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Category Archives: General Life

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls

We get a couple of newsletters from different archaeology organizations and the one we received today had the title of this article as its question. They also hade the following as a lead in:

Villa, fortress, pottery factory, caravanserai. Essene, Sadducee, Christian

The debate about who wrote the dead sea scrolls and what was Qumran probably will go on for a long time. That is until someone comes to their senses about Qumran and see that it could have been everything described in that lead in. It is quite possible that Qumran was fortified when the news of the approaching Roman legions finally reached the area.

It would be hard to tell when exactly that fortification took place. The buildings could have been a prison prior to the Essene occupation and fortified at that time. Then it could have been a pottery factory prior to the Essenes moving in, or the Essenes could have made pottery to support themselves. Archaeology can be a guessing game at times.

Where does the truth actually lie–if indeed any undisputed truth has even yet been established?

As we have studied Qumran and the Essenes, we have come to the conclusion that Qumran had a variety of uses including the Essene sanctuary. The presence of mikvahs helps support that last idea. The truth may not be found in this case as to many people look for a single answer. They dismiss the idea that the buildings existed for a long time prior to the Roman destruction and went through a variety of owners who used the space for their own purposes

The Essenes of Qumran were a community formed and guided by a party of Zadokite priests. In the latter half of the second century B.C., having lost hope of regaining their ancient authority in the theocracy of Jerusalem and under active persecution by a new house of reigning priests, they fled to the desert and, finding new hope in apocalyptic dreams, readied themselves for the imminent judgment when their enemies would be vanquished and they, God’s elect, would be given final victory in accordance with the predictions of the prophets.

We have an article written a while ago on the Essenes. We just forgot where we put it. We like the author but do not run into many of his published works so we have forgotten his name for now. We will try to look for it and put it up here if we can. In the meantime, it is a great article on who Jesus was talking about in those verses where he mentions the Pharisees, Sadducees and the scribes. The author made a very strong case that Jesus was refering to the Essenes when he used the word scribes.

Jesus wouldn’t have used the name Essenes as that was a name created many centuries after Jesus walked the earth. They may not have had an organizational name at that time. Since the Essenes had the reputation as being scribes, it would make sense that Jesus would use the term for scribes. If that author is correct, that would solve one biblical mystery.

Certainty was short-lived. By 1990, in Bible Review, Lawrence H. Schiffman was convinced that either the sect at Qumran was not Essene, but was Sadducean, or that the Essene movement must be totally redefined as having emerged out of Sadducean beginnings.

But archaeology being what it is, there will always be those people who do not accept the facts and continue to push for their ideas. The origins of the Essenes are shrouded in mystery. They could have taken in disgruntled former Sadducees, they could have been formed by the those men who quit that group. We don’t know for any credible documents talking about their origin either were never written or have never been uncovered. Religious groups start up almost every year and the Essenes could have come from anywhere.

They could also have  been started by men who were not part of any religious tradition but saw the need or heard a speaker they liked and decided to form their group. Again, we cannot be sure because documentation is missing.

Scholars used to think that the library was entirely the product of the inhabitants of Qumran. Instead, it can now be stated, this hoard of manuscripts includes material representing a variety of Jewish groups as well as polemics against other Jewish groups.

The scrolls could have been written or copied by the Essenes or they could have purchased them from a businessman who dealt in religious works. It is highly likely that they wrote the scrolls that pertained to their beliefs and the teacher of righteousness. The other scrolls could be their own work or… pick your theory. Again, archaeology can be a guessing game.

Because so little evidence refering to the Essenes remain, we may never know the complete truth. One thing is for sure, Robert Cargill’s, the new editor at BAR, theory that men smuggled the scrolls out through underground tunnels in pottery jars while the Romans had circled Jerusalem and were starting to enter the city, is unrealistic and void of any logical or rational proof. The scroll were placed in those caves long before the Romans cut the area off with their troops.

Sometimes we must be content with the mystery.

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Our Comments on a Few Topics 10

#1. So much wrong with thishttps://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/biological-male-wins-female-cycling-title-not-fair.html

A biological male who identifies as female won a cycling world championship Sunday, sparking controversy over fairness in athletics.

Rachel McKinnon won the 35-44 female age bracket at the UCI Masters track cycling championships in Los Angeles

“First transgender woman world champion…ever*” McKinnon wrote on Twitter

He may identify as a woman, but he is just a person pretending to be something he is not. Some people may argue the point and say that since the term transgender doesn’t appear in the bible, that God has not addressed this issue. He has. He just doesn’t use the same terms as we do. In the OT he talks about making 2 genders only and those options were perfect. He talks about men and women not dressing in each other’s clothes- he is against it. In the NT he talks about how the body is the temple of God and that it should not be corrupted; he also talks about deception and false teaching.

