I appeared on the Josh Tolley Show on 8/15/2014 to discuss Exorcism, Possession and Demonology.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014
Recently I read an article advocating for significant changes in how teachers grade students. The article argued that, because America is so horribly racist, students should be graded differently based on their race. In all their Progressive "compassion", they want to lower the bar for minorities. Implicit in such a position is that somehow minorities are just not intellectually capable of meeting the same standards as the perceived majority. This is an implication I find appalling and reject completely. It is racist and repugnant to even suggest, but that is exactly what is behind such ideas. As with all things Progressive, this also means it is anti-Christian and anti-American on some level as well. These ideas are never static or limited. While such approaches may start with grading systems, the Progressives supporting such "race based" education would undoubtedly find fault with the substance of the education offered as a whole (and have). Why do I say this? Simple.
Progressives also decry what they perceive as a lack of students being taught to use their minds creatively, to think for themselves and to study subjects that are clearly out of the mainstream and perhaps represent alternative lifestyles, spiritualities, and supportive of decidedly left leaning socio-political views. As most Christian colleges and seminaries offer a program of study that is very strictly Biblically based, and which stress the fundamental principles of the Christian faith from the conservative perspective, they most certainly view that as a form of mind control and perhaps (like many Progressive pundits have stated) a method of abuse. Yes, you read that right. While implying minorities are somehow incapable of achieving high standards educationally, they claim Christians are the abusive ones. Don't try to figure out their logic. There is none. They ignore the fact that students in such colleges are strongly encouraged to think things through, utilize their rational faculties and seek personal realization of the subject matter taught.
And those pesky grading systems where students are scored on their retention of information, proper application, etc. Well they have to go too. Progressives who promote a race based grading system also prefer a more "theoretical" based education as opposed to a "dogmatic" one. In other words, answers to any given problems will be completely subjective and there are no right or wrong (especially wrong) answers. Students are graded on not only a racial basis, but on their intention. If they sincerely tried to arrive at a correct answer, then the answer is given a passing grade no matter how incorrect. We can see this in operation now in many grade schools and high schools in the country where Common Core has taken the place of a real educational curriculum. They claim they want students to use their minds, but truthfully they don't want them to use them too much.
One of the reasons I think Progressives resist students actually using their minds critically and meeting tough goals is that it becomes a sort of double edged sword. Secular universities are well known for their Progressive faculties and the fact that the Leftist Socialist agenda is the predominating and forcefully inculcated one on their campuses. Students who express conservative political or social views, or who attempt to defend their orthodox Christian faith are often ridiculed openly by Progressive professors and even failed based on their Christian faith or conservative worldview. Considering such students are in actuality a minority on campuses the double standard is obvious. That is, to everyone except the Progressive. If Progressive educators were to press the issue of actually using one's mind to think critically and to discern facts from propaganda the inevitable charge of their own abuse in discouraging such freedom of thought would become a hot topic, and one which they are ill prepared to either engage or defend themselves against.
Beyond that, I suspect the student body at large is growing discontent with the Globalist answers as well (though those students who are remain a minority and still cling to Progressive socio-political ideas). As I wrote in my article Reclaiming the Culture (Intrepid Magazine, Feb. 2013),
"The movement, which is most prominent in our universities, is essentially a "New Age" vision of Globalism/Progressivism. Its stated aim is to equalize all cultures, all nations, and all individuals within a Global socialist system deemed to be some sort of Utopia. The New Age Movement refers to this desire in the terms of a "higher consciousness" that views everyone and everything as interconnected and interdependent, while denying individual freedom and self determination. The college student achieves this higher consciousness, when he no longer views one culture or social outlook as superior to another culture or social outlook. The main effort of the Globalist is to train the student to both view his own culture (i.e.,Western, Christian culture) as one culture among many equally valid cultures and, consequently, assume a mental stance of "openness" to values present in other, non-Western cultures. In fact, this consciousness actually demands the American and the Christian revile his culture and religion, and to constantly apologize for the perceived evils of both. It appears that within the Progressive paradigm all cultures are celebrated except that influenced by Christian thought. In fact, the openness of the Left ends when the American Dream is mentioned, since the American Dream is the polar opposite of the fascist dictatorship the Progressives seek. Put simply, freedom is an obstacle to the Progressive agenda."
As in all egalitarian efforts, this process of "equalization" amounts to an attempt to "level the playing field" , or make "fair" that which has traditionally been considered to be superior. How is this done? By exalting that which is normally considered to be inferior or defective. Of course, this means these same educators work to remove any pride in country from the student's mind as well. The United States must be seen as evil by design and oppressive of minorities, homosexuals, and any other group they use as weapons of propaganda in order to change the social fabric and empower themselves to advance their essentially Socialist agenda. Progressives achieve this result by introducing courses into the college curriculum which both exalt other cultures and, