard.

Certainly, “Church” as an institution that colludes with the world power-holders and empires to get their piece of the power pie, is worthy of giving up.

It would be nice if these alternative believing complainers would be more clear in what they mean by the church? Are they discussing the worldwide Christian church or simply the RCC? If they want to be heard or even taken seriously they need to be more specific. They need to stop confusing people and clearly present their views with clear definitions of whom they are talking about. I mean Billy Graham knew world leaders but he never colluded with them. So let’s have the clear and concise details of the subject matter. Not this generalized ‘throw something at the wall and see what sticks’ mentality.

#5. “Church” as an institution that travels in parallel to culture instead of a transforming agent running against culture, is worthy of giving up.

Yet he does what he is complaining about by his acceptance and support of same-sex marriage, friendship with the world and support of unrepentant homosexuals in the church. His complaint is now worthless because he is contradicting his own actions.

#6. Church” as a force of oppression and violence instead of the hands and feet of the Jesus it claims to be named after, is worthy of giving up.

Yet he does this as well when he attacks those who disagree with him on certain issues. he oppresses the rights of the majority when he supports the redefinition of institutions to allow for membership minorities who refuse to follow the rules. He condones their violence by his support of their cause. This point makes no sense because he is including sin into the church which is oppressing God’s right to have a sin-free kingdom.

#7. However, it’s one thing to give up on an individual, local church that won’t conform themselves to Christ-likeness, but then there’s “The Church”, with a capital C. The truth is, “The Church” isn’t a building with a little white steeple and an American flag waiving out front.

Yet he is not being Christ-like so he must include giving up himself as well. Christ didn’t attack the church, the temple or synagogues of his time. He attacked and excluded sin. So if that author is going to be Christ-like then he needs to get in line with God’s definition of sin and right and wrong.

#8.  “The Church” is a term that refers to people, and I won’t give up on people.

But what is he leading them to? That is the main question he needs to answer before making these type of statements? is he trying to lead them to God and his ways or is he trying to lead them to his sinful and disobedient version of the faith? If you have nothing to offer the people then you are not helping them by refusing to give up but actually are destroying the church/people you claim to love.

#9.  I am part of “The Church”, and part of why it is often broken, and I don’t want people giving up on me.

If he was part of the church then he would not be preaching alternatives and calling sin good. The only reason people of the church have given up on him is because he refuses to repent of his sinful ways.  he doesn’t want to follow the rules so once that happens nothing can be done until he changes his mind.Of course, his idea of having people not give up on him is that the people have to change not him and it doesn’t work that way.

#10.  I am unwilling to give up on “The Church’s” mission of spreading the Good News

But he doesn’t have good news to spread around. All he does is say that sin is acceptable to God and anyone is allowed to be in the church even the unrepentant sinner. That is not good news for that message does not offer freedom from sin and it does not offer a sin free paradise. Good news is that Jesus frees us from sin  and that paradise is sin free.

#11. Jesus promised that even the gates of hell would not defeat “The Church”, and I’m not willing to give up on Jesus.

Yet he has given up on Jesus by his teaching of contradictions to what Jesus taught. He doesn’t teach what Jesus said but alters them to fit his own ideas. Jesus taught, if you love me keep my commandments yet lying about who can enter God’s kingdom, what is or isn’t sin and so on is not keeping Christ’s commandments. He has given up on Jesus and now wants Jesus to accept his ideology over Christ’s own.

#12. Giving up on “The Church” presents an alternative reality that I don’t like: a church of one

Yet he is a ‘church of one’ because he brings a different gospel than the one Jesus and the disciples brought. he has given up on the church the moment he strayed and rejected the truth for the alternatives. Being part of the church means one preaches what Jesus preached, that one teaches what Jesus taught and they do not alter the biblical text in favor of alternative ideology. Plus one does not seek his own selfish way but seeks God’s will instead. The Bible tlls us to ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God’ it does not tell us to alter the kingdom because we do not like it or the rules.

#13. My friend Frank Schaeffer once told me that “there’s only one alternative to being part of a church where you have profound disagreements: join a church of one.” And, Frank was right– to give up on the global Church, to even give up on the local church, is to embrace life as a church of one person

The real issue is ‘are these people being honest with themselves about their beliefs?’ is it really God and the church that is at fault or is it their own alternatives that have divided them from the herd? That quot is misleading because there is more than one local congregation available to join in almost any given city. But the reality is, why don’t these people find the source of their disagreements and if that source is not of God, then correct it? Why blame God and the church when they are not the source of the problem?

These people would rather whine, complain and point the finger avoiding their own responsibilities on these matters. They do not want to obey scripture and remove the beams from their eyes first, instead they want to change the church to fit their ideas and who died and made them boss? What about the other people in the church? Do they not get a say in their own congregations but must put their ideas aside and support these whiners?

