Messianic- Jewish- Gentile- b- 2013
1946 JEWS TEACHING SCIECNE- WHAT IS THIS?
I want to try and cover a little bit more on Einstein.
But just a few quick notes.
The last few days- as I have watched some of the post election coverage- I find it funny how the ‘4th estate’ has tried to rise above their own ignorance.
This past year- as I have both read- viewed- listened to many media sources- all sides of the various debates that go on in the country.
There was a conscious decision made- by some on the left- to ‘suppress the vote’.
I thought it was the Repubs that were trying to do this?
Yes- there were efforts made- whether noble or not- to suppress some of the minority vote [noble – some say they were just trying to stop voter fraud- others said they were trying to suppress the minority vote].
But- how did the left do this?
Once again- yes- hailing from the great state of N.J. [ the headquarters of many media outlets- it is sad that the most grievous offenders come from my hometown area! – Fort Lee- Secaucus- spots right where I grew up].
MSNBC spent an entire year mocking the faith of Romney.
I saw Martin Bashir- actually say- on air- that Christians should not vote for Romney because he denies the Trinity.
Can you imagine him saying this about a Muslim candidate?
Chris Matthews- he spoke about Romney and his religion as weird- a cult- and other interesting terms [Matthews says he was taken out of context- but simply using the word accomplishes the task].
Now- after a year of this- it is true that some White evangelicals [their target audience of suppression] did indeed not vote for Romney.
In media lingo they call this ‘failed to get out his base- the White vote’.
They see what they did as a noble cause- a good thing.
When you convince yourself that those who don’t embrace your ideas are racist nuts- then it justifies this double standard.
There was an article on Hillary Clinton seeing the Broadway play the Book of Mormon [yeah- Bloomberg manages to keep the lights on Broadway on- but watch out if you’re from Staten island or the Rockaway’s!]
When she came out of the theater she said it was so funny- she couldn’t stop laughing.
What was she laughing at?
The play is an open mockery of the Mormon faith.
Yet- this same state dept official- she was outraged over the release of some on line movie clip that depicted the prophet Muhammad in a negative light.
They just sentenced the maker of the movie to a year in jail- over some probation thing.
Yes- that’s the double standard of the media- politicians- it is quite obvious.
As I read a few chapters every few days- I want to comment on the important- relevant stuff.
One of them being the very word Relativity.
Now- I am tempted to go back and review all the posts we did on physics [you long time blog readers might remember?].
But this book is not a physics book per se’- but a biography.
Yet a quick review might help.
Einstein became famous for a few things- most of us know the famous equation E=mc2.
Simply a conversion of mass into energy formula- it works for all things- not just Nuclear.
His theory of Relativity shook up the world of physics- and Einstein is indeed the father of what we call modern physics [and Quantum theory].
Okay- what he did was he took the centuries old ideas of Newton [the father of classical physics] and he said that time and space were not absolutes.
That’s is- that depending on the observer [and his speed] time actually changes.
Some in the scientific community could not fathom what he was saying.
The book has actual headlines from the NY times- they openly doubted some of Einstein’s work
I remember reading this years ago- but this time I saw the real headlines.
They said stuff like ‘what is this new theory- that space might be limited- this defies the actual definition of space’.
Now- it would take too long to tell you what they were covering- but it is one of the various theories of the universe.
In actuality- the times might have been right in this one case [it’s a theory that the universe is curved- has no detectable edge- if so- you can than argue for an infinite universe in a closed space- because there is no edge- or end].
As a side note- logically- the times was correct.
Just because you can’t find a ‘sharp edge’ to a thing- that does not mean the thing is ‘endless’.
I covered this years ago in our apologetics posts- it was interesting to have re –read this from this author [Isaacson].
He is a good author- and explains stuff well.
Okay what was the other stuff that some objected to?
Some associated- wrongly- the theory of Relativity- with the modernist philosophy called Relativism.
Relativism [remember the philosophy stuff?] said that there was really nothing as objective truth- that what you see might be just as true as what someone else sees.
You might both be looking at the same thing [morally- murder- etc.] yet to one it might be wrong- to the other- right.
This idea- Relativism- was strongly rejected by many philosophers- especially those with a Christians/Theist background.
Even today this is one of the major debates going on in the world of the philosophy.
But- some confused what Einstein was saying- and they thought [or used it] to back up the ‘moral’ philosophy of Relativism.
This was a mistake.
Einstein himself- as I mentioned in an earlier post- was not a relativist at all- that is when speaking about moral absolutes.
So some began to associate him- as one of the new ‘Jew’ scientists- who were introducing dangerous doctrines to the world.
Yes- some of the objectors to Einstein objected on the basis of this new ‘Jewish science’ that was breaking away from the moors of Christian science- whose father was Isaac Newton.
See how both anti Semitism- and religious belief played a role in this?
I’ll end with a quote from a famous man of the time- an up and coming politician- I mean he could awe his audience like no other.
Obama- Clinton- even the great communicator- Reagan- were no match for this man when it came to giving a speech.
He said ‘Science- once our greatest pride- is today being taught by Hebrews’.
Who said this?
The future leader of Germany- Adolph Hitler.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1942 POLITICS AND EINSTEIN
Let’s start with the big story of the day.
Just a few things before I get back to Einstein.
As I have followed the news on this- over the past few weeks there has been some question on whether or not the media have manipulated any of the numbers.
Going in to today’s election- if the media are correct- Obama will no doubt win.
They have shown polls that have the president winning in enough states [battle ground states] that he should win.
Are any of the polls wrong- or possibly skewed?
That the question.
It’s hard to say that all pollsters would have some inside conspiracy to do this.
Actually I don’t believe that they would [they do have reputations you know].
But- we do have some actual evidence that some have done this.
It’s hard at times to filter out the bias- on both sides- but let’s try and take one example of possible skewing.
Most of the polls we have seen these past few weeks have shown the sample of people that they use.
For instance- you might have one say they polled a thousand folk- then they’ll say 39% were Democrats- 31 % Republicans.
Now- some on the right were saying ‘see- they are cheating’.
Would this be cheating in a poll?
Because the pollsters are trying to get an accurate picture of the electorate- that is- if they ‘think’ that more Dems will vote- then this would be a fair way to poll.
So- how do they figure out who the likely voters will be?
They usually look at the last election [presidential].
But- everyone who watches politics will tell you that the last election- 2008- had an historic turnout of Dem’s.
Many were not only voting for a man they felt would do a good job- but they also felt like they were part of an historic thing- the possible election of Americas first Black president.
Everyone [well most] will admit this- and it’s not wrong to admit this- that many came out to be part of an historic event- fine.
So- did some of the pollsters do this- did they use a larger number of Dem’s in the polls?
Now- a case can be made that you would not have the same type of turnout this time.
Because you don’t have the same historic significance- it’s not historic to say ‘yeah- we voted for the first Black president in history- the second time’.
Okay- but the pollsters do have a reason to have more Dems than Repubs- sometimes.
But- there were some polls that showed twice as many Dems [as a percentage- that is if you had 7% more Dems last time- this time they were showing about 14%- something that would be next to impossible].
So- yes- in this few cases- we do have some evidence that some pollsters were rigging the system to benefit one side.
Okay- said all that to say this.
If Romney wins- and big [which I doubt] then you just saw a good example of media bias- because according to most of the media- Obama should win.