God says a lot about how wrong transgender is. Is letting that competitor compete with women fair? Of course not. The Bible tells us that the woman is the weaker gender. It is no contest. Men should not compete against women and women should not compete against men, no matter how talented they are. Doing otherwise and bowing to the demands of the LGBTQ community is wrong.

We are getting into an age where the western world will be like the city of Nineveh in Jonah’s day– not knowing their right hand from their left.

#2. We are glad he wonhttps://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/fire-chief-fired-for-christian-beliefs-get-1-2-million.html

The city of Atlanta agreed Monday to pay former fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million, four years after he was suspended and then fired for publishing a book containing historic Christian beliefs.

Cochran’s self-published 162-page book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?: Overcoming the Stronghold of Condemnation,” included Bible verses addresses sexuality and homosexuality. It was the latter topic that sparked a controversy and an investigation and eventually, his termination. He wrote the book on non-work time.

We also like the ruling as it was sound, logical and rational.

#3. Don’t think this will stop https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/christian-filmmakers-challenge-minnesota-law-for-forcing-them-to-make-same-sex-wedding-films.html

Two Christian filmmakers are going before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday, to challenge the state’s law that is forcing them to create videos that contradict their religious beliefs.

According to CBN, Telescope Media Group owners Carl and Angel Larsen wanted to enter into the wedding industry, but the state’s Human Rights Act prohibits the couple from pursuing this avenue unless they make films promoting same-sex marriage, a union that their Christian beliefs define as between one man and one woman

Governments will continue to find ways to make LGBTQ practicing people seem natural, normal and okay. That is until the support and the fad surrounding these issues go away. They are concerned more about votes than anything else. It isn’t the votes of the LGBTQ members that they are worried about. They are still a very small minority. It is the votes of their straight friends, family and observers that they worry about. That is not a small minority.

God has given governments the right to rule and Jesus never said to go against the government in a sinful way. So when defending yourselves or protesting these regulations make sure you stay within biblical teaching. We cannot win if we sin in our struggle against wrong decisions. The first battle of Ai proved that.

#4. Fear cannot defeat lovehttps://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/fear-grips-churches-northeastern-kenya-muslim-extremists-kill-christian-teachers.html

Fear Grips Churches in Northeastern Kenya as Muslim Extremists Kill Two Christian Teachers

We aren’t condemning or going to condemn anyone here. Overcoming fear is a hard thing to do. But the Bible tells us that love casts out fear. So if we love God then death and what unbelievers do to us should not make us afraid or fear anything. We have a God who has promised us a new home.

#5. It is a wrong lawhttps://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/breakpoint/deadly-canadian-maid-expansion-assisted-suicide-north.html

n 2016, Canada legalized “Medical Assistance in Dying also known as MAID. The terminology is, of course, a euphemism for euthanasia. To be eligible for MAID, persons must be at least 18-years-old and have a “grievous and irremediable” condition.

Like all such death-devoted legislation, terms like “grievous and irremediable” are moving targets. Descriptions used in the law include expressions like “serious and incurable,” “irreversible decline,” and suffering—both “physical and psychological”—that a person finds “intolerable.”

Of course, nearly all of these words are subjective: What’s “intolerable” to one person may not be to another. If Netherlands and Belgium are any indication, we can be sure that eligibility for MAID will, like gas, expand to fill whatever space is available.

The Bible says that if man spills the blood of man then his blood is required (done from memory). We do not see that penalty revoked in that or any other passage of scripture. Nor do we see any clause that exempts assisted suicide.Even though it is difficult to handle, we do not see God changing his views because some people cannot endure their illness.

Governments should not be promoting the ending a life no matter how many of its citizens complain and cry out. Governments leaders need to lead the people to what is right and lead them away from what is wrong. Church leaders cannot let the terms compassion and love distort or influence their biblical views in the wrong way. We love God thus we must present his way in the most compassionate way possible even if it goes against popular sentiments.

 

 

Our Comments on a Few Topics 9

#1. Plagiarism- https://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelist-christine-caine-settles-lawsuit-accused-her-copying-parts-authors-book-227925/

Ms. Scott contends that her work, Untangled, including exact wording, phrasing, and compilation, along with the book’s general thematic message and presentation, is consistently copied, reworded, and derived without authorization within Unashamed and Unshakeable and that there exists proof of direct copying within the book’s promotional materials and printed, e-book, and audio forms,” Delehanty said in the complaint against Caine and her publishers.

We are not going to say she did not plagiarize. We are also not going to berate her if she did. Christians already know that plagiarism is wrong and should not be done. What we are going to do is talk about plagiarism and the hypersensitivity that is part of the atmosphere in the writing world. We write and we know how difficult it is to be original. Especially when there are hundreds of people trying to write on the same topic.

To make things worse, sometimes there is just only 1 or 2 ways of saying the same thing. There are just not enough words in the English language to rephrase certain topics. We know, we have had to do this. People should not be too quick to throw the accusation of plagiarism around.

