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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Very Important Information

We do a lot of reading/listening of other people’s work and one of the authors/speakers we enjoy is Dr. Craig Evans. Almost everything he writes is good, informative and explained in a very clear-cut manner so that his message is easy to understand. The article,

How Long Were
Late Antique Books in Use?
Possible Implications for
New Testament Textual Criticism,

we just finished reading and will quote some very important information from shortly is no exception. We do not agree 100% with Dr. Evans but then we do not expect people to agree with us 100% of the time either and we do question things like

Most of the manuscripts were prepared by professional scribes; many of these manuscripts were proofread by the original
scribe and then by a second scribe called a διορθωτής7 It should be noted that these professionally prepared manuscripts are bookrolls, not codices.
We are not sure of the exact role of the scribes and we doubt the illiteracy claims most archaeologists claim was evidence in the ancient periods.There are other things in that article we question but those are for another day. This post is more about providing some important information that Dr. Evans has recorded in that article.
#1. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century nearly a
half million documents were recovered from rubbish heaps on the outskirts
of the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus…, a few kilometers west of the Nile River and about 200 kilometers
southwest of modern Cairo. Only a small portion of this rich trove of
documents, made up mostly of papyri, has been published to date
#2. In recent studies George Houston argues plausibly that the evidence suggests that in each case someone in
antiquity
was clearing texts, old or no longer wanted, out of his library, and had them taken out together and thrown on the dump
Support for the possibility of coherent collections being preserved in dumps comes from the large numbers of similar bodies of documentary materials, in which specific names and dates often prove that the papyri in
the concentration belonged together and came from a single original archive

#3.Many of these manuscripts give evidence of being carefully studied The texts are glossed and corrected and sometimes are accompanied with exegetical notes11 There is evidence that readers compared duplicate texts and engaged in what we today call textual criticism12 Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the discovery of how long these manuscripts were in use before being retired During excavations by Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus, a collection of second and third-century manuscripts was found in a layer of fill that was dated to the fourth and fifth centuries 13A number of other collections or libraries were found suggesting similar longevity of their manuscripts In some cases, datedcorrespondence added support to the evidence of stratigraphy

#4.Houston finds that literary manuscripts were in use anywhere from 75 to 500 years, with the average of about 150 years14 Almost all of these libraries and collections were multigenerational, being handed down todescendants or in some cases purchased in their entirety by a new family or collector

#5.The chronology and history of usage of archival documents, as op  posed to libraries and book collections of literary works, are usually not too difficult to determine This is because business and legal papers—the typical contents of archives—are almost always dated

#6.In most cases, the longevity of archival documents is not great This is especially so in reference to business and legal papers The papers found in the archives of Phanesis, Zenon, and Babatha date over periods of 10(or 11), 31 (or 32), and 38 (or 39) years, respectively The family archives of Patron and Philosarapis exhibit much greater longevity We may speculate that business and legal archives were in active use for shorter periods oftime simply because contracts expired and legal matters were concluded, either in court or in death

#7.Besides the evidence offered by the remains of ancient libraries and book collections, we actually have a few references in the ancient literature itself that directly bear on the question of the longevity of papyrus manuscripts First-century Pliny the Elder (died in A D79) claims to have seen autographs of some of the Gracchi letters, which in his time would havebeen about 200 years old (Nat. Hist. 13 83) Late second-century Galen tells us that “some also had desired to find very old volumes, written three hundred years ago,

#8. The same holds in the case of a number of Christian Bibles Fourth-century Codex Vaticanus was reinked in the 10th century, which shows that it was still being read and studied some 600 years after it had been produced 19 Indeed, in the case of Vaticanus, missing leaves were added in the 15th century Correctors worked on Sinaiticus as late as the 7th century 20

The great codex remained in use for many centuries more, as witnessed by the annotations of a monk named Dionysius in the 12th century

#9. If manuscripts were in use for two or three centuries before their destruction or retirement, we must entertain the possibility, perhaps even probability, that the autographs and first copies of first-century NT writings continued to circulate, to be studied, and to be copied throughout the second century and, in some cases, even on into the third century

This means that the original copy of the Gospel of Matthew—let us suppose written and first circulated in A D 75—may actually have remained in use until the time of the production of픓45, approximately 150 years later

#10 I can hardly fault Holmes for deciding against autograph The idea that autographs of as many as six of Paul’s letters survived some 130 to 140 years would have struck Holmes and other scholars in the late 19th century as most improbable, if not altogether impossible But the papyri, which at the time Holmes was translating Tertullian, were only beginning to be recovered from the dry sands of Egypt

31 Study of these many thousands of documents, including the remarkable discoveries of dozens of book collections and libraries, has forced scholars to reconsider the longevity of literary manuscripts that circulated in late antiquity
It turns out, as we have seen, that books in late antiquity often did remain in use, being read, copied, and studied for 100 years or more Some of the autographs of Paul’s letters could have survived to the end of the second century, as Tertullian asserted

#11 There is yet another testimony in which a NT autograph is mentioned In a Paschal treatise, of which only fragments are extant, Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (died in A D 311), is remembered to have said the following:

Now it was the preparation [cf John 19:14, 31], about the third hour [cf Mark 15:25], as the accurate books have it, and the autograph
copy itself of the evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful (frag5 2) 34
At the time Bishop Peter wrote (circa A D 300?), the autograph of the Gospel of John would have been about 200 years old Given the longevity of literary manuscripts, the Bishop of Alexandria could well have
been correct
#12 It seems to me that recognition of the probable survival of several NT autographs on into the second and, in some cases, into the third century should throw the text-critical question into a new light The supposition that some scholars entertain, that the transmission of the text of the Gospels and other NT writings in the first two centuries or so was without any controls, is highly improbable