Lets see what happens in the morning.
Okay- just a few notes on the Einstein biography I’m going thru.
The book is an older book- I picked it up a few months ago at half price books.
But it’s a good book- not written from a religious perspective at all- the author- Walter Isaacson- is a top notch writer.
The reason I say ‘not from a religious perspective’ is because it’s kind of amazing how many times Einstein- and his companions- either speak about God- or outright quote him!
Yeah- over the years I have heard views from both sides [Atheists and Theists] who have tried to make Einstein more like them.
But the actual quotes from him- and how many times they allude to God- is really more than I thought.
I’m at the point in the book [about halfway] where you begin seeing the anti Semitism rise up in Germany.
As most of you know- Einstein was a Jew- who came from Germany.
He lived at the time of the rise of the Nazi’s- and the anti Jewish ‘ness’ of the times would affect him.
Einstein held teaching positions at various universities of his day- one was in Berlin.
Some of his contemporaries- men like Max Planck- were indeed all in for the German nationalism that was riding a wave at the time.
Einstein on the other hand resisted the mixing of science with nationalism- he believed more in a global type citizenship- that the great breakthrough’s they were making at the time- were for the world- not just for the benefit of one nation.
Einstein would refuse to sign a declaration signed by many of the thinkers of his day- one that supported German nationalism.
Instead he was part of a smaller group who drew up a sort of pacifist declaration- one which would fall by the way side because of its lack of support.
A few notes.
I find his insight into war- where it ‘comes from’ to be enlightening.
I’ll give you a quote- it comes from “a biologically determined feature of the male character” “What drives people to kill and maim each other so savagely” “I think it is the sexual character of the male that leads to such wild explosions”.
Einstein saw a sort of genetic ‘defect’ in man- something within him- that was the root cause of war.
In the book of James- in the New Testament- the brother of our Lord writes ‘from whence come wars and fighting’s among you- come they not hence- even from your lusts that war in your members’.
Yeah- I think James and Einstein were on the same page.
Eventually Einstein would oppose the war- that is- the initial aggression that was sprouting from his homeland.
The book does not go into detail about the actual war [WW2] at least not yet.
But we know from history that the Nazi’s would be part of one of the most heinous mindsets the world has ever known.
Hitler’s idea that a certain race of people were inherently ‘less human’ that others.
Many do not know that some of his thoughts were formed by the popular idea of Evolution.
The teaching that all humans are on a scale of the ‘most evolved’ and the ‘least evolved’.
Yes- I have gotten into this in the past- and don’t want to do it again right now.
Eventually the allies would also cross a line of war- a line that divided the U.S. and the British for a short time.
The line of bombing urban centers- and targeting civilians.
Some of the correspondence that came out after the war showed that certain American military commanders objected to the bombing of civilian centers.
They would eventually do as they were told- but they did make their objections known.
The British were more willing to engage in the bombing- after all- Germany had already bombed them.
The first city center to go was Hamburg- a convenient target- right across from the British on the North Sea.
Above Belgium and the Netherlands.
War has a tendency to take all sides further than their conscience would allow at the start.
There seems to be something within the nature of man that always leads down a road of more destruction- not less.
One of the greatest minds of our time- a man who was brilliant- and also struggled with his own passions- saw it as some type of inner flaw of man.
A sort of ‘sinful nature’.
Yeah- James- the Lords brother called it ‘the lusts that war in our members’.
On this point they agree.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1940 WHY THE EXCITEMENT?
Okay- as promised let’s cover the gospel of Luke- chapter 15.
First- we had a good fellowship last night- cooked lots- and 4 guys spent the night crashed out on the floor.
I just saw Hugh on the way to my office room- he was eating left over chicken for B-fast.
This story- the Prodigal son- is famous amongst preachers/bible readers in general.
The chapter actually starts with 2 other stories.
A lost sheep- 1 out of 99.
And a lost coin- 1 out of 10.
Why these stories from Jesus?
The bible says Jesus was eating with- and ‘receiving’ sinners.
The religious leaders at the time developed their idea of serving God- as a ritualistic thing [remember yesterdays post- Isaiah 58?].
Part of their understanding of this service to God- was being separated from ‘the world’.
Yes- the world of Jesus’ day was much like ours- you had outcasts- ‘illegal’ aliens- and the overall class of people that couldn’t quite seem to make it in life.
Now- when the religious leaders saw Jesus accepting them- that is he received them- loved them- but at the same time never ‘whitewashed’ sin- they got mad.
He never said ‘oh- that’s fine- we all mess up- keep on doing it’.
No- in time they knew that Jesus was showing them the love of God- yet God had a better way for them- than the old paths of sin.
So- it’s because of this reaction from the Pharisees that Jesus tells these 3 stories.
A man has 100 sheep- he loses 1- and he goes after the lost one.
When he finds it- he’s so happy- not because he didn’t care for the 99 that stayed home- but because he regained one that went astray.
A woman has ten coins- she loses one- the same thing happens.
Jesus is telling them ‘look- all of you who are jealous that I’m accepting these non Jews- these Gentiles- your mad because I’m excited about these outcasts- but it’s just like when you guys lose a sheep- or coin- you react with joy because you regained something that was missing- that was supposed to be a part of the puzzle all along- that’s why I’m going after these outcasts’.
Then he tells the longest story of the chapter.
A man had 2 sons [in context- these are references to the Jews- Gentiles].
The one son asked his father for his inheritance and the father gave the money to both the sons.
After a while the younger irresponsible son goes and wastes all the money on partying.
He becomes broke- realizes what he did- and repents and heads home to his father.
His father sees him coming and rejoices- he accepts the son- throws a huge party for him- gives him this nice robe- puts a ring on his finger- and all is well.
As the party is going on- the older son- the one who never left home [a type of the Jew who saw themselves as part of Gods people all along- they never had left God- not like these ‘dog’ Gentiles- see?]
This older son is outside- sulking.
The father goes out to see what’s wrong- the older son says ‘look dad- I was with you all these years [a type of the Old Covenant- the Jewish people had a long history with God] and you never acted excited like this with me- making a big party- killing the calf- the whole thing’.
The dad [a type of God] says ‘son- you were always with me- all hat I have is yours- don’t take my excitement wrong- it’s not because I don’t love you- but it’s because your brother was gone for a long time and finally made it home’.
That’s the story of the Prodigal son- God was just as excited about regaining a lost human [the Gentiles]- as we are about regaining things we lose.
The story deals with jealousy in the human heart- how we often benefit from the blessings of God- yet we feel wronged somehow if others too get the blessing.
These themes run thru out the teachings of Christ- talking about us receiving forgiveness- yet not giving it to others.
In the 1st century context- the Jewish people saw themselves as part of this special covenant that God made with them many years earlier.
They kept this covenant- as best as they knew- and when they see their Messiah- accepting these others who were like the younger son- they felt wronged.
They felt like all their years of being with God- as Gods special people- were for nothing.
That’s the mindset Jesus was dealing with here.
If I had more time/space- I would make a few applications about the current situation with the storm.
Some are mad at Governor Christie- he’s buddying up too much to Obama in the view of some on the right.
It’s not exactly the same- but there are side’s people take- there are jealousies and divisions with all of us.
And it helps us if we can sit back and examine what’s really going on- Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.
When we examine ourselves- do a self inventory- maybe we should be happy that others are getting help- that we should not see it as us losing out in some way- whether it be politically or any other way.