It is possible for two different people to come up with the same idea and use very similar words and phrases and do it independently of each other. If they couldn’t, then either Darwin had to sue Wm. Wallace or vice versa for stealing the idea of evolution. What needs to be done is to make sure plagiarism has taken place before accusing anyone of stealing ideas.

This is not always easy to do as similar words and phrasing is not evidence for plagiarism or copying only. it could be that two different people said the same thing the same way in an honest attempt to communicate their thoughts.  Let’s not jump on the accusation bandwagon and be careful to make sure a violation has been committed before pointing fingers.

#2. Christian Entertainmenthttps://www.christianpost.com/news/if-youd-like-to-rebuke-mainstream-media-buy-a-ticket-to-see-gosnell-227881/

and https://www.christianpost.com/voice/gosnell-the-movie-the-murder-case-that-put-abortion-on-trial.html

No, we do not need to rebuke mainstream media through going to see a movie. We do need to rebuke their faulty journalistic efforts and the deterioration of accurate, objective and honest reporting. That can be done in a variety of ways. We are like AW Tozer. We are not big fans of Christian entertainment. He wrote about the topic and his thoughts are captured in the work, Tozer on Worship & Entertainment by James Snyder.

We also do not agree that the movie Gosnell put abortion on trial. Abortion did not commit those crimes a human did. A human was put on trial for abusing the freedom that comes with legal abortion practices. Abortion itself cannot think nor can it decide to do evil. Let’s not distort what is taking place in that trial.

When Christians seek to use different media for their outreach, they need to be careful not to assume they are making the impact they think they are making. Somtimes it is just best to let God direct our actions and keep away from formats that may devalue the Gospel message.

#3. The new fad- https://www.christianpost.com/news/new-mariners-church-leader-stresses-importance-accountability-prevent-pastor-scandals-227789/

The new senior pastor for the California-based megachurch Mariners Church has stressed the importance of accountability, in light of recent scandals elsewhere in the evangelical world.

This seems to be the new fad that is rising in the church world. Church members are going to be seeking new ways to stay in control of their fellow believer’s lives. This is the second article in less than a week concerning the topic of accountability. We have been waiting for years to hear a good Christian definition of the term. Webster defines the term as:

an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Now we understand being responsible for one’s choices and behavior. But we tend to think that the church in general takes this too far and applies more criteria than is needed. The targeted person then ends up trying to please their fellow humans instead of God. Also, this trend leads some to add in outlawed words and behavior that are personal subjective preferences and not biblical ones.

We are reminded of a story we heard some years ago. A Christian man with a porn issue had to travel on business. As soon as he entered his hotel room his phone rang. It was a friend from his church. The caller told the man to call the front desk and have them disconnect any porn channels that may be delivered to his room.  This was before the man even had a chance to get settled and even think for himself what he should do.

The man may not have even considered watching porn but his issue was brought up and he was reminded of his weakness and then told what to do. That to us, is not accountability but using the term to dictate another person’s actions long before a violation was committed. Given Webster’s definition we would think that accountability waits till the person commits a violation before action can be taken.

We do not see the caller as being supportive as he could have talked to the man before he left on his business trip. Another problem we find with accountability is that it doesn’t relieve the person of past issues but reminds them of their failure, even when they may have taken care of that failure. Thier weaknesses are continually held over their heads even though God does not do that. Yet power over others is attractive to certain church members.

When it comes to pastors, we must remember that they are still human. They will face temptation or make a bad judgment call. We should not be surprised at a Christian leader’s mistakes. They may not have conquered all of their sins; they may not resist temptation to well and they may make bad decisions. Moses was a friend of God yet he still made a bad decision when he got angry.

We should be spiritually prepared to handle those errors correctly when they happen. We have had enough warnings about it in the Bible. Accountability does not mean we run roughshod over a person’s life but make sure that they repent and be responsible for their decisions.

#4. Expectationshttps://www.christianpost.com/news/big-bang-theory-spinoff-young-sheldon-scientific-explanation-why-god-exists-227884/

As the episode progresses, we see Sheldon’s overly protective and loving mother, Mary (Zoe Perry), who’s an evangelical Christian, battle with news she received that the teenage daughter of her friend was killed in a car accident.

Her pastor advised her to serve others as a way to get out of her grief. Mary also created a faith garden to pray outdoors to help her healing process, but when she finally made her supplication to God about the death of her friend she comes to a head with her sadness and spirals downward.

The woman of faith finds herself doubting why it would be in God’s plan for a young girl to die. She begins drinking, and stops praying at supper or even going to church.

We are not going to talk about science here. Science can help in producing evidence for God. That is a given. What we are going to address, is the issue of expectations that help undermine the faith of so many people. People have far too many bad expectations about God, life and how it all works together. They let these expectatios over-rule the lessons the Bible teaches. Then, when expectations are not met, they accuse God, blame him or attack for things he did not do.