#13 Autographs and first copies may well have remained in circulation until the end of the second century, even the beginning of the third century The evidence also suggests that late second and early to mid-third century manuscripts, such as 픓45,픓46,픓66, and픓75

may well have remained in circulation until the fourth century, when the great codices such as Vaticanus
and Sinaiticus were being produced If so, the implications for textual criticism are significant

#14 The sample is admittedly small, but the evidence so far as it goes seems to show significant instability in the Gnostic manuscripts—in marked contrast to the NT manuscripts, whose text is considerably more stable Why is this? The NT manuscripts were probably more numerous and—unlike the secretive and private Gnostic writings—were read in public Public reading may well have created something like a “standardized” text42 and undoubtedly facilitated memorization, which would also have a stabilizing

affect on the text 43 Perhaps also, the NT writings were taken more seriously by their readers and copyists, with the Gnostic writings—probably read and studied in private—seen more or less as “interpretations” of the dominical and apostolic traditions
#15 Given the evidence that we have and taking into consideration the probability that the autographs and first copies circulated and were in use for one century or longer, there really is no justification for supposing that the text of the NT writings underwent major changes in the first and second centuries
We hope you take the time to read the whole article but what Dr. Evans is saying is that the original autographs, the ones most scholars like Bart Ehrman say we do not have anymore, lasted far beyond what we thought and may have been preserved into the 4th century AD. If this is so that may change many people’s perspective on the Bible.
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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in academics, archaeology, Bible, church, education, faith, history, leadership, theology

 

We Do Not Need Empowered Women

First we are writing today because we were given a surprise internet session and two, what we have read has compelled us to say something. We were not going to say much about the election but in thinking about what was said at the DNC we could not remain silent.The main motivator was not Mrs. Clinton’s idea that the people should pay for the abortions of others. Though that is revolting enough.it is not why we are writing this

http://christiannews.net/2016/07/30/kaine-willing-to-support-clinton-on-public-abortion-funding-although-personally-opposed/

“No funds authorized or appropriated by federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law, shall be expended for any abortion,” the 1976 law reads.

What has prompted our outrage is found in the following article

http://christiannews.net/2016/07/28/activist-proclaims-her-abortion-at-dnc-abortion-gives-women-power-over-own-destiny/

and these words

If we want families to succeed, we start by empowering women.

This is not biblical teaching and what has made us angry is that some woman has decided that she wants to play God and wants to lead women to do the same thing. We do not need empowered women. Those women ignore God’s teaching, willfully sin and disobey God’s instructions and such women are not building a strong family but destroying one.

We do not need wives and mothers kept imprisoned in sin and encouraged to be sinners.We do not need the hand that rocks the cradle to be thinking that it gets to decide who lives or dies before the child is born.That is not a choice granted to women by God. These type of women are destructive to their husbands, their children and to society in general. Their support of evil and calling it good places then in the path to face the wrath of God. And no husband or son, if they are decent people wants their mothers or wives to be placed in such a position.

Men you have to do something biblical about this and combat this rising tide of disobedience in women. You cannot take a pass and say that it is the woman’s body. It is no longer her body when she has mated with a man and the body she is disposing of is not hers to destroy. The woman was never given authority over reproduction in deciding who can or cannot be born. You need to stand up and be men instead of rolling over and appeasing the woman. You need to lead them to the right way to think, you need to lead them away from the path of destruction and to the path of life.

While abortion is not the unforgivable sin,it is not an action approved of God and we know how God hates the destruction of innocent people no matter their age or stage in life. Men have to get a backbone here and wisely say ‘no’ to women and their desire to sin.

Does blocking this desire force women into inferior and subservient roles in life? Of course not for God has already empowered women to levels they cannot imagine but he empowers them with the tools to be holy not sinful, arrogant, and masters of their own destinies.

“It’s not abortion that’s bothering them. It’s empowering women to live our own lives,” she asserted. “And when we have power over our own destiny, we honor our most cherished traditions of charity and equality. These aren’t just women’s issues. These are the very foundation of our freedom

If a woman wants to be a master of her own destiny then she needs to live a life that is approved by God and men need to help them get there. To be ’empowered’ women need to understand that there are so many ways where they can influence the world around them and make wise decisions influenced by Jesus and avoid destructive and foolish decisions influenced by fallible, sinful, disobedient women.

How are women empowered by God? God has given them many of the same tools he has given men to be spiritually correct in their lives. he has given them intelligence to make wise decisions, he has given them the ability and desire to learn correctly, he has given them the right to choose how they will live and that choice empowers women. if they do not want to sin, they have the right to say no and that right to say no helps them avoid unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

God has granted them the ability to be prayer warriors, like Anna in the temple who served God by praying all the time. She did more to influence the world than any one advocating abortion on demand. We have a reader who suffers from MS and cannot live a life like other women can but she can still live a full spiritual life and serve God, even if it is being like Anna, through praying for others. She is not inferior spiritually, but can still make a spiritual difference. Ana was empowered but she was empowered by God to do what God wants not what evil desires.

And men you can encourage such women teaching them how to pray correctly, instructing them spiritually so that they can defend themselves when evil attacks. We need spiritually correct empowered women not evil inspired empowered ladies. We need women like Ruth, Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, and others who found favor with God not because they were wrongfully empowered and sought to break the spiritual glass ceiling but because they had the right biblical attitudes and did not disobey God’s instructions.

Those are the women we need. Not those who get praise because they decided to kill a life because they were not ready to have a family. We need women who can make wise decisions and take responsibility for their actions, not those who blame politicians because they cannot say no to sex or take precautions. We need women who can direct their children to God’s path, teaching them God’s ways as God instructed in Deut. 4 not those ladies who destroy a nation by teaching their children to sin and that it is okay to sin.

We need humble women obedient to God’s words, not arrogant ladies who think they know better than God. We need those women who can teach other ladies how to live their lives correctly, loving their husbands and their children. Not those who think that an unborn child is a disease invading the body of a woman. Aborting a child is not showing love for their children but hatred because the child is inconvenient.