In the end- there was enough mercy to go around- the father was happy that the lost son was found.
Just like we get happy when we recover things.
It doesn’t mean that the things that never got lost hold less value [99 sheep- 9 coins].
No- its juts a natural reaction to be excited that something that was lost- that seemed like it had no hope- was recovered.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1939 THE MORE IMPORTANT STUFF
Today we are going to do an ‘all nighter’.
A few months ago I started a new thing- I invited a few of the homeless guys over to the house [actually that’s not new].
But I cooked a good meal for them and let them crash out on the floor for the night.
Over the years I have had a few friends spend the night- but not on a weekly basis.
So- I fixed up a room for them- and tonight they will use it.
Before the weeks out [I guess that means in the morning?] I will try and write a post on Luke chapter 15.
I at least want to cover one bible chapter a week.
But let me just make a few notes today.
For those of you who are not familiar with ‘our ministry’- the whole basis of what I do could be summed up from Isaiah chapter 58.
In a way it’s an encapsulation of the whole intent of the Judaic law.
Actually that will fit in with tomorrows post.
In the Old Testament prophets we read many times where God rebukes the Jewish people [called the People of God under the old covenant].
And he says time after time ‘I don’t want your religious ritual- I want your heart- I don’t want to know how good your are at making animal sacrifice- I want you to sacrifice by loving your neighbor’.
These themes are found all thru out the prophets.
Now- in the New Testament we see the same thing with Jesus.
He says ‘you tithe and do all types of religious stuff- yet you have left out the more important matters- love and mercy’.
Jesus truly fulfills his prophetic role by defending the poor and speaking ‘truth to power’.
I see the role of the church- the main job of Christians- as one where we are not building religious empires- where we are not all about getting a lot of money to ‘reach the world’.
But where we are to live- as best as possible- the new command that Jesus left us.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart- soul- mind and might- and your neighbor as yourself’.
That’s the crux of the matter.
So- today I will go down to the mission and invite about 5 or so friends.
We will pick up some food for the ‘party’ [I got paid last night!]
We will come back to the house- hang out- share what’s been happening- eat- and then crash for the night.
Now- don’t be fooled- we will talk much about Gods will- the guys always wind up bringing it up- it’s a natural part of fellowship.
There will be no drinking or smoking [pot].
Yeah- the guys will smoke cig’s.
But all in all they know the rules- and they abide by them.
Last week Michael- the street artist I have written about over the years.
Mike is a great painter- and right now he works as a cook at one of the local buffets.
He came over just for a few hours with some brothers- and later he told me that was one of the best times he has ever had.
We did nothing- but hung out.
Many street people live lives of quiet desperation.
I see them every day- they go thru their routines- they know each other by name- but yet they rarely interact this way- that is just getting together without it being a drug induced party.
And when they do get together like this- it helps them.
The other day I was talking to Joe- a friend I have known for 20 years.
Somehow he brought up the name Tom.
I asked him ‘do you mean the Tom that hit the 100 thousand dollar lotto ticket a few months ago’?
Yeah- one of my good friends hit the Texas lotto thing- a scratch off- and won big.
He bought 2 Harleys and a bunch of stuff.
I posted the pic on my site- you probably would find it under the Photo album named ‘homeless 2012’ [Face book site].
As I mentioned Tom- the Harley guy.
Joe told me ‘no- not him- he’s my biological brother’.
I have known both of these guys for 20 years- have seen them on the streets- at the mission- all over.
Yet I never knew they were related- actual brothers.
It’s easy for the guys to live their lives- to pass by each other- and never really have fellowship- a good time where they all get together and have fun- without getting drunk- without getting high- just eating good food and knowing that we are doing it as a ministry/friendship thing.
I simply spend my money on the stuff- I take no offerings for it- imagine if we all did stuff like this? [I know many others do- but most Christians don’t see this as a regular part of the Christian experience].
If people all over the world did this on a regular basis.
Then if you had all the church people doing it- then you wouldn’t need to raise a million to do ‘Gods work’.
It would be getting done thru the small sacrifices that each of us make on a daily basis.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians and said ‘he that is not working- get a job- so you can have to give to those in need’.
No tithe here?
Not pouring it into a huge ministry budget?
No red tape?
Yeah- the New Testament [and old- Isaiah 58] teach us to actually use our resources to reach out- directly- to the poor and hurting.
Read the epistle of James- or the letter’s of John.
This teaching is not a side issue- it’s one of the main things.
As a matter of fact- that’s why the prophets of the Old Testament- and Jesus in the New- kept rebuking the religious people of their day- because they knew how to keep the religious rituals.
But they forgot the ‘more important stuff’.
1936 EINSTEIN THE DETERMINIST.
In keeping with the last post [propaganda] I read an interesting AP article on Syria.
As most of you know Syria has been in a civil war for many months- they are the 1st ‘Arab spring’ nation that has not ‘fallen’ to the rebels.
Now- there are lots of political things going on in the region [Russia and China not supporting a Libyan style NATO action] that are sustaining Assad’s regime.
But I found it funny how the western media have chosen to portray the war.
In order for the media to side with those who want to depose Assad- they must ‘side’ with the ‘deposers’.
So- the article spoke about the outside Al Qaeda groups who are coming in to assist the rebels.
It used terms like ‘heroism’ ‘valor’ ‘experienced fighters who know what they are doing’.
These terms were used to describe Al Qaeda fighters- in contrast to Assad- a ‘crimes against humanity’ description.
Wow- I never thought the media would actually try and honor Al Qaeda fighters- in order to accomplish their agenda.
That my friends is the ultimate in propaganda.
Okay- I read some more on Einstein over the weekend- and wanted to cover a few things.
Over the years as you read various sources about famous folk- you need to be aware of the source.
For instance- Christian writers [writing from that perspective] often portray the religious tendencies of a figure in a more favorable light then an atheist writer would.
So you have to be careful that the author is not writing his own story into the person he is covering.
But the biography I’m reading was not written from a religious view.
Yet- the author does share the various positions Einstein has taken about God over the years.
One thing to note is Einstein was a lover of philosophy- he admired men like Hume, Kant and Spinoza.
If you remember- a few years ago I covered the history of philosophy and how much of it dealt with what the causes of things are.
The law of Cause and Effect [also referred to as causality].
As a Physicist- Einstein had a great interest in these subjects.
At the end of the day- Einstein fell into a camp of thinkers called Determinists.
That means he believed that that the universe was ruled by definite principles- even though we did not have the answers to all the puzzles- yet he was convinced that if we searched long enough- we would find order to it.
This belief is in keeping with Theistic thinkers- not with those who ascribe chance and disorder to the creation.
I might have bitten off a little much here- but the point is- at the end of the day Einstein rejected the commonly held belief that there is no real cause to the things we see.
Many thinkers who argue against the existence of God argue form a perspective that chance is behind the ‘perceived’ design we see in nature.
Dawkins [the famous atheist] calls it ‘the appearance of design’.
Einstein did not simply believe in the ‘appearance’ of design- but he believed that the Cosmos was indeed a product of some type of cause that gave it design.
Now- I’m not saying Einstein was a Christian [or observant Jew]- but the point is- in his thinking- he rejects the most commonly held arguments that are made against the Theistic world view [in Cosmology- science] and sides with the Christian thinkers of our day.