#14. As the days, months, and years pass, we’ll probably still be talking about what Christianity should, and should not look like in the Post-Christendom era.

There is no such thing as a ‘post-christendom era’. That is just intellectualized gobbledygook.  The same with the ‘post-modern’ and other similar labels.There is only the believers or the unbelievers categories in life. God made the boundary when he said ‘you are either for me or against me’. There are no other categories. people simply need to be saved and then taught how to be Christian. If they do not like it then let them take their ball and go home, the church pleases God not whiners and complainers.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in academics, Bible, church, faith, leadership, theology

 

Heresy- 2

There is a lot going on today but I would like to continue the examination of Dr. Alister McGrath’s book heresy. The trouble of analyzing a book is that there is just too much information to cover so this time I am only going to be dealing with about 5 pages from chapter 6. The rest of the chapter and the next are just Dr. McGrath’s look at ancient heresies and I do not think I need to go over those. Suffice it to say that the reason they are called heresies is because they bring a different gospel than the one Jesus and the apostles brought.

#1. Christianity had its origins in the region of Judea, especially the city of Jerusalem. it initially regarded itself as a continuation and development of Judaism and hence flourished in regions with which Judaism was traditionally associated, supremely Palestine. (pg. 101)

Actually both Christianity and Judaism originated with God. Jesus is called the author and finisher of our faith

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Neb. 12;2 NASB)

Then we see in the OT where God sets apart the people of Israel

Then I will take you for Mypeople, and I will beyour God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians (Ex. 6:7 NASB)

These two facts set apart both Judaism and Christianity from all other religious beliefs. Every other religion had a human founder not a divine one thus we know which belief is true. Yes God used the area of Jerusalem and Judea but then he had to start somewhere. You may think that that is a too simplistic answer but it is the only one that will accurately describe the situation.

#2. as Christianity developed throughout the civilized world  of the late classical period, it encountered ways of thinking that posed challenges to, yet also offered opportunities for, its proclamation of the gospel. (pg. 101)

This is true as it has been throughout history. people will challenge the truth because they do not want to change, they are comfortable in their own false beliefs, and so on. How these challenges were met provide modern believers with support and sources of strength. They see how God answers these challenges and they take heart knowing that they are not following a false belief but one that provides answers for th world.

#3. The result was growing intellectual pressure to identify the most authentic and reliable ways of articulating and explaining the Christian faith. This quest for ‘authenticity’ involved exploring ways of understanding and expressing the gospel, some of which proved to be powerful and resilient. (pg. 101-2)

I do not like the first sentence in that quote because it implies that Jesus and the HS were not part of the development of the believer and their ways of presenting the gospel. Dr. McGrath makes it sound like everything was a human effort and not a divine one where believers followed their own thinking instead of seeking help from God. The second sentence lays the groundwork for calling false teaching Christian or that their source was in the Christian faith. Unfortunately for Dr. McGrath anyone who hears the details of the Christian faith can alter them without having to repent of their sins. Origin does not depend upon membership. Jealousy can spark origin of heresies.

#4. The first five centuries witnessed the crystallization of the notions of orthodoxy and heresy through the process of intellectual exploration. (pg. 102)

No this is very incorrect what he describes as ‘orthodoxy’ we would call truth or true teachings and what he calls ‘intellectual exploration’ we would call being led astray (if we let that exploration do that). The changing one the one word truth to orthodoxy provides enough confusion to distort what was really taking place in the early church. The idea expressed here is that Dr. McGrath and others are literally saying that all heresies and orthodoxy are truth and that it was humans who decided what would be the main belief–not God.

Whether this is Dr. McGrath’s actual position or not remains to be seen but what he is expressing here is that there is no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to religious beliefs. All religions lead to the same God or so this quote is saying. In reality, the first 5 centuries were like the last 15, true believers are defending the true faith against those who want alternatives. The early apologists were not perfect in their defense but they held their own against the members of alternative ideas.

#5. Simply repeating early Christian formulas and ideas was found to be inadequate to meet the church’s need for mature, reliable statements of faith. (pg. 102)

We must ask, what are mature and reliable statements of faith?  Are they ones which taught alternatives or simply put the truth in a different order? To me, a mature and reliable statement of faith is the one that says, ‘I believe God…’ that just about covers the whole Bible and puts one on the correct path to growing in Jesus. Anything else would expose the true feelings of the speaker most of whom would not believe God but take secular ideas over what is contained in the Bible.

The true early church did not simply become robotic and mindless when they worshipped or explained why they believed. They were intelligent people who did follow God’s instruction to be prepared to provide an answer for why they believed. Dr. McGrath in this book seems to be supporting Bart Ehrman’s claims about a religious doctrinal war that supposedly took place and where one group won out and their religious beliefs became our orthodoxy. It is far from the truth and even Dr. Ehrman’s mentor, Dr Metzger didn’t agree with that scenario.

But these claims persist because people do not want the truth, they want their own way.

#6….the evidence suggests that most of those who would later be regarded as heretics undertook these theological quests out of genuine concern to ensure that the Christian faith was represented and articulated in the most authentic and robust forms. (pg. 103)

Now if Dr. McGrath had stopped at the words ‘theological quests’ and changed the remainder of that point I could agree with him. Some people probably did start out honestly trying to find the right belief and wandered into heresy by accident. They were trying to learn why the Christian faith is one way and other teachings were another. It is possible that, like today, they were treated badly by some members of the church so they decided to stay with their alternative thinking.

How these heresies originated really isn’t that important but the why they are false teaching is. I disagree with the conclusion of his point as the motivation of alternative believers is not to be articulate and robust but their unbelief and their desire to find something to fill that void which arrives when the truth is rejected. There is no real concern for the Christian faith and how it looks but that their ideas get to take prominence over what Jesus and the disciples taught. In today’s world, many alternative believers are not trying to make Christianity look good, they are trying to make themselves look good. They want to appear intellectual, up-to-date, scientific and so on or it is the fact that they are trying to cover up their unbelief in certain biblical events by altering the meanings of the biblical text. It has nothing to do with making the Christian faith look good or be more articulate.

#7. This point was first made in 1935 by Herbert Grundmann, who argued that the notion of heresy was here being defined from an inquisitional rather than a theological perspective. heresy was being defined in terms of challenges posed to the political authority of the church rather than in terms of the actual ideas of these movements. (pg. 103)

Even though this is correct it is also misleading as only one church took this position–the Roman Catholic one.  This is the main problem that arose with me as I read these pages. Was Dr. McGrath labeling the early church only Roman Catholic and all heresy was defined as disagreeing with that particular doctrine? If so then Dr. McGrath’s arguments in this book have become moot because the RCC’s doctrines are as heretical as many of those beliefs that church attacked throughout history.

If we are going to have a real and honest discussion on heresy and true belief then we need to put the Bile up against all the doctrines of all the different religions and compare them. We do not use a church’s idea that originated in about the 4th or 5th centuries AD, and declare other beliefs heretical because there is no evidence stating that the RCC’s doctrines are divinely inspired and infallible. It is this dishonesty in discussing this topic that throws any valuable information that could be garnered from this discussion into the suspect pile because the author is not using God as his standard (or his word) but a humanly developed church and its doctrine as his main standard in judging what is orthodox and what is heresy.

We are not comparing the truth with error but error with error and that distorts and ruins the whole discussion.

#8. A purely historical account of the notion of heresy in the Middle Ages is obliged to define orthodoxy in terms of papal teachings and heresy in terms of dissent from such teaching. (pg. 104)

But that would only cloud the issue more because there is no biblical teaching stating that papal teaching was orthodox or even correct. if any historian did as quoted above then they would not be defining real orthodoxy or real heresy. They would simply be passing on the RCC’s point of view. The truth about orthodoxy and heresy would remain buried and distorted. I will grant you that the RCC did use the term heresy to defeat its opponents in both the religious and political arenas but that strategy does not make the RCC’s doctrines correct. It just means that the RCC had more power than its opponents.

If you are going to have any discussion on orthodoxy and heresy then we must go back to before the RCC was formed and look at what the disciples taught then compare the RCC’s doctrines with their words first. Once that is done we can see the heretical teachings in that organization because we are using God’s true teachings to expose the false and deceptive ones used by others later on. If you are going to learn what heresy is, you have to first start with the real truth not something that was created 4 to 5 centuries later.

heresy did not magically appear in the 4th century, it was present back in the 1st century thus any study on the issue has to go back to the beginning to set the right parameters to guide the study. You can’t start in the middle and expect to know the real context of the issue.

#9…the church lawyers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries succeeded in redefining the notion (heresy) in terms of the rejection of ecclesiastical authority, especially papal authority. (pg. 104)

In the Middle Ages, a lot of the RCCs actions was about power and control; it was not about God, Jesus or the truth. So for them to change the meaning of the word heresy worked in their favor as it hid their heretical ideas and practices. So if we really want to know the truth about what is or isn’t heresy then we need a real, unchanging, independent, honest, etc., standard to compare alternative teaching. As you see today, the RCC keeps changing its views on different issues so their teachings do not meet that criteria.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/pope-francis-says-evolution-is-not-inconsistent-with-god-backs-scientific-advancements-128756/

Evolution is not inconsistent with God, said Pope Francis during an unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday.

The RCC has joined heresy and cannot define it. Dr. McGrath has done a grave disservice to his readers by this very imperfect work on heresy by using the wrong standard and failing to clearly define what his standard really is. Too often scholars and academics are too afraid to make the right stand. They refer to muddy the waters to gain approval from their fellow humans instead of seeking approval from God by teaching and stating what is actually true.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in academics, Bible, church, faith, leadership

 
 
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