They suddenly have a crisis of faith because life did not go as they expected it to. What is missing in all of this is the realization of the consequences our decisions have. Plus, people seem to want to go after God and forget evil’s role in life. It wasn’t God who gave them bad expectations, thus he should not be blamed for those events that contradict those thoughts.

People also seem to forget that having expectations about life and other people’s lives is not biblical teaching. There is not one word about it in scripture. Yes God makes promises but our expectations of receiving those promises cannot ignore any of the rules that God has laid out to receive them.  Then we must factor in that while God has granted us life, he has not granted long life to everyone. We must accept that reality.

One can avoid a crisis of faith if they take the time to examine their thoughts, feelings and expectations and see if they line up with biblical teaching. We need to protect our faith and put the blame where it belongs– with evil. Don’t question God when it is not God at fault.

 

Some Discoveries and News

#1. https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/inscriptions/2000-year-old-jerusalem-inscription/

2,000-Year-Old Jerusalem Inscription Bears City’s Name

For the first time, archaeologists have unearthed a Second Temple period stone inscription that spells the name Jerusalem as Yerushalayim (as it’s spelled in Hebrew today), rather than Yerushalem or Shalem. The inscription, dating to the first century B.C.E., reads:

Hananiah son of
Dudolos
of Jerusalem

The Jerusalem inscription, carved on a limestone column drum, was uncovered during excavations led by Danit Levy on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Binyanei Ha’Uma, a massive convention center in Jerusalem. The IAA press release announcing the discovery describes the inscription as Aramaic but written with Hebrew letters.

Read the rest at the link

#2. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/currentevents.aspx

All of the following reports in this section come from the above link

A.Archaeologists Discover Tomb of Fifth Dynasty Egyptian Official

The tomb of a prominent official in the Egyptian Court of the Fifth Dynasty was discovered in Abusir, just north of the Saqqara region in Giza. Archaeologists unearthed a large limestone and mud brick tomb with the name of the owner and his titles engraved on the walls. The official named “Ka Ir Is” was known as the “Supervisor of the King’s affairs,” “Secret Keeper of the Morning House,” and “His Master’s Beloved.” A large pink granite statue of the tomb’s owner was also discovered which portrays him seated on a small chair inscribed with his name and titles, and wearing a wig. According to biblical chronology, the tomb itself predates Abraham’s visit to Egypt (Gn 12:10) by a several hundred years.

B.Mt. Zion Excavations Unearth First-Century Mansion and Ancient Road

Archaeologists digging at Mount Zion have uncovered the remains of a priestly mansion dating to the first century AD, as well as an adjacent structure that dates from the Hasmonean era (late first century BC). The rooms of the mansion were well-preserved with ceilings despite the fact that it had been destroyed when the Romans took Jerusalem in 70 AD. Another important find was the discovery of an ancient road dating to the Byzantine era, if not earlier. The paved street had a central drain and may be a continuation of the famous Cardo Maximus street which extended across Mt. Zion

C.Excavations at Abel Beth Maacah Reveal Cultic Shrines

Archaeologists excavating at Tel Abil el-Qameh, identified as the biblical city of Abel Beth Maacah, continue to uncover evidence of cultic activity at the site spanning several hundred years. One structure, dating to the Iron Age I, had two standing stones, benches and fragments of a bull figurine. A series of later buildings included a room with standing stones, an offering table, a cylindrical cultic stand and plastered basins. Another discovery dating to the ninth century BC was a jar on a round podium filled with astragaloi (knucklebones) which were often used in divination. The most recent discovery was yet another shrine with unmarked standing stones. Excavators have suggested this site may be associated with the “wise woman” of 2 Sam. 20:18-19, who they propose may have served in the role of an oracle.

D.Submerged Church Honoring Council of Nicea Discovered

Aerial photographs commissioned by the government of the Bursa Province in Turkey revealed the remarkable outline of a church submerged in Lake Iznik, near ancient Nicea. It is located in only 10 feet of water, about 160 feet from shore. Archaeologists believe the church may have been built on the site of the former Senate Palace, where the first Council of Nicea took place in 325 AD. Underwater excavations have revealed several graves dating to the fourth century underneath the basilica’s main wall which included coins dating to the reign of Emperor Valens (364-378 AD). There is evidence that an earlier pagan temple to Apollo might lie beneath the church.