The world does not need women who lead others to destruction. It needs those women who are courageous enough to stand with God correctly and make a real difference in the lives of their families, their friends and their countries. Women like Mrs. Clinton and Hogue are not such women as they use their position to destroy families and the country the claim to love.Such women should not get and do not deserve any Christian support or praise. They need to be rebuked and taught lessons.

Those two women, and many more like them are very selfish

I made the decision that was best for me

They only think of themselves, not the fathers, their other children only themselves and that is not biblical teaching.We do not need such women in the world today. Men and women need to rise up in opposition to these leaders of evil and correctly use the spiritual authority in them to bring them face to face with God in hopes that they will see the error of their ways

We do not sin in combating these women. We rebuked them and rebut their sinful actions with God’s methods, bringing his holiness to the issue so that those who side with evil cannot stand nor continue to lead people to destruction.

Women’s lives matter so does their faith and entrance into heaven. Let’s take the right course of action to see that evil women do not succeed

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, controversial issues, education, faith, family, General Life, Justice, leadership, politics, theology

 

2 Articles You Should Read

We need to amend our statement that our last post would be our final one for this internet session. we read two good articles after we made that post and want to encourage you all to read them as well.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/nba-north-carolina-bathroom-law-founding-fathers-bible-warned-167158/

and

http://www.christianpost.com/news/nba-north-carolina-bathroom-law-founding-fathers-bible-warned-167158/

both are well written, to the point and honest. They also probably say it better than we can

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in academics, church, family, leadership

 

What Other Bloggers Are Saying 2

For our final post of this internet session we will look at some of the things that hit the internet and we will start with an image that actually displays the unbelief and depravity of man even though it was used to humiliate believers.

#1. I Have A Bookhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/07/i-have-this-book-heres-how-i-got-it.html

The above image comes via a post on Jerry Coyne’s blog, “The Truth About Creationism vs. Evolutionism.”

Yes it is the truth about creationism versus science but it i snot what the original author intended. Instead it shows how people will ignore what God has said about what he has done and go off and do their own thing, believe something other than what was actually done and simply ignore God. The person holding up the Bible is like a voice in the wilderness, speaking the truth but no one will listen let alone hear what he has to say.

They are all too busy pursuing alternatives to hear the truth. Creation was a one-time supernatural act not something done to appease secular scientists who reject God.

#2. If You Are Going To Do Top 10 Lists http://www.peteenns.com/10-old-testament-passages-that-mean-a-lot-to-me-and-shape-how-i-think-about-god/

and http://www.peteenns.com/my-top-10-new-testament-passages-and-the-4th-one-will-shock-you/

4. …the truth will make you free… (John 8:32). The truth—knowing Christ—will make you free, namely free from yourself to be free toward God.

Then you shouldn’t include verses that expose you as a false teacher, expose your heresy, and contradict what you have written in your books. This is but one example of cherry picking bible verses and altering them to fit what one wants to believe instead of allowing the verses to change you towards what is the truth. Another example

10. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). This about sums it all up for me. Knowledge alone is overrated. To trust God, despite what you know or don’t know or think you know, is to be whole and at peace.

Enns doesn’t trust God when it comes to our origins and has written books about his alternative beliefs. He relies upon his own understanding when it comes to God and his judgements against OT people as well and has written a book detailing his alternative beliefs. Why say you like those verses when you do not follow them correctly? because they allow enough wiggle room for people like Enns to believe what they want and delude themselves into thinking they are still a Christian.

#3. Being Politicalhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/5-more-things-christians-should-remember-this-election-cycle/

Since as a Christian I believe our allegiance should be to the Kingdom of God and the principles that govern it,

Statements like this are funny because he has told everyone that he is a progressive Christian and not loyal to the kingdom of God.He seeks to change the kingdom and its guiding writings to lead people to do what he wants not what God wants. He does not understand much about why choosing a leader is so important nor does he understand how much of what takes place in politics among christians is personal desire not spiritual obedience and his point 2 exposes his lack of understanding that the position is filled by people who need to have integrity, character, honesty not by those who are looking to make cultural changes because of their personal ambitions.

Remember that people are more important than positions

And the people who occupy those positions of leadership matter. We do not let just anyone in especially if they are morally bankrupt and allow for sin to ruin a nation. His point 1 makes an interesting comment

Remember that Jesus said we should be known by how well we love each other

Love does not mean we place a woman in office just because she is a woman, she will make history, she is strong. None of those characteristics are criteria for leadership. Love does not allow for those who support sin and evil to lead the way, even in politics.

#4. God Has Spokenhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/no-a-hillary-presidency-wont-be-the-end-of-america/

Whatever policy disagreements I have with Hillary Clinton, she is in no way a threat to the future of the Republic.

Yes I am being sarcastic but that is the impression I get when that particular blogger writes. He acts like he is God and has the final say on all matters both spiritual and political. He obviously does not apply scripture when creating his opinions about what will happen when certain people obtain the presidency. God warned us in Is.about loving evil and calling it good and from what I have heard and read about Mrs. Clinton, the speakers at the DNC and other comments made by leading democrats at other events America will be in jeopardy if Mrs. Clinton and the democrats get elected.

Their love for sin undermines anything good they claim to represent, their leading women to sin shows their true colors when it comes to God and his word and their support of other evil tell us that they are leading America to the fate suffered by so many ancient and sinful nations. America does not deserve a Jonah but it needs one desperately, and the DNP could be described as Nineveh is described– people who do not know their left hand from their right.

It is so sad to see that political party so openly encourage people to do evil and get so much support when they do so. if anything, the DNC is a message to believers that there is still a lot of work to do for God. We stand with God not with political parties. We declare what is right and wrong no matter how it affects the nominee and their platform. If they are wrong we let them know it we do not compromise.

We will add that these words apply to any political party that ignores what God has told us to do. We do not support the departure  from good, right and morality but stand in the breach pointing the correct way from destruction to salvation.

#5. Historianshttps://jamestabor.com/do-historians-exclude-the-supernatural/

Historians love and welcome evidence

Yes but God is about faith and there will not be enough evidence to satisfy historians.

Modern standards of argument and objectivity were unknown to ancient writers. Writing was more often than not a blatant attempt at propaganda and apologetics, and all the more so when it came to competing systems of religious understanding.

This is judging a whole group of people based upon minute extant historical works. If you compare many modern historians’ works you will see that they do the same thing as they accuse the ancients of doing. Maybe the ancient historians were just more honest than their modern counterparts.

For example, we know virtually nothing about the so-called “lost years of Jesus,” and thus are left to speculate about his childhood and early adult life until about age 30 (assuming we even trust Luke, our single source, about his age when he joined John the Baptizer). Our attempts are educated guesses and creative reconstructions.

Those ‘lost years’ are not germane to Christianity and we are given clues as to how Jesus behaved growing up when we read Mary’s words to the priests in the temple, and I paraphrase, ‘ even we do not understand some of the things he says’. Jesus may not have had a ministry but he was still God as a youngster and did not act as others humans acted.

We do not need to waste time constructing those ‘lost years’ because they are not what God wanted us to learn from and we cannot verify one thing about those years if we could. There is no record existing that was written about Jesus and his early life because salvation and the Christian life do not rest upon those first 30 years. People are changed because of what he taught in those 3 short years and it was that message his disciples took to the world.

It is the same with the question of whether or not Jesus was married or had children. For years I agreed with most of my colleagues that the possibilities of this appear to be slight but over the past five years, in looking at the new evidence from the Talpiot tombs, as well as reviewing all the arguments, I have become convinced otherwise…is completely unaware of the solid scholarship on Mary Magdalene

Even intelligent people are led astray by evil. They are not immune to deception if they do not believe God and follow his ways. Scholarship is not divinely inspired scripture but usually the work of unbelievers who cannot know the truth. Nor is scholarship the field we turn to when we want to know the truth. It is not the source of truth just subjective personal opinion.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, controversial issues, faith, General Life, history, leadership, politics, theology

 

Answering Ben Witherington

We have an old post of his that we have been meaning to address for some time now but never got around to doing it till now. You can read it at the following link:

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/bibleandculture/2009/10/why-arguments-against-women-in-ministry-arent-biblical.html

#1.One of the reasons I did that thirty some years ago was because of the controversy that raged then over the issue of women in ministry, and more particularly women as pulpit ministers and senior pastors.  Never mind that the Bible does not have categories like ‘senior pastor’ or ‘pulpit minister’,  the NT has been used over and over again to justify the suppression of women in ministry— and as I was to discover through years of research and study,  without Biblical justification.

Two things we would like to address here and first  is that the church is free to title their pastors in any fashion they see fit. God did not really provide any firm instructions on how to label a senior pastor and his assistants  Not having biblical categories for certain positions doe snot necessarily mean we cannot have those designations.

Second, his use of the term ‘suppression’. It is not biblical to use a secular term to describe who God wants to direct his church and how it is to be done. No one is suppressing women because historically, they have never had biblical or Godly permission to be priests or ministers. This is not a ‘rights’ or ‘equality’ issue and we should use our terms carefully when discussing this issue.God does not do rights or equality the way the secular world defines and applies those terms.

#2.Women can’t be ministers, because only males can be priests offering the sacrifice of the Mass etc.   The root problem with this argument is that the NT is perfectly clear that apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, elders, deacons ARE NOT PRIESTS IN THE NT.

No one ever said that the apostles, etc., were priests and we should not change the biblical instructions because the NT uses a different term than the OT for the same position.

#3.There is no need for a  separate order of priests in the NT because Christ’s sacrifice made obsolete the entire OT sacerdotal system of priests, temples and sacrifices.  The only priesthoods we hear about in the NT are: 1) the priesthood of all believers, which of course includes women, and 2) the heavenly high priesthood of Christ (see Hebrews).

This argument fails because both the OT and the NT provide clear-cut qualifications for who can lead God’s people, temple and church and neither include the idea that someone only has to be a member of the priesthood of believers. Dr. Witherington’s misunderstanding of the term priest as used in the NT leads him to an erroneous conclusion about the ministry and who is qualified to fill that office.

#4. Women can’t be ministers because then they would have headship over men, including their husbands— and this will never do,  and is a violation of the household codes in the NT.

Dr. Witherington’s reasoning in support of this point just do not make any sense nor are they biblical. For example:

As I have argued at length, the patriarchal family was the existing reality in the NT world, and what you discover when you compare what is in the NT and what is outside the NT, is that Paul and others are working hard to change the existing structures in a more Christian direction.  Paul, for example, has to start with his audience where they are, and then persuade them to change

This is read into Paul’s words not taken out of them. There is nothing in the Bible that states that God used a secular cultural standard to set the criteria for his priests or pastors. Then nothing in Paul’s words or any apostles words state that they are working for ‘change’. DR. Witherington seems to have forgotten that it is god who sets the rules for his church not Paul or anyone else.

#5. Women can’t be Christian ministers because specific passages in the NT prohibit it.

Yes they do and if Dr. Witherington studied the consistency of god, he would know that God did not set any rule in the NT that he did not set in the OT. God did not change his views between the writing of the two testaments. Here is one example of Dr. Witherington’s bad logic:

Paul is correcting problems as they arise in the house churches in Corinth.  One such problem is caused by some women, apparently just some wives, who are interrupting the time of prophesying by asking questions.

If this is so, then where are the new instructions from God telling the church to be different from what is recorded in the NT? Dr. Witherington does not produce divinely inspired apostle give and ancient church approved alternative scriptures saying that the criteria given by Paul are only for the Corinthians or Timothy’s and Titus’ churches.

To say that those texts are restricted to certain ancient situations is again reading into the text and applying personal desire over humble obedience to God and his word. Changing the translation of certain words doe snot help his unbiblical case. He has no scripture to support his opinion and his arguments.

#6.Thank God for strong, gifted women in the church.   No, the problem in the church is not strong women, but rather weak men who feel threatened by strong women, and have tried various means, even by dubious exegesis to prohibit them from exercising their gifts and graces in  the church.

This is just uncalled for and a personal attack on most men. Dr. Witherington should know that being a strong woman does not make one qualified for being a pastor of a church. There is also more to overseeing a group of people than standing in a doorway blocking some troops. Yeltsin did that too except he climbed on a tank but that action did not make him a good and solid leader.

Dr. Witherington tries to rewrite certain passages of scripture in order to make his arguments work. He also uses modern cultural arguments and feelings to further his misunderstanding of the Bible and God’s instructions on who can be his leaders. His opposition to patriarchy is a modern protest not a biblical one.No one yet who argues in favor of violating God’s instructions has mounted a biblical argument to support their disobedience to God’s will for his church and people.

Yes they use the Bible but their use of scriptures is erroneous and lacking in understanding of what is being said in the Bible.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Bible, church, comparative religions, controversial issues, faith, family, leadership, theology

 

Missionary Care

    originally given July 15th 2016 at ACM Seminar

When I was young, I was an athlete. There wasn’t a land sport I couldn’t play and as I played, there were times that I needed medical care. The coach would then send us to the right medical professional to tend to our problems. The question we must ask is, “where would athletes be if there were no medical professionals to aid the injured player?

I do not like delving into the ‘what if…’ questions because they do not reflect reality but in this case a ‘what if’ question is needed to provide a very good illustration that helps us understand the spiritual responsibility Christians have towards each other. So to reword the question,  ‘what if those medical professionals decided to become athletes? They no longer wanted to do the hard work of taking care of the player but wanted to participate in the fun and fame of athletic competition.

The result would be that we no longer would have athletes because no one would be left to take care of the injured players. Sports would go away for no one would be healthy enough to continue playing. because the medical professionals were tired of doing the hard work without receiving any recognition,

This is the situation in the church today. For far too long we have given too much priority to one area of the Christian life and we try to get as many people to participate in that one outlet as we can and sadly the other unsung parts of the spiritual body have largely been ignored or left underdeveloped.

I would like to turn to one passage of scripture that will be the text for what I am about to say

27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

 

As we see God does not focus solely upon one aspect of the body nor over-prioritize it. He provides offices that do not get the press, do not get the fame or the praise that comes with more public offices of the Christian body. But the contribution made by those unsung believers who serve in those offices is vital to the church and its health.

We need to rephrase the initial question again.

Where would missionaries and evangelists be if every believer left or were directed away from the calling God has for them and they all entered the field of evangelism or missionary work? Where would the church be if no one took care of those who were specifically called to be missionaries. Missionaries and the church would not exist as everyone would be spiritually damaged and there would be no one to tend to their spiritual wounds.

The support offices of the spiritual body may not get the press, they may not get the fame but they are very important to the health of the church and while it may be hard work, we need believers to be correctly trained in those areas of the Christian life in order for the church to be healthy and continue to reach others for Christ. These believers pick up the pieces and with God’s help put our missionaries, pastors and other church leaders back together so they do not lose their faith and walk away from God.

We know this happens as there are plenty of websites where former ministers, missionaries and other church leaders go to talk about their departure from their faith and God. There are 3 items I would like to focus on in this talk on missionary care, and what I am about to say actually applies to everyone in the church, not just missionaries.

I. Perspective:

People are going to sin, they are going to make mistakes but how we handle those errors says a lot to all involved and the silent observers who see what took place. If we want a biblical example of how to correctly handle those who make unfortunate mistakes or stumble in their testimonies we only have to go as far as Peter who denied Christ 3 times.

The other disciples did not form a committee to ‘deal with’ Peter’s sins, they did not demand he be tossed out of the church nor was he deprived of access to Jesus. In fact, God worked in Peter’s life and brought him back to where he was powerfully used in the early church.

In the west, the Christian church has the reputation, and has had it for decades, that it kills its wounded. We cannot afford such a reputation but need to properly heal those who are spiritually wounded by attacks from evil no matter the situation.

One way to bring proper care is to keep the missionaries mistakes and sins in perspective. How do we do that? Those given the task of caring for the missionary simply ask themselves one simple question: We would they be if God did not give them 1, 5, 50 etc., chances? Where would we be if God took the hardline attitude that we often bring to our missionaries who err?

We do know where we would be because God has taken the hardline in the OT and we go to the battles of Jericho and Ai to see that result. It is not a pretty picture, so we need to allow grace, humility and forgiveness to guide us in handling the spiritual problems that arise when missionaries stumble.

Those people charged with handling the spiritual and physical needs of the missionary must remember that they are no better than the one making the mistakes for they are not perfect either yet God has nurtured them back to spiritual health and are being used by God to advance his will.

Keeping everything in perspective helps solve the problem correctly and allows for God to bring the right solution to the issue.

II: Forgiveness:

Forgiveness is a key component in tending to the spiritual injuries of the missionary, pastor or other church leaders. Even though the mistake made was not against anyone in the church we still need to forgive because one, many people hold those mistakes against the missionary and their future treatment of the missionary is affected by that refusal to forgive.

One example, as I learned my lessons when I was teaching in Korea, God led me to the attitude that with each new class I would give my students a brand new start and what happened in other classes was forgotten and not held over their heads.