Einstein famously said ‘God does not roll dice’ meaning he did not believe in the atheistic argument that things just happen without any cause.
No- Einstein seems to agree with one of his favorite thinkers- Spinoza said ‘All things are determined by the necessity of Divine nature’.
Yes- Einstein was a Determinist in his thinking- he did indeed side with the Theists at the end of the day.
1931 A PLACE CALLED REST
When I get up in the morning- I spend about an hour or so praying/meditating before I write.
I get the entire ‘message’ during this time.
This morning- in my mind- I saw a sort of panoramic view of all of church history- quite a message for a short post.
I also felt like covering the history of Judaism during the time of Christ- another long subject.
I think the main reason for these themes popping up is because I have been reading some in the book of Hebrews- and I want to cover Hebrews 4.
But- let’s try the other stuff and see if we can get it in.
In the early days of the church- in the 4th century- we had the rise of the Roman emperor/military ruler- Constantine.
Part of the achievements of Constantine was his development of the eastern half of the Roman empire- whose capitol was named after him- Constantinople.
Over a period of years the early Roman church fought over whose bishop would have more influence- the bishop of Rome [Pope] or the bishop in the east.
Many bishops in the Catholic Church have disagreed over the influence of one bishop being greater than the others [the idea that all the bishops should have an equal voice at the church councils is called Collegiality].
This has caused splits within the Catholic Church thru the centuries [the last big one in the 19th century].
Eventually the early church split- and the Eastern Church separated from Rome.
The eastern empire [called Byzantium- the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church] officially split in the year 1054.
Now- in church history we call this the Great Schism- even though the Protestant split which took place in the 16th century was greater in effect.
Okay- the Protestant reformers split over various issues- I have an entire study on the blog about this.
But the main issue became what we call justification by faith.
Over the centuries many good men- and average church goers- lost the main message of the New Testament- which was a message of being saved by the grace of God.
Many well meaning Christians were struggling to do penance in a way that sort of earned them their salvation thru works.
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther was teaching the book of Romans [he was a scholar and a Catholic leader in intellectual circles at the time].
During his teaching on the epistle of Paul [Romans- in our bible] he came across a verse that said THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.
As he mediated on the passage- and the other themes in Romans that speak about being saved by faith and not by works- he started a sort of mini revolution amongst the students and he became a sort of favorite teacher in the area of Germany where he was teaching.
Over a period of time- thru all sorts of religious and political machinations- he launched what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
Okay- Hebrews 4.
How does this fit in?
In Hebrews 4- the writer is appealing to a first century Jewish audience who were steeped in a legalistic mindset.
That is- in many ways- they were like the Christians of the 16th century who lost the idea of grace- and were seeking to please God thru the works of the law.
The writer tells them that thru the appearing of the Messiah- Christ- we can enter into a new type of covenant- one based on rest.
He says ‘those who have entered into Gods rest have ceased from their own works- as God did from his’.
Okay- there’s a lot to unpack here- and time is running out.
The writer uses the creation account in Genesis chapter 2- where the bible says God created the world in 6 days- and on the 7th day he rested.
He symbolically says ‘there is a place- called Gods ‘rest’ that we too must enter into’.
He’s using an analogy- God rested from his works on the Sabbath day- so we too must strive to enter into this Sabbath rest [a type of the New Covenant- established on the death and resurrection of Christ].
If you read the chapter- you should be able to pick up this main theme- the main point he is making is because Jesus has come and become the final Passover sacrifice for the sins of man- therefore the Old law- with all of its sacrifices and demands- has now been fulfilled thru Christ.
We sit ‘at the table’ with the other disciples- the Lords table- and we freely partake of the Body and Blood of Christ- and by faith we receive eternal life- not by the works of the law.
See- this is the whole point.
Thru out the centuries Christians have lost this sense of free grace- this reality that we come to God by faith- not based on how good we have been- how hard we have tried to obey the law.
No- we come to God- Boldly [Hebrews] ‘because we have a great high priest who is now in heaven- seated at the right hand of God’.
Jesus represents us to God- he is before the throne of God interceding [praying] on our behalf.
It is no longer a matter of our effort- our striving- no- we are truly saved by grace.
1920 SHEEP FROM ANOTHER FOLD
One of the challenges on this journey is I have friends/family who have hearing problems.
My dear mom has a hard time hearing- and it’s natural to talk loud.
You think because it’s difficult for you to hear- that to talk loud will somehow help the hearer as well.
I have a homeless friend who has been legally deaf his whole life.
He has learned how to talk low- on purpose.
I was telling my friend Patrick that this homeless friend also likes to dominate the conversation- he will talk- nonstop- literally for hours.
To be honest- I don’t mind- or lets say I realize that it helps him- so for 20 years I have had lots of talks [or should I say ‘hearings’] with him.
Okay- so as I’m sitting at my mom’s house yesterday- everyone is out- and I figure ‘wow- some quiet time- let’s make the most of it’.
Well- let’s at least try.
My phone rings- it’s a Texas number ‘what the heck- might as well get it’.
I usually never answer my phone unless it’s a number I recognize.
I get it- it’s my deaf homeless friend on the line- yelling ‘hey John- I can barely hear you’.
So- this is my buddy stuck in the forest in Texas- his girlfriend left him there [remember the last 5 posts?]
Anyway- he does not know I’m in Jersey- none of my homeless buddies know- I had no plans to have left the day I left- so no one knows.
So- as Dirk’s on the phone- telling me ‘I can’t hear you- you’re breaking up’.
I keep saying- well- yelling ‘I’M IN NYC [that’s really the spot- N.J. – right on the Hudson] I CAN’T TALK RIGHTT NOW’.
He keeps telling me he can’t hear me- but says ‘well- I can’t hear- but I guess I’ll just talk anyway’.
No- no- don’t guess that- not today!
I finally got thru and told him I’ll talk whenever I get back to Texas.
Okay- the journey has been interesting so far.
Whenever I drive cross country [or south to north] I enjoy reading the different ‘church’ names along the way.
You can see the development of Christianity across the country- by reading the signs.
As somewhat of a church historian- when I see the signs- I remember the times I read about the various movements.
Some church signs show the debate over the Trinity ‘Pentecostal oneness church’- they emphasize the divinity of Jesus a lot.
‘Pentecostal Trinity church’- they are saying ‘we are not the other guys’.
Of course you see the standard Baptist churches- the Methodist regions as well.
Over the years all of these groups have come to emphasize various teachings of Christianity.
As I headed further north- of course I come to my ‘homeland’- and I see the great catholic churches- the ones I remember from my youth [sort of like crossing the Tiber in a way- for you non intellectuals- google it].
It’s a sort of spiritual lesson- this past week- as well as the coming months- the Catholic church is going to focus on Vatican 2- the last church council.
This council [a meeting of all the catholic leaders/bishops] emphasized Ecumenism- for the first time the church recognized the various Christian churches- you know- all the ‘signs’ I saw on the road- as ‘separated Christian brothers’.
It was a big step for the church- a step of unity- based on the desire of Christ we read about in the gospel of John- chapter 17 ‘that we all would be one’.
In my talks these past few days- and my bible reading in the gospel of John- a theme kept popping up.
The Lord has been telling me to ‘shepherd all the people I bring to you- all those who are on a spiritual journey’.