E.Over 1000 Clay Seals Discovered in Central Israel

A huge cache of clay seal impressions (known as bullae) was found at the ancient Hellenistic city of Maresha, located in the Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park. Archaeologists recently discovered seven previously unknown rooms in the cave complex of Maresha, including one that had 1020 untouched clay seals lying on the floor amidst broken pottery. An initial study of 300 of the clay seals suggest they date primarily from the second century BC and may have been part of a private archive. The delicate, unfired bullae depict images of various gods, such as Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite, as well as cornucopia, masks and animals. Only a few bore Greek letters and numbers, perhaps indicating dates; none of the seals in the initial survey had written inscription

F. Evidence of Aramean Destruction Unearthed at Biblical Gath

Archaeologists working at Tell es-Safi – biblical Gath – have released their first summary from the 2018 excavation season. This year they focused entirely on the lower city at the site, and unearthed significant evidence of the destruction by Hazael, King of Aram at Damascus in the ninth century BC. This confirms what is recorded in the Bible in 2 Kings 12:17: “About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem.” The remains of the siege system built around the site have been discovered, as well as evidence of defensive actions taken by the residents of Gath in attempting to use soil from the garbage dump to fortify and buffer the inside of the city wall against the Aramean forces.

G. Ceramic Pomegranate Discovered at Biblical Shiloh

The Associates for Biblical Research has announced the discovery of a ceramic pomegranate during the 2018 excavation season at biblical Shiloh. Shiloh was the center of Israelite worship and site of the tabernacle for over 300 years. The 20 cm-long pomegranate was unearthed in situ, and still had four of the five prongs intact. Pomegranates were common motifs in the Israelites’ worship at the tabernacle, having adorned the hem of Aaron’s robe (Ex 28:34; 39:26), and later in the first temple (1 Ki 7:17, 42). This discovery confirms the biblical description of Shiloh as a temenos (a sacred, dedicated precinct) early in Israel’s history.

H. New Study Suggests Whales Were Once Native to the Mediterranean Sea

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology), suggests that whales once swam in the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers from the Université de Montpelier used DNA barcoding and collagen fingerprinting to identity a collection of ancient whale bones from Roman and pre-Roman archaeological sites near the Strait of Gibraltar. The results indicated that the bones belonged to two species of whales: right whales and grey whales. Given the proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, the researches believe that the Mediterranean Sea was once a calving ground for these whales. Furthermore, they conclude: “The evidence that these two coastal and highly accessible species were present along the shores of the Roman Empire raises the hypothesis that they may have formed the basis of a forgotten whaling industry” some 2000 years ago. Biblical critics have questioned where a fish big enough to swallow Jonah in the Mediterranean Sea came from. While the Bible never calls the fish that swallowed Jonah a whale – it simply describes it as a “great fish” – the new study is evidence that whales were once native to the Mediterranean Sea

I. Another Stunning Roman-Era Mosaic Discovered in Lod

Excavators have unearthed another spectacular 1700-year-old mosaic in the ancient city of Lod (called Lydda in the New Testament). In 1996, the famous Lod Mosaic was discovered, and in 2014, another one was found in the courtyard of the same structure. At that time, the corner of a third mosaic could be seen, but it was under a parking lot. Now, four years later, that mosaic has been unearthed and is another stunning example of Roman-era workmanship. The house in which the mosaics have been unearthed is believed to have been a luxurious villa belonging to a wealthy Jewish merchant. Based on pottery and coins uncovered in the excavations, it appears the villa was in use from the first century AD to the late third or early fourth century AD. The new mosaic, like the others, depicts scenes of nature with animals and fish, but not people. Archaeologists hypothesize that this may be because of the Jewish belief in the divine prohibition against graven images.

There are plentyg links at that website to pursue each story if you want

 

 

The Lost Gospels

Our topic comes from the following link

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/christian-apocrypha-the-lost-gospels/

Christian Apocrypha: The “Lost Gospels”? Apocryphal texts and early Christianity

As you know, the term gospel means ‘good news’. Yet if something has been lost for 2 millennia, it certainly cannot be good news.It is bad news for if those recovered works were part of God’s word and instructions to us, billions of people would have died not having a chance to read them. God is a fair and just and has preserved his word throughout history. While every nation has not heard the word in each generation, that we know of, at least his word was available to all.

Which brings us to the topic of today. We will agree with the following quote:

Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in the fourth century C.E. that the Christian apocrypha—texts that refer to the life of Jesus and his followers that are not included in the New Testament—“are used to deceive the simple-minded.”

In the past 1800 years, there has been nothing to change that conclusion. These supposed lost gospels were lost for a reason- they were not the truth and not part of God’s inspired word. Yet that fact has not stopped some scholars from trying to promote these works and make them a part of Christianity. That is because they define Christianity so broad that cults and false religions are included in that category.

Gnosticism was not and is not a part of the Christian faith but to scholars, just because some Gnostic works included the word God, Jesus, the disciples an dother Christian words and content, these scholars have concluded they belong to the faith. Again, they are not correct in that assumption.

It was once believed that after the Church had determined the contents of the canon, all of these additional (noncanonical) texts were abandoned, hidden or destroyed

We do not know for sure if those false religious works were abandoned, hidden or destroyed. Just because the Nag Hammadi library was found in the dirt, does it mean such actions took place. Some may have been but with what we know of religious people, it is highly unlikely that these works failed to gain some sort of following or were kept unsold on the ancient bookshelves. As the Jehovah Witnesses’ prove, ancient cultic beliefs do not die out. They just find a new audience.

“Today scholars of the Christian apocrypha are challenging this view of the loss and rediscovery of apocryphal texts,” explains Burke. “It has become increasingly clear that the Christian apocrypha were composed and transmitted throughout Christian history, not just in antiquity.

Seems that some scholars agree with us, though we would not place their transmission or acceptance in the Christian history category. False beliefs do not die out when an era ends. If that were so Mormonism would have died out by the end of the 20th century, as would so many other false beliefs would.

Another modern “invention” has also aided in the scholarly understanding of the history of Christian apocrypha: archaeology. At Egyptian sites such as Oxyrhynchus and Akhmîm, archaeologists have unearthed texts or works that were previously known only from their mention by other ancient authors

We do not agree that the invention of the printing press sparked any flood of  new searches for ancient works. That idea just doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, archaeology has uncovered a host of ancient documents which would have sparked a very great interest in what the ancients had to say. BUT, this tool does not change the boundaries of what is Christian and what is not.

The bad identification of many ancient works by scholars and archaeologists have only served to confuse people, mislead them, and misrepresent Christianity. This is partially due to the fact that a majority of archaeologists and scholars have stopped believing in the Bible and God and seek their own ideas over the truth. They do not accept Peter’s or Paul’s warning that false teachers abound and have decided to make Christian what is not Christian.

It has become increasingly clear that Christianity began as a multitude of voices, each one declaring itself right and others wrong,” states Burke, who rejects the idea that these gospels were “lost” through intentional suppression by the “winning” tradition, the Roman Church

This is evidence for the above point. It is not clear that Christianity began as a multitude of voices. It began with only 1 voice– Jesus’. The other voices were like today. False ideas being passed off as truth in hopes of leading people to sin and destruction. We have no doubt that the ancient church soon filled up with many people calling themselves Christians but preaching a different gospel. Much like today, even the fundamental, evangelical and other true Christian churches are filled with these people.

It is not a multiple of voices leading to one voice. But one voice being distorted and changed into multiple voices for whatever reason they may have. One reason for this is that such people, like Joseph Smith, held a poor view of the people they were preaching to and saw them as a means to an end. Not as Christ saw them, people without a shepherd, needing the truth and good spiritual food.

Oh and the Roman Church was not the winning church. It was filled with the same type of people looking to get rich through religion. History has not been kind to those people who kept the faith and stayed away from the Roman church once it went astray from the truth. We must add that the Roman church of Paul’s and Peter’s time is not the same church as the one now known throughout history as the Roman Catholic Church. That denomination did not get started till about the 5th or 6th century AD.

All this leads Burke to conclude that the Christian apocrypha “were valued not only by ‘heretics’ who held views about Christ that differed from normative (or ‘orthodox’) Christianity, but also by writers within the church who did not hesitate to promote and even create apocryphal texts to serve their own interests.”

Here we have modern scholars trying to read long dead minds. If ancient writers in the church held those false works in high esteem, we would doubt their declaration that they were Christian. Of course, Burke does not differentiate between Christian and non-Christian so his general statement is quite misleading. The key words would be — “to serve their own interests”. That purpose would automatically disqualify those people from being in the Christian category unless they were just new or immature believers at the time.

A lot of the scholarly views concerning the ancient false texts we disagree with. We do not see many as forgeries. We see them as books that were more or less like historical fiction is today. Using the names and places of real people and cities while creating a fictional tale around it. Ben Hur, long thought of as a Christian movie, would probably fit this category.

When you look at what the scholars and archaeologists say about these texts, we have to consider the source. Are they believers? If they are, are they following Christ’s rules on academic and historical research or secular rules? Are they preaching a different gospel than what Jesus and the disciples taught?  Are the scholars lumping everything in the Christian category without reason to do so? Do they accept God’s boundaries on what is or isn’t Christian?

Are they bringing the good news or making the truth less divine and more earthly? There are more questions one can ask here. The thing is modern believers should not let themselves be tripped up when scholars and archaeologists use biblical or Christian terms. They have their own definitions, like cults, for those terms and because of their failure to follow God are far more inclusive than God is.

Christianity is defined by God and Christ, not by modern scholars or archaeologists. We must be discerning, as the Bible instructs, to avoid being swept away by false ideas disguised as Christian works. Th Bible as we have it today is the only work that is the gospel and Christian. Nothing has been lost or rediscovered since the biblical books were first penned.

 

Answering Mormon Questions 2

We are really going to cherry pick the questions this time throughout the remaining sections of that book;

#1. Why won’t you let your daughter to date a Mormon?

It isn’t just our daughters that would be banned from dating a Mormon, our sons would be too. The reason for this objection is that the Bible is very clear that unbelievers should not be unequally yoked together.  We would also extend that command to business partnerships and more. Mormons do not believe in the same God as Christians do thus they would be put in the unbeliever category despite their claims to having a religious faith.

#2. If God is a spirit, why did Moses say he saw God face to face?

When arguing against Christinaity, people can get very literal just to prove to themselves that they have justification for not believing in Jesus. Moses used a term we are all familiar with and understand its meaning very well without confusion. Moses was in God’s presence and the two talked together. They had direct contact with no intermediaries in between.

#3. Why do you believe in a God who would send his children to an eternal hell?

God is not sending his children to hell. He is sending those humans who have rejected his call to be saved. God’s children are not physical children he reproduced in some physical form like the Mormon’s believe, but those who have repented from their sins and accepted Christ as their savior.

#4. If there is no baptism for the dead what about all those who have died without having heard the gospel?

Paul answered this question in Romans 1. God has provided enough signs and wonders to show those who have not heard that he exists.He also put a desire in their hearts to know him. Sadly, that desire gets co-opted by evil and men and women get led astray to false teachings. Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone,by faith with grace. Once a person dies, faith is no longer needed. Reality sets in and the person’s chance for salvation is over. Baptism for the dead is a faulty theology giving false hopes to parents, children and others.

#5. Wouldn’t you like to have your marriage and family endure for all eternity?

This plea to the emotions is not well founded. First, off, how do the Mormons know that their families and marriage will endure for all eternity? They still haven’t shown one itoa of proof that their ideology is correct. Second, marriage is only for life on earth and marriage, while as good as it can be, is not the most important relationship we are to have. Our relationship with Jesus and God is more important.

Then when all family members are saved, they will get to be in heaven for all eternity.

#6. Why should a rational person trust in a Bible that has been corrupted?

The Bible has not been corrupted and anyone who says it has is calling God a liar and a failure. God promised to preserve his word for all time and if the Bible has been corrupted then God lied and failed to keep his promise. There are those throughout history who have sought to alter what the Bible says but Gd still preserves his word and we can find it today intact. We favor 3 versions, possibly 4, NASB, KJV, NIV 2011 and possibly the NKJV.

The only person who claims that the Bible had been corrupted was Joseph Smith. He did so without any evidence to support his claim.

#7. How do you account for Joseph Smith’s first vision?

This is very simple to answer. Smith was a known con man and even went to prison for it. His first vision was easily a lie or evil spirits appeared to him as an angel of light and deceived him. Given the fact that noone saw this vision, and no evidence exists to support it, we can dismiss it with ease.

#8. What about the other witnesses who claimed to see the golden plates?

There are several rebuttals to this question out there. First, most if not all of those witnesses later recanted their testimony. Second, it is not hard to trick some people into thinking they saw the golden plates. BUT the real question is, why were they taken back into heaven?  If they were so important to the Mormon faith and re-establishing the one true religion why remove them from earth?

People could study them and double-check Smith’s translation to see if he got it correct. The removal of the plates seems to be a strategy of Smith to keep people from learning the truth– that there were no golden plates and that he was lying to the people.

#9. What about the archaeology supporting the Book of Mormon?

There is absolutely no archaeological evidence supporting one word, one sentence, one chapter or one book of the book of Mormon. Also, there is no such thng as reformed Egyptian as Smith like to claim. Oh and you cannot even do an excavation on Mt. Cummurah (sp). The site of the big battle where hundreds of thousands of people from 2 societies Smith said fought and died there. It is fenced off and no one is allowed, including Mormon archaeologists, to dig there.

If the book of Mormon were true, then why can’t anyone dig at that site? why can’t we see the golden plates?

#10. Why do you have difficulty accepting Joseph Smith as a true prophet of god?

Because he wasn’t. There is no ancient faith like the Mormon ideology to be restored. There is no such thing as reformed Egyptian. There was no exodus to South America or Central America by Jewish people. There was no big battle in New York State. Also, Smith preached a different gospel than the one Jesus and the disciples brought. Smith is and was not of or from God.

Bonus question & answer

#11. Why would Joseph Smith be willing to die as a martyr if he didn’t believe God spoke to him?

There is no real evidence stating that he was willing to die as a martyr, or that he died a martyr’s death. He died in prison on other charges. He was not killed for his faith. There is also no evidence that Smith wanted to die as a martyr. He may have claimed it but saying and doing are two different things. He also was a con man and to keep the con going he had to act like the person he claimed to be. That does not mean he was the person he claimed to be.

 

Answering Mormon Questions

These questions come from the book of the same name found at

https://www.amazon.com/Answering-Mormons-Questions-Responses-Latter-day/dp/0825442680/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532313979&sr=1-1&keywords=answering+mormon+questions&dpID=51-BxjTE0uL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch#reader_0825442680

We are not promoting the book but cherry picking some questions we would like to answer. This post will answer the questions listed in the table of contents and found in the first two sections:  We have not read the book either so while our answers may reflect the same information in those sections, we arrived at ours independently from the authors and through our own studies. We may also change the order of the questions to fit our style  of  answering

#1. Why won’t you accept Mormons as Christians?

The answer to that question is actually very simple. The Mormons bring a different gospel than the one Jesus and the disciples brought. There is no biblical book or ancient manuscript attesting to Jesus and the disciples teaching what the Mormons teach. For the Mormons to be Christian, Jesus would have to be wrong.

#2. Do you think we are a cult?

Yes. Both Paul and Peter talked about false teachers and Mormons belong in that group. They are not teaching true biblical doctrine.

#3. Why won’t you let us define our own doctrine rather than telling us what we believe?

First, Mormons are free to define their beliefs any way they want. They have the freedom to believe what they want. Second, no one is telling them what they believe. What is being told them is that their doctrine is false and does not line up with scripture or history. Third, they should not expect any true Christian to accept their definitions because the Mormons distort biblical and Christian terms to appear to be Christian in nature.

#4. Aren’t evangelism efforts aimed at Mormons just another act of persecution?

Mormons may consider those strategies an act of persecution but they are not. They are attempts to bring the truth to the lives of Mormons and rescue them from sin and destruction. Perspective can distort intent and it is intent that is important. Persecution usually involves hindering of the practice of any faith and forcing people to stop following their beliefs, some times by force. Evangelism does none of those things. Evangelism strategies usually leave the choice up to the Mormons if they will continue to practice their faith or not.

#5. If Mormonism s wrong, why is it one of the fastest growing churches?

There are several verses that answer these question. Only a couple will be quoted here. First, men love darkness rather than light. Second, people want to hear what they want. Mormonism  is very appealing to the unwary and those who do not want the truth.

#6. What about the fruit of Mormonism?

What kind of fruit do you get when you teach nothing but false ideology, false doctrines and lie? It isn’t biblical fruit. This question also provides an example of the distorted use of biblical terms.

#7. Why do so many people equate our church to splinter groups when we no longer practice polygamy?

First, the dropping of the doctrine of polygamy was not done because it was wrong and sinful. It was dropped so Utah would be allowed by the secular government to become a state in the union. There was no true repentance of the practice of polygamy. Second, dropping the practice of polygamy does not mean the belief in it was dropped. Third, those splinter groups hold to most if not all Mormon doctrines save polygamy, thus they have not strayed very far from the Mormon tree.

#8. If Mormonism is not true, which church is?

If you want a specific denomination, then you would be out of luck. There are many good true christian churches and they belong to a variety of fundamental and evangelical denominations. There are Christians found almost everywhere. They are the true church. The following short list of points are found in their lives

  • The one that follows the Bible correctly,
  • The one that does not add additional scriptures to the Bible and call them sacred.
  • The one that truly believes God and obeys his word.
  • The one that does not compromise their beliefs for any reason.
  • The one that speaks the truth in love
  • The one that does not teach false doctrines
  • They do not lie one to another
  • They do not kill their wounded
  • and much more

#9. Didn’t the Bible predict the apostasy of the Christian faith?

No. it predicted that many people would fall away from the church and stop following Jesus and the truth. Mormonism would fall into that category and even if the Bible did predict the apostasy of the Christian faith, it did not indicate that the Mormon faith would be the next true one. If there is to be an apostasy of the faith, this does not mean that the Mormon beliefs are the correct ones to follow.

Also, the Mormon faith did not start till the 19th century. What about all those people who lived and died before that event? How fair and just is the Mormon faith? Since no one had access to the supposed golden plates or the Mormon doctrine for thousands of years what happens to those people who did not believe? Ceremonial baptisms done by Mormons cannot save billions of anonymous people who lived prior to Joseph Smith’s supposed revelation.

Also, why did the angel Moroni, the Mormon god and jesus wait for years between first contact with Smith and the revealing of the Mormon doctrine? How many people died during that gap? What will happen to them? Then since no ancient religion, extant mss., or any ancient inscription et al even refer to, hint at or mention the Mormon doctrine in their eras, it can only be concluded that Smith lied and there was no ancient religion waiting to be restored as the true faith.

#10. Why not just promote what you believe and not judge our faith?

First, we believe Mormonism is wrong so we can state that since that is promoting our belief. Second, saying a faith is wrong, teaching false doctrine and not of Christ is not judging that particular faith. It is describing its true nature. We are allowed to point out which faith is what jesus and the disciples taught and which one belongs to the category of false teaching.

#11. Why are your clergy members paid?

It is biblical. The Bible tells us that the worker is worthy of  his hire. God paid his priests maybe not with money but they got remuneration for their service. There is also no command or instruction in the Bible that Christian workers go unpaid and must be volunteers. Sadly too many Christians take advantage of clergy, missionaries and other christian workers by paying them too little or forcing them to raise their own support.

#12. Where do you get your authority?

From Jesus Christ.

We will stop there and will look thrugh the table of contents in that book to see if there are more questions that are important and need answering.

 
 
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