I found that I could focus on teaching, obtaining the right material for my students and the overall atmosphere in the classroom was better and that students responded to me in a more positive way. Forgiveness helps us to focus on what God wants us to do towards the other person and keeps our attitude toward them spiritually clean so that we can minister to those who make mistakes.

Two, forgiveness helps us remove the beams from our own eyes so we can see clearly what action we are to take. Forgiveness removes personal opinion, preference and emotions from muddying the waters and distorting the issue and we can focus on coming to the right disciplinary measure, rebuke or counsel.

We can correctly spiritually address the issue or problem and have our response fit the violation regardless if other people agree or like our conclusions. We are not out to make an example of violators, we are not out to appear to be spiritual in our handling of their mistakes and so on.

We are not allowed to sin when dealing with the mistakes made by other believers.

III: Honesty:

In caring for your missionaries, you need to be honest— You cannot play favorites, you need look at all the evidence without bias, investigate without dishonesty.  Make sure all sides get a fair hearing. There is nothing to be gained by being dishonest or by lying.

You also cannot look to the secular world for guidance because the unbelieving world is deceived, blind and does not have a superior objective moral code given by a holy and sinless supreme being to follow.

They have rejected God and his ways of justice and make up their own as influenced by evil. The secular world also does not have the spirit of truth to guide them to the real truth of a matter thus they go with whatever they favor and when that happens justice and mercy are lost.

The church needs to set the right example for everyone else to follow and if they do not do it, no one else will. The church is to be the light unto a dark world and that light includes how it handles the mistakes made and the spiritual injuries received by the missionary.

How we handle disciplining, supporting, caring for our public spiritual leaders and workers says a lot to the unchurched world and if we do not do it right, with the right motives, the right attitude then we may lose potential converts because the unchurched world will be turned off by the church’s mishandling of the mistakes, sins and other problems made or incurred by the missionary.

Just last week, a mega church fired in America fired its founder and senior pastor and one of the comments made was that they followed the instructions found in the book of Matthew. We do not need to announce how we adjudicate church matters. We need to simply and humbly follow God’s instructions and apply the right verses to the situation at hand and take care of matters God’s way.

I read a lot of different Christian’s articles and comments and one organization’s leader, in addressing the same-sex/transgender bathroom issue quoted different scripture. So I looked at those scriptures and found that they did not address the issue at hand; there were far better verses that could have been used.

When we use the bible we need to make sure we have the right verses God wants us to use and we need to apply them to the situation correctly. Then we make sure the verses and direction came from God. We cannot assume they do for evil disguises itself as angels of light so we need to ensure we are actually following God and not some deceptive interference.

If we do not do that we may end up doing more damage than the mistakes or sins did when they were committed by the missionary.

Conclusion:

As you may have noticed, the support work, the caring of a missionary sends a gospel message even when the person is not proclaiming the gospel message. Everything works together in God’s kingdom and though the support and care members of the spiritual body do not mention a salvation message their work sends one out to those who do not believe.

Their work can and does plant seeds in the unbeliever, they water the seeds and if they do it wrong they can kill those biblical seeds and cause stumbling blocks to Christ. They can also kill the missionary outreach.

I mentioned earlier the words ‘silent observer’ and I use those terms to describe the people who are watching what is happening but we do not know that they are observing the chain of events. They may be relatives, friends that we have never met and how we treat our missionaries and their errors will be communicated to those people we may never see. How we act in caring for missionaries, etc., influences their views of the church and Christ.

We may unknowingly plant or water seeds or we may rip them out, only God will know for sure how our actions affects the silent observer.

Missionary and evangelism are not limited to preaching a gospel message, it is in everything we do and when the church strays from following God’s way it sends a negative message to the unchurched world. Even in our care for our more public members who get the press and the accolades for their sacrifice.

One thing that needs to be pointed out, is that those who provide the right care for their missionaries are also making a spiritual sacrifice that is on par with the one made by those they are looking after. One is not greater than another

The last thing that needs to be mentioned and it is not the least. The care of your missionaries must be done for the glory of God. The Bible tells us to do all things for his glory and all things includes caring of missionaries, pastors, and other church leaders.

People need to see that God cares about them even missionaries. So we do our unsung hard work for God, with a pure heart and clean hands so that all people can see God at work and that he cares for them.

I think there is time for questions.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, faith, leadership, theology

 

Textual Criticism 2

  1. Elitism

Many charges are leveled at the Bible and Dr. Wegner mentions some of them. I will refer to three in my defense of my stated position. The first is found on page 38:

‘Bart Ehrman takes a somewhat different direction and suggests that when an early scribe changed a text to provide a more orthodox theological viewpoint, he may have then created a new original text.

This charge is like all the rest in that it is not provable but it says more as it assumes that the scribe or copyist had the authority to make any changes and that they did not care about the warnings God made when He stated a person would be in trouble if they added or subtracted from the words of the Bible.

It also suggests that the church people were naïve and unaware that someone was changing scripture and did nothing about it.  Statements like the one quoted, shows how little the modern scholar thinks of his ancient or medieval counterparts. If they lay these kins of charges against their forerunners, then why can’t we lay the same charges against them and discredit all their work?

What gives them the right or qualifies them to stand in judgment of those who dealt with the Bible before them? This is one of the major problems in the field of modern textual criticism, their elitism.  They do not have all the facts about the past, so they make something and make claims about how only they in the modern world is capable of determining what the words of God really are.

The Roman Catholic Church, did something similar when they made it clear that only priests and higher officials could understand the Bible and the common folk had to listen to their words for they were not qualified to determine what God was saying. He only spoke through the priests, bishops and so on.

The second charge that will be looked at moves along the same lines and is found on page 44:

“In a similar way, the text of the Bible has undergone centuries of hand copying by scribes who were prone to human error.”