In John’s gospel the message- at least to me- is to do my best to present the pre-imminence of Christ- that he is the source of salvation- and to recognize that there are also ‘sheep- not of this fold that he will bring’.
Now- in context Jesus was speaking about the Gentiles- the ‘non- Jews’ who would convert.
In the ‘broader’ context- I am taking it as being open to the other Monotheistic faiths.
So- I have good talks with Muslims [and have even shared some good things about Islam- yes- there are good things- with fellow Christians].
My mom told me ‘John- do you know who died’.
Sandy is a nice Jewish lady who lived right up the block from me when I was a kid.
I was friends with her son.
She became a Facebook friend a few years back.
I am always grateful when I make Jewish/Muslim friends on the site.
When I first friended Sandy- we talked some.
Then I noticed one time- we didn’t talk much [you know- when you write a lot- people are going to get offended at one time or another].
So- when I did not see her comments- I figured she got upset about some post.
But then one day- about a month ago- I saw some action form her page- I forget what it was- but I saw that she came back to read the posts.
Then- well- she passed on.
When my mom told me that she died- I said ‘are you sure’.
I went to Sandy’s page- and there was no indication that she died.
So I left a little note to tell my friend good bye.
Yes- I’m grateful for ‘the other’ sheep if you will.
The other friends of mine who are on a spiritual journey.
I’m grateful for all the ‘separated brothers’ those various Christian churches who are now seen as brothers in Christ.
Make no mistake- as a Christian I believe that Jesus is the Son of God- who died- was buried- and rose again ‘according to the scriptures’.
I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the resurrection of the dead- the forgiveness of sins- and life everlasting.
I also believe that in this life God will bring to us others who are on a journey as well- and maybe for a time these people might be on a different path- maybe they do not see everything like I do.
But when these contacts are made- do your best to try and see them as ‘others who are not from this group’ but others whom God has brought your way- at least for a season.
NOTE- One sign I liked was on the side of this huge gun store ‘GUNS- GUNS- GUNS- JESUS IS LORD’.
1907 IS THE GOSPEL REALLY THE ANSWER?
Of course today we remember those who died 11 years ago.
We pray for the families and friends.
I find it strange that I recently stumbled into some of the verses in Revelation- that deal with nations and systems that war against each other.
It’s almost unbelievable to realize that in the last presidential campaign- you had someone on the Repub platform- talking about the ‘real reason’ 9-11 happened.
I mean comedians got raked over the coals for this- and others fumbled and fell into a great trap by even wading on the water’s edge.
Ron Paul often spoke about the mindset of radical Islam
Paul was the libertarian candidate who ran on the Repub ticket.
He spoke about the mindset that led to the terror attack on 9-11.
Now- in no way do I justify anything like what happened.
But it is important to see the underlying grievance that the radical wing of Islam harbors.
We often hear that the reason for the attack was ‘they hate our freedom’.
Was that the reason?
If you actually read the writings of the radicals- they believe they are indeed in a ‘holy war’.
They see the encroachment of the West- our ‘values’ [last post] and our ‘occupation’ of their holy lands as the grievance.
If you think back- the first real attack against the west was the bombing of the Kobar towers in Saudi Arabia.
This was the first one [that I recall] that was a direct act of what we call Al Qaeda.
The movement started by Osama Bin laden.
They saw Saudi Arabia as their holy land- and the towers were the U.S. base in the land.
Okay- am I justifying the attack?
No- just want you to see the mindset.
Then- the attack on the World Trade center.
The radical mind believes that to hit the ‘occupier’ in her homeland is a justifiable response because we have been engaged- many times- in Arab/Muslim lands- militarily.
I had a talk with a friend the other day- we were discussing these issues.
I told my friend that Christianity- and Judaism- have had their own ‘reformation’ of sorts.
Both religions have come to a place where they see the separation of church and state- that is- they are able to distinguish between religious belief and acts of war.
Now- there are critics of Christianity who still accuse the church of wanting to have a theocracy [church ruled state].
But for the most part- those who believe this [reconstructionist’s] are far and few in between.
But- Islam has not yet had her ‘reformation’ moment.
Now- as a blogger who has Muslim, Jewish and Christian readers- my goal is not to offend anyone- nor to skirt the real issues.
There are many fine Muslim people- who do indeed reject the entire mindset of radical Islam.
But- in the actual debates that go in within the religion- there are many who still believe that force- along with reliogus expression- is acceptable.
Islam is not only a ‘religion’ per se- but it is also a way of government.
Now- like I said- during the history of the church- obviously the same thing happened.
I mean any person who studies the rise of Western civilization- the arts- science- history- I mean the church is the major player on the board- hands down.
But- today most Christians see their role as more of a spiritual one- yes- being active in politics- voting- yes- we do have a voice at the table.
But we don’t- for the most part- want to take up an armed resistance against the world.
So- those who adhere to radical Islam- they see their struggle- well much like the last post- a Che type of thing.
I think the future depends- not on us killing all the radicals- no- this can never be fully done.
The mindset lives on in the flowing generations.
No- the answer is in learning mutual respect for each other’s beliefs and cultures.
Now- I’m’ not saying ‘let’s try and understand the poor terrorist’.
But I am saying that we in the West do need to see the root cause of why terrorism happens.
In a little while I will be going to visit John David in the ICU.
John is the friend I have written about over the years.
He was a coke addict for many years- got clean about 2 years ago.
I have pictures of him and his brother on my face book site.
We were having a fellowship at the house and did the Lords Supper.
John had heart surgery yesterday- and I will be taking his brothers Hugh and Andy to see him.
The other day I found a few packets of seeds at the house- the type you plant in the vegetable garden.
Don- the street guy who maintains the garden at the mission- he asked me one day if I could get him some.
I mean he plants that garden from scratch [see the pics on face book].
I gave them to him- he was elated- over seeds!
One day- about 10 years ago now- I was sitting at the fire house- actually it was soon after 9-11.
The fire depts. were on high alert- we had things we were to watch out for- stuff that we never worried about before.
So one day- sitting at the station- may Captain says ‘hey John- go see what the Muslim wants’.
Sure enough- some guy- dressed for the part- was walking around the fire trucks.
This station was right by A&I university [now A&M].
So- we used to keep the doors open all day [not any more] and people could walk in if they wanted.
So I went outside- the guy was just checking all the emergency vehicles out.
He told me ‘I’m doing research for a school project’.
As I talked with him- we got into ‘religion’ and I covered the history Of Christians and Arabs.
I traced back to Abraham- went into the story of his sons [Arabs trace their roots to Abraham’s son Ishmael]
And when I was done- I told him the true purpose of God- to redeem all nations of the earth.
That God loves the Arab- the Persian [we often mistake Persians for Arabs].
That he loves all people- and he sent his Son to die for all of humanity.
To my surprise- he told me he has never- not once- heard this story.
His view of Christianity- the west- the entire mindset- was shaped by world events.
He did not distinguish between Christianity and the actual Govt. of the U.S.
He- like many others- view the entire ‘struggle’ as a struggle for who will ‘rule the world’.
In my time with him- I tried to show him a better way.
No- I am not advocating passivism.
I’m not saying if we simply try to understand the terrorist- the he will go away.
But I am saying- in some cases- these people have never really heard the message.
In some cases- like the Apostle Paul said ‘satan has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe’.
In some cases- the Good News [gospel] is really the answer.
1905 DID THE JEWS KILL CHRIST?
Kinda want to try and wrap up for the week- maybe one more post in the morning?
I posted some pics of the street guys yesterday- want to make a few comments.
I like taking the pics and posting them right when I’m with the guys- I’ll tell them ‘hey- right now your pics are going to the site’- they love it.
I also want to wrap up a few final points about the church- and the 2 extremes that she strayed into over the centuries.
In the last few posts we have been discussing the over emphasis on natural Israel- the promises of God- found in the Old Testament- concerning the restoration of the land- the re-building of the temple- stuff like that.
The church also has a sad history of anti Semitism- racism against Jewish people.
To our Catholic friends- the church has tried to deal with it in the last 30 years or so.
The present Pope- Benedict- who I do like [I have read his books] got into some trouble a couple of years ago.
It was a noble attempt to try and heal some long time divisions within the church.
It has been said when the Protestants disagree with something- they go out and start their own church.
When Catholics disagree- they start their own order.
I like that- funny- and true.
So- part of the Catholic divisions is the older type churches- the ones who rebelled against the noble reforms of Vatican 2 [The last church council- held between 1962-65].
Within the Catholic Church there are disagreements over what the council was trying to do.
Liberal Catholics believe the church was trying to trend into a more liberal institution.
Conservatives say that’s a misreading- that the church still held to her conservative roots- and was simply trying to be more Ecumenical.
Either way- one of the results was the more traditional type churches- sometimes called Tridentine [the ones who prefer the old Latin Mass].
These churches kind of split off from Rome and have been worshipping using the Latin mass [which was originally a violation of Vatican 2].
Vatican 2 said the Mass should now be done in the vernacular- the language of the people.
So- Benedict made a noble attempt to bridge this division- and he allowed for the Tridentine churches to do the Mass in Latin- and he also restored an old prayer- about the Jewish people- which simply said we pray for the conversion of Jews.
Okay- was this a big thing?
To simply say Christians are praying for the conversion of Jews- is that real bad?
In my mind- not a big thing.
Might it offend some of our Jewish friends?
But that’s the tradition of the church- to want people to come to belief in Christ.
But- because of the history of anti Semitism- this became a big thing.
‘How dare you pray for our conversion’ type thing.
So the church has had to grapple with how she looks at the Jewish people.
Historically- there were times of persecution of the Jews.
Most of us are familiar with the inquisitions.
The ones in Spain did ‘force’ the Jews to convert- and there were ‘inquiries’ made to see if the Jewish people really converted.
Some were put to death during this time.
During the protestant Reformation of the 16th century- out of Germany- which was Martin Luther’s home country.
There were anti Semitic writings penned by Luther.
Some of these writings were later used- in Germany- under Hitler- to justify anti Semitism.
Very sad history.
Now we have the ‘over emphasis’ [in my view] of the role of natural Israel- and the End Times [last couple of posts].
So- as you see- we have been to both sides of the aisle on this.
Why did anti Semitism play a role in the church?
Understand- we have bibles- that as Christians we accept as the Word of God.
There are also statements in our bibles- well- to be honest- might not have been written the same way- the same style- if we ‘re-wrote’ them today.
Bare with me a moment.
When the Mel Gibson’s movie came out- the Passion of the Christ- the criticism was he stuck very closely to the bible text- and it was indeed a violent crucifixion.
The writings of the apostle John specifically talk about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
There are other themes like this in our New Testament.
It’s not hard to see how these statements could lead to anti Semitism.
One of the things that the Pope recently clarified- which I absolutely agree with- is that when we read these things in our bibles.
We should not read them as saying ‘all Jews- of all times- are responsible for the death of Christ’.
In the bible story- the Jewish leaders conspired with the Roman govt. to ‘kill Christ’.
Many [all] of the original believers in the Messiah were indeed Jewish.
And the ‘anti Semitic’ statements in the New Testament were written by Jews- who were simply saying that they believed that some of their Jewish brothers were missing the boat by not accepting Jesus as the Messiah who was to come.
Okay- as you can see- we- the church- have a long history with this.
I would like to make one last comment before we close our talks on this.
For many years- as a bible teacher- writing- doing radio- etc.
It never dawned on me how these statements can indeed be offensive to our Jewish friends.
I mean say if you read ‘the Italians killed Christ’ or the Germans- etc.
That would indeed be problematic if you were trying to get your kids to read the bible.
The same thing with our references to the Arab world.
There are verses- in the Old Testament- that talk about Syria- Iraq [Babylon] and other Arab/Persian nations as the ‘enemies of God’.
So- when we use our bibles- in the modern day- it’s vital to understand that today- the kingdom of God is not about natural borders- or ethnic backgrounds.
It’s about Christ’s new kingdom- the kingdom of God.
All nations and races are welcome- we do not discriminate.
And we- as the church- do confess our sins against our Jewish friends- against our Arab friends- yes- we confess.
In the heated political environment of our day- the post 9-11 world- it’s hard to avoid animosity- and at times- hatred- towards others.
But we- as the people of God- should strive for forgiveness and unity- at least unity as people who live in a global society.
Yes- maybe we- as preachers especially- should re-think how we phrase things.
Yes- there are out and out statements in the bible about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
But in context- it would be wrong to put this on all Jews of all times- and if we ‘adjust’ the way we say these things- I think God would be well pleased.
1904 JERUSALEM DIVIDED?
I want to pick up a little from the last post- but I also got with the street guys yesterday and maybe will make a few comments.
Yesterday we talked about the first century context of the Jewish people- as it relates to the Messiah.
That is the Jewish nation was waiting for centuries for the promised one who would come and deliver them.
Jesus showed up on the scene and claimed to be the One.
The early followers of Jesus- all Jews- did not fully grasp the spiritual nature of Gods kingdom.
He would teach them principles about the kingdom that seemed to go against the flow of normal life.
‘The last shall be first’
‘He that dies shall live’
‘You have heard an eye for an eye- but I say love your enemies…’
All these principles were showing them that the Kingdom that Jesus was talking about was a spiritual kingdom- that would also affect the world as we know it- but at its heart it was not about material stuff.
Okay- now- the Jewish people at the time of Christ were wanting a national deliverance- they were pre-occupied with getting free from the rule of Rome- and their hopes- like many people today- were tied up in the advance of their nation- their people.
But you have the writings of the early apostles talking about this new kingdom- where Jesus died for all people [Jews and Gentiles] and he ‘reconciled both [groups] unto God in One Body on the Cross’. [Ephesians]
So- your getting a different picture here- Paul the Apostle is saying that we are all now part of this new community of God- he says ‘we are now partakers with the Jewish people- we are this new commonwealth’.
The actual teaching- from the bible- is very advanced for its time.
I mean if you think about it- these words were written 2 thousand years ago- and they speak about relations between groups that the modern church seems to miss.
When we- in our day- appeal to the Old Testament verses about God giving land to Israel- and we couch all of our ‘end times’ preaching in scenarios that have one side killing the other- or when Western Christians visit the ‘Holy Land’- talking about the staging of the final ‘assault’ [Armageddon] and how many Arabs [Muslims] will be slaughtered by a Jewish army- lead by Christ- I mean do we really realize what we are saying?
I just read Revelation chapter 4- and it had nothing to do with this post- but as a side note it said there was thing angel flying in heaven- preaching the ‘everlasting gospel’ to all nations that dwell on the earth.
The gospel means ‘good news’- we often read the book of Revelation- and use it to back up the scenarios I just spoke about.
But this verse says the intent of God is to tell the good news to ALL ETHNIC GROUPS.
No one is left out- do you hear this?
Arabs- Jews- everyone- the good news is Christ brought us all back to God by his death for us.
That’s good news.
Would it be good news if I said ‘hey Arab- guess what- Christ is coming back- oh- he will lead a war against you and your kids- if you get lucky you might be killed by Christ’.
Now- I know this sounds absurd- but that’s the majority teaching in the American Protestant church today.
Just last night I caught a little of the coverage of the Democrat convention.
They were reporting on a ‘big’ news event.
What was it?
That the Dem’s took the wording out of their platform that said they believed Jerusalem should be the undivided capitol of Israel.
Why would this big a big deal?
It dates back to the 19th century- and the rise of what we call Dispensational theology.
Basically the development of this whole teaching that I just covered.
Eventually the teaching would influence large swaths of American Protestantism.
And it would seep in to the political world.
Yes- the actual statement that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel- found in the political parties of our day- stem straight from the influence of the Dispensationalists of the 19th century.
Okay- what am I saying?
Do I advocate for the Palestinians getting half of Jerusalem?
[See- now I’m getting into politics]
Practically speaking- I don’t see how that could ever be workable.
You have Hamas- a recognized terror group by the U.S. – holding elected positions in Palestine.
So- I don’t see how this same group can share Jerusalem- practically speaking.
But- when you begin basing your political agenda on your view of the bible which might very well be wrong- then that’s when we get into trouble.
The New Testament apostles saw Jesus as the Messiah that they were waiting for.
All Jewish people do not see it that way- that’s their right- they have the freedom to believe the way they want.
Arab people have the freedom to believe the way they want.
Christians have the freedom to believe the way they want.
We as believers should share the Good News with all people groups.
That’s our mandate.
I just fear that much of what we are preaching is not good news.
1903 JEWS AND THE END TIMES?
I want to delve into a hard issue for the church.
The last few weeks I have been watching the documentaries from net flix.
I mentioned that most [if not all?] are done from the liberal perspective- which I’m okay with.
But it is important on all issues to see both sides.
One of the things they dealt with was the history of the church and anti Semitism.
Yes- the Christian church has had a long history of treating the Jewish people badly.
As a Protestant- those of you who have been reading my posts for a while- well you realize that I’m not in the ‘normal’ category of Protestantism.
Many of the subjects I hit on are going against the strain of what we normally view as American Evangelicalism.
I often reference the Pope- in a good way- or talk about our Catholic brothers and sisters- well- as brothers and sisters!
So- I realize I have rubbed many the wrong way.
So- this subject of the treatment of the Jewish people has seen extremes- and in the American Evangelical church- much too much of the ‘end times’ stuff- in my view- is missing the boat.
As we read the New Testament we see Jesus and the disciples [all Jewish by the way] living at a time when the Roman govt. ruled over the Jewish people- and the Jewish people were waiting for their ‘salvation’ by means of a Jewish Messiah who would come and deliver them from their oppressors.
Much of their understanding of salvation was tied in to a national deliverance.
When you read the prayers/praises of both John the Baptists dad- and also Mary’s praise [called the Magnificat] you see a strong sense of national deliverance.
They speak about God sending the Messiah to deliver the people form their oppressors.
Okay- in this milieu we have Jesus and his guys living and believing that the ‘salvation’ of God is near.
It was only natural for the disciples- especially those who we call Zealots [Simon- not Peter] to think that this whole salvation story was about God restoring natural Israel back to a place of prominence once again- no more Roman rule type of thing.
But we see an interesting thing with Jesus- he keeps making statements that seem to lead the disciples away from seeing things this way.
‘My kingdom is not of this world- or my men would fight’
‘Put up the sword- those who live by it will die by it’
And the verse I quoted the other day ‘see all these buildings- temple- there will not be one stone left upon another’.
He basically is rejecting the nationalistic idea of him being the Messiah who would redeem Israel in a nationalist way.
He’s showing them that his purpose is different- it’s salvific for sure- but not in the way they perceive.
Okay- I’m beginning to realize I won’t be able to cover the whole thing in this post.
Maybe I’ll do a few more like this in the next few days.
The point is- I want you to see that God’s purpose for our Jewish friends- our Muslim friends- for all races and ethnic groups.
His purpose is not to pit one side against the other.
It’s not about Jesus defending one side- at his second coming- and actually leading that side in a real war- where he shoots people- or kills them with a sword!
No- these scenarios- which prevail in the End Times books you see at Wal mart.
These ‘narratives’ if you will- go against the entire grain of the teachings of Jesus.
This is why you see me so negative at times- against the Evangelical church.
Many Protestants- well meaning people- have such a negative view of the historic church- that they reject the ancient church’s position on these things.
For the most part- the historic church took a position called A-Millennialism.
Basically it’s a kind of spiritual way of seeing all these things.
God’s kingdom is not seen thru the eyes of natural war- but thru the eyes of a heavenly kingdom.
I think that’s the correct position- for the most part.
But most American protestants believe that this position is just one of the many ‘doctrines of the Whore of Babylon’ see what I mean?
Okay- lets end there- think on some of this stuff- read the New Testament with this in your mind.
Why does the Apostle John refer to natural Jerusalem as ‘spiritual Sodom and Egypt’? [Revelation]
Was his intent to be anti Semitic?
No- he was showing us that God’s concern was for all people groups- no longer was it about a nationalistic thing- a type of salvation that the disciples at first were thinking of.
As I end this post- I want to make sure that all my friends- Jews- Muslims- all- understand that my position is that God loves us all- and he’s not in the business of backing any side- militarily.
I hope to show you this in the coming days.
1896 SIGNS OF THE TIMES
‘Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee- is burned up with fire’ Isaiah 64:11.
Yesterday I mentioned that I watched a couple of negative documentaries about Christianity- they were done from the extreme skeptic’s perspective.
In these types of shows they usually have a few Christians/preachers that they portray as idiots.
In some cases- we can’t help ourselves!
One of the scenes was this group of protestant Christians traveling to Israel on a holy land tour.
When they are at the site of the temple mount [a real big deal for certain protestants- called Dispensationalists].
The pastor is speaking- very loudly- and quoting Jesus from Matthew 24.
He says ‘Jesus said there would be no stone left upon another- he meant it- all these stones will come down’!
Now- I know he meant well- and it must have felt exhilarating for him to kind of be standing up for Jesus- but we all know that there is this huge gold mosque sitting right at the spot where the temple used to be.
And this is where- for some Protestants- the rubber meets the road.
The above verse comes from the Old Testament prophet- the people of God [Israel] were being judged- they lost their homeland and eventually their holy temple would be destroyed.
Over a period of time they would return to their land and the temple would be re built.
During the days of Jesus you had a 3rd temple- even though the 2nd rebuilt one was never destroyed- yet Herod [the father of king Herod whom we read about in the bible] would undergo this huge rebuilding project- and he turned the temple of Jesus day into this huge majestic place.
So- when the disciples were with Jesus one day [matt 24] they said ‘look at all these great buildings Jesus’.
And that’s when he gave the response ‘their will not be left one stone upon another that shall not be cast down’.
This event took place in the year AD 70- the Roman general Titus would sack Jerusalem and the temple was cast down- there was not ‘one stone left on another’ literally.
After the destruction- many went in and searched thru the rubble for the gold that melted and fell between the stones- they actually laid every stone bare during this process.
So- the actual words the minister quoted from Jesus- these words were not defending the glory of the temple- which in Christ’s day came to represent religion apart from God.
No- the words of Jesus were actually a rebuke to those who put too much emphasis on the temple itself [which just happened to be the camp that the above minister was in- ouch!]
Christians do have a problem with stuff like this- lots.
I also caught a few preaching shows over the past week- and many of them had the same theme.
One man was ranting against Muslims- he was quoting verses in the Bible that talk about avoiding the evil person.
I actually just posted on this a few weeks ago.
These verses come from the Apostle Paul’s pen- in his letter to the church at Corinth.
He was not saying to have no contact with unbelievers [or people of other faiths]- he was talking about ‘church members’ who were living in open sin.
I got into it the other day- don’t want to rehash it again.
The point was- even though this minister meant well- he was giving the opinion that Christians should have no peaceful dealings with Muslims- or any other religion for that matter.
Is this right?
The bible says we should live peaceably with all men.
In the Old Testament we read the story of Joseph.
He became the second most powerful figure in the land of Egypt- only Pharaoh was over him.
Joseph was living- and functioning- in the midst of the Egyptian people- who did indeed have different religious beliefs than Joseph.
Yet we read how Joseph earned great respect from the Egyptians- and when Joseph’s dad died [Jacob- who was named Israel] they respected the wishes of Joseph and even mourned with him.
Now- this is a great example of believers having friends- functioning in society- without purposefully offending people.
I do not claim to have perfect understanding about the end times- but I do see some major flaws with what most people think about when they hear ‘end times’.
Many Christians see a future restoration of the temple in Jerusalem.
They see a huge problem that the mosque sits on the temple site- and they have various scenarios to see the thing removed.
These same believers- all good people mind you- also see Jesus restoring the sacrificial system- and him ruling over Jerusalem- with the sacrifices taking place once again.
In the book of Hebrews- in our bibles- the writer says ‘those who continue the sacrificial system- after the crucifixion of Christ- are doing disgrace to the Cross of Christ.’
Theologically- the above end time’s scenario does much harm to the basic message of the Cross.
Geopolitically- it spells disaster.
1895- BUYER BEWARE!
We bought the Rocu thing the other day.
That’s the device that lets you watch movies on line.
You get a lot of real good stuff- I was surprised.
I was also surprised to see all the documentaries about religion and Christianity.
The ones from Netflix looked interesting- so I watched a couple.
All of the ones I saw were done from a skeptic’s point of view.
Now- as someone who writes on apologetics [the defense of the faith] I am familiar with these arguments against the faith.
But- if you are not familiar- these doc’s will shake your faith- for sure.
They are done from the perspective that Christianity basically copied the Greek myths of God and religion- they focus on the ‘similarities’ between Christianity and Greek [and other cultures] religions.
Okay- what was wrong- or deceptive?
First- this entire school of thought was popularized in the 19th century- from the Christian universities in Germany.
Yes- some good men- well meaning men [others not so good! Freud- etc] believed that in order for the faith to survive in this ‘brave new world’ [modernity- and the whole humanistic advance of man since the enlightenment].
That they had to re-fashion the faith and sort of bring it up to date with the times.
Men like Rudolph Bultman introduced the idea of ‘de mythologizing’ the bible.
So- these guys rejected all the supernatural elements of the bible- no more miracles- angels- demons- or resurrection!
Many people embraced this ‘new’ bold approach to the faith- and basically became theological liberals.
One of the reasons some of these men went down this road were covered in the above documentaries.
Okay- as I watched a couple of them- they had similar themes- and were also wrong in the same way.
They compared about 25 other religious myths- from other cultures- and they said these other religious myths all had a savior- a son of god- who had 12 disciples.
They said this Lamb of God died- was buried- and on the 3rd day rose again.
They said he did miracles- was born of a virgin- was called Lord and savior.
And they made it sound like this ‘story’- in complete form- was repeated many times before the Christians ‘picked it up’.
Wow- double wow.
Why are these documentaries dangerous?
First- I actually have read/studied in this field.
The similarities that they described in the doc’s were way overdone- they simply are not true.
That’s the first problem.
But- they did mix in some truth- with the false stuff.
Both of the documentaries I saw [it seems like there is one person- producer- behind the 2 I saw] did give an actual quote from a 2nd century Christian leader- Justin Martyr.
The quote is indeed real- Justin is known as one of the first Apologists of the church.
He defended the faith during a time when many enemies of the faith slandered the religion.
In one defense [out of many] he said that those who reject Christianity because we believe that a Divine son rose from the dead- that others also held the same type of belief in the pagan world.
He was referring to the god Jupiter and the stories that surround those who believed in him.
You also do find this same type of thing in the myth of Hercules.
Okay- so the skeptic was right then?
In the documentary- the skeptic actually gives the quote from Justin- and Justin says that just because these similarities did exist in other religions- before Christ- that this in no way means the Christian faith is false.
Justin said it was possible for satan to have ‘imitated’ what was really going to happen.
The skeptic mocked this argument from Justin- and went on to challenge the faith.
A few things.
First- it is possible that Justin was right.
This whole line of attack is not new [unless you never heard of it before- which is why I’m kinda surprised that Netflix has them in their lineup].
It goes all the way back to the writings of Gilgamesh.
These are writings that also have similarities to the things we find in the bible- yet they are not coming from the Christian perspective.
They contain a story about a flood [like the one in Genesis].
So- over time- skeptics have said ‘see- the bible must have copied these flood stories- because we find them in other cultures’.
I actually covered this before.
Let me give you the short version.
We- as Christians- do indeed believe the story of Noah [the flood].
Some debate whether it was a global event or local- I don’t want to get into that now.
But- if there was a huge event- say like a 911 plane attack on the world trade center.
Would you not expect to find that event- recorded in more than one culture?
Of course you would.
So the fact that other cultures have a flood event recorded too- this does not mean the Christians plagiarized the flood- no- it would be evidence that the flood really did happen.
Now- the similarities between a divine son who rose from the dead.
First- there ARE NOT 25 or so stories like this- with 12 disciples- raised on the 3rd day- and so on.
The producer of the doc was simply mislead- or outright lying.
We must remember that anything we find in Greek culture- which predated Christian ‘culture’ was also predated by Jewish culture.
That is to say that the story of Judaism comes before the Greek philosophers.
Are there any themes in the Jewish religion that speak about a Messiah who would come- die- and be the Messiah of all mankind?
So- you could argue that any similarities between Greek myth- and Christianity- are actually ‘copies’ taken from the Old Testament story.
That is- God himself gave us clues about the story of redemption- and these clues might have very well ‘seeped’ into the Greek culture- before Christ- and that’s why you might find similarities between the 2.
Okay- I could go on- but I think I made the point.
I was not mad that these documentaries were on net flix.
But I saw the danger in presenting one side like this- without giving the other view [which I just gave].
All in all- the Christian faith has more historical backing [like the many thousands of bible manuscripts that survived the early days] than any other religion or writings of any kind.
The documentaries made a couple of good points- things that were indeed true- but they had way too much mis information in them to be playing on such a huge venue.
Buyer [or watcher] beware!