And the modern scholar is not? This elitist attitude now assumes that the ancient and medieval worlds were completely inept and could not figure out how to put oversight protocols in place to catch any ‘mistakes’ made.  The infer that the person doing the copying simply decided one day to copy the Bible for the fun of it and picked up feather or other writing utensils and started copying. The insult to the people of the past is very clear and demonstrates that the modern scholar thinks they can read long dead minds over thousands of years.

They do not know what took place in the past, they do not know if protocols were implemented or not, they do not know if they followed God or not in their endeavors. They assume because they think there are errors, even though they do not have the original writings to confirm their assumptions.

On page 51 we find the third charge leveled at the ancient copyist:

“In their zealousness to preserve scripture, scribes had a tendency to include everything in the text…rather than to omit anything…”

If the scribes were Christian, why would they ignore God’s warnings and add in words that He did not put in the text? They would be placing their eternity at risk by doing so thus this charge just doesn’t holdup as it assumes that the scribe was a fearful person and could not do their jobs properly. This also assumes that the ancient employer of scribes was unable to provide direction and aid to his employee copyists.

The arrogance of the modern scholar creates these false scenarios based upon no fact or evidence for whatever reason they have in mind. Maybe to make themselves look better but who knows, as we see this attitude in the Dead Sea Scroll controversy of a few years ago (scholars did not share their portions with others or let them get copies until they published themselves. Some died before publishing anything and their successors were no better).

This elitism in the modern field impairs their work and perception of their ancient counterparts and shows an ignorance of God’s creative work, for the ancients were no different than their modern counterparts, they have the same type of brain, the same desires, the same goals thus it is safe to conclude that their work was as careful as those who do the same job today.

What else these three charges say is that God was incapable of keeping His promise of preserving His word and that it is up to the modern scholar to do it for Him. Yet, again we return to the same old problem that comes with the purpose of textual criticism. How can they reconstruct the original text when they claim they do not know what they said and have no way of proving they were successful?

If God was incapable then how will these men succeed? These questions are supported by Dr. Wegner’s own words when on page 61 he says:

“Since there is so little evidence concerning this early period, (pre-400 B.C.), we are left with several significant questions. First, in what language(s) were the earliest biblical manuscripts written?…Our final question, Who maintained these biblical texts in this early period”

If the modern textual scholar does not know which language the Bible was originally written in then how can they even consider reconstructing the original text or get a reasonable reading? They would not know if the translated the words correctly or came close to what the originals actually said.

Then is it really important as to who maintained them? Will the modern scholar change the texts we have now simply because they disproved of God’s choice of caretaker? The questions can go on for we do not know all the details of the past and we never will. They are lost to time forever and we will always have a partial picture which makes this field of textual criticism more of a waste of time than a help.

 

Conclusion

So it seems that the textual critics are pursuing an unreachable goal and one they can never verify. I will place just one more example here, any more and they will become redundant, as it exemplifies the reasons why I reject textual criticism in its present form. On page 140 Dr. Wegner has the following to say:

“…the better we know the sources, the better we will understand their purpose, possible corruptions, relationship to one another and value for Old Testament textual criticism. Waltke states correctly: “No one source perfectly preserves the original text of the Old Testament and in case of disagreement the critic must decide on the original reading in light of all the sources and his knowledge about them.”’

I am going to go through this quote piece by piece, with some pieces larger than others, before spending time on what I believe the believer should be doing when it comes to God’s word.

First, the better we know the sources, the better we will understand their purpose: Here the believer simply needs to know God’s word best, by doing so we know the purpose of those altered texts and sources, to deceive and lead people away from the truth. Too often, altered mss. or ‘corrupted’ material have their source in those who do not believe and their authors will not take care in how they cop the Bible for their intent is not to spread the truth but their own ideas and philosophies.

We have to know what God’s word is saying before we can see the errors and the purpose in the other works for if we do not, then how will we be able to identify which is truth and which is the error? It is quite possible to include corrupted, untruthful material when one does not know the word of God, they will not know what to look for and will remove the wrong material by mistake.

Second, No one source perfectly preserves the original text of the Old Testament. Yet how does he know this? If it is referring to fragmentary material, then he would be correct but the textbook kept on praising the accuracy of the MT editions and their copyists skillful work.

It is clear that Waltke does not believe that God will keep His promise and thinks that it is the job of man to find what is ‘missing’ from the texts we do have. Without the ‘originals’ one cannot say if they have the complete text or not, for as I said earlier, they have nothing to with which to double check their work. Nor do they have the ‘originals’ which would allow them to make that statement, and see what is actually missing.

Third, in case of disagreement the critic must decide on the original reading in light of all the sources and his knowledge about them. This is the clincher for it states that it is up to the human to decide what God has said not God. If we do not have the originals, if we do not know what the originals actually said, then there is no way that the textual critic can decide what is the original text.

How can he, for he may be making an error in judgment or another textual critic would disagree with his choice and publish his own decision, placing the people who read their work on the path to confusion. This subjectivity allows for too much doubt to enter in a believer’s mind, opening the door for evil to do its destructive work.

It also places God’s word in the hands of a few, something God did not intend to do. For if the people do not get to know God’s word but are only allowed to hear the scholar’s version, then how will they know if the scholar is a true or false teacher. The ramifications of the idea that only the critic gets to decide are immense and too dangerous.

There are no checks and balances in place which over-rule the scholar save for the their own rules of conduct but those are written by fallible man as well and are not perfect thus we have danger in every aspect of this field and nothing in place to safeguard the Word of God. The people are at the mercy of the critic and that is just not right.

The very assumption that initiates their work is enough to tell someone that they are not headed in the right direction. That assumption, ‘we do not have the words of God and we must search for them…’ is not a very peaceful proclamation especially in light of the fact that the Bible promises us, ‘the peace that passes all understanding…’

We can’t have peace if we are questioning the very words granting us that relief. We wouldn’t even know if those words were actually originally God’s, given the premise behind the assumption. But what are we to do? What follows is what I believe God wants me to say and follow when it comes to knowing His words

  1. We Must Have Faith:

First, we need to have faith that God has kept His word and provided us with at least one source that contains His complete word. If we do not then we might as well give up right now. In evangelism or apologetics work, if we are questioned if we think we have all of God’s word and we say no, then we have lost.

For what have we to offer the unbeliever if we do not present all of God’s word? Nothing, because they, and we, will never know which passages are God’s original word and which aren’t. They all will be called into question coupled with the charge how do you know this is God’s word and this isn’t? Our answers drive the unbeliever away because why should they believe if we do not.

Second, we need faith to please God, which means that we have faith that God has kept His word and that we have all of the original passages with none missing. How cruel would that be if God gives the promise that His word will endure forever then provides us with copies that do not contain His original message and revelations?

How could we get to know God, we would not, could not, be sure if what He tells us about Himself is actually true, nor could we defend Genesis 1 against the opposition created by the evolutionists or other origin alternative theories.

Thus by saying that we do not have the original words, we are crippling ourselves and defeating our purpose for believing in Jesus.

Does this mean that we do not need to learn the ancient languages or study the past? NO, for not only do we need to know what is the truth so we can pass it on tour children and students, we also need to have the unbelieving world realize that we know the truth and are on watch for their distortions, alterations and lies.

If we cannot defend against the attacks of the devil, and spot error, then what good is believing the Bible? We will lose that belief once a more knowledgeable secular person comes along who has studied the ancient languages and starts changing the translation of God’s word to what they want it to be.

We are not excused from learning, we just have to do it God’s way so that we can withstand the attacks and survive without being lead astray.

  1. The Holy Spirit:

In reading this textbook, it was amazing to see how the author ignored or omitted the working of the Holy Spirit. As I quoted earlier, he places the burden of deciding what is or isn’t God’s word upon the fallible and sinful human critic and did not point to the Holy Spirit or His/Its(?) job to lead us to the truth.

Everything was to be done the scientific way, via humanistic rules which do not even obtain for us , according to them, all the words of God and the critic, then, must decide what is the original text. I am not a believer in science, it is a too limited field which depends upon too limited and fragmentary data and bases its conclusions upon assumption not fact or truth.

Textual Criticism has a problem, it lets the human be in charge of what he is not supposed to have authority over-God’s word. But this is typical of those who believe in science as they look to humans to ferret out the answer and leave God and the Holy Spirit on the sideline, if they acknowledge them at all.

Yet, Jesus never told us to use science, especially if it is governed by the secular world and its ways, He said, ‘However, when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.” {John 16:13} Jesus gave us our method, we are to lean upon the Holy Spirit to learn the truth not science.

Being guided by one who knows all the answers, knows where al the information is buried and what is truth and error is far better than being guided by humans who sin, are influenced wrongly and have never seen the original documents (according to them), let alone which text has the truth and which has the errors.

  1. The Spiritual View:

This couples with the previous points as we can use ancient languages, we can use science in part but we must use them God’s way with His view not human’s. We have to apply scripture to our work to aid us in determining what is the correct passage and what is the wrong one. As we have seen earlier, people like to edit scriptures to fit their own ideas and that has not stopped with Marcion but has travelled up through the centuries via people like Rev. Moon, Jim Jones, and so many others.

If we practice textual criticism in the secular way then we are just doing the exact same thing as the cultists and putting our own stamp on scripture and making it like we want it to be instead of vice versa. But if we do it from a spiritual view, then our eyes are open and we can see the difference between the truth and the error. We have many scriptures which guide us in our quest to know God’s word:

“ye shall know the truth and it shall set you free.”; “If any man brings a different gospel than the one Jesus and the disciples brought…”; “My words shall not pass away…”

And so many more, which tells us that we do not have to rely on elitists who think they alone get to determine what God has said. It says that we with the Holy Spirit’s help will know the truth and that was addressed to all men, not just the ones who studied theology or ancient languages. But we have to start with faith and rely on the Holy Spirit not the limited vision of men and science.

  1. Confidence:

We then can have the confidence that the Bible is the word of God and not only that we can have peace that we have all of His words so that we do not have to keep on searching and wondering if we got it right. We know we have it right and we know we can preach it to the unbeliever and not worry when they question us about those words.

But we have to do it God’s way not man’s and we have to rely on the Biblical verses which give us the clues we need.  It is not hard to see that Marcion was wrong because he changed the Bible to fit his ways in disobedience to God’s command and we then know to dismiss and discard his codex for it does not contain the words of God and they have no bearing on what the true documents tell us.

To end this paper, I need to say that I am not a science person nor am I a supporter of textual criticism done in the manner of secular thinking. I do not believe in those things, I believe in the Trinity and what the Bible tells us. It is after all God’s instructions to His followers and we need to adhere to that, learn all the verses which guide us in knowing what is the right scriptures and which are the wrong ones so that we do not go astray and cripple ourselves.

We cannot preach the Bible if we do not follow it in all fields of study and place it above all such fields. If we demote it then we have nothing to offer the unbeliever and they have no alternative to escape what they do have.

We either have the original words of God or we have nothing and textual criticism practiced Dr. Wegner’s way, tells the world we have nothing and it is up to man to decide and if it is up to man to decide, then why would we need God and the Bible?

In its present form, textual criticism is a waste of time and money for its results are too few to justify the expense of either.  Its lack of confidence, use of the Holy Spirit, its humanistic subjectivity are all dangers which keep leading us away from the truth not towards it and allows for those like Marcion and others to write their own versions and confuse the people.

We need to do what God says, ‘get knowledge, wisdom and understanding’ and apply those to our work with God’s word so that we can find the truth with the help of the Holy Spirit for such are not limited perspectives but enabled by God so we will not cripple ourselves and be defeated by evil.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, education, faith, family, leadership, theology

 
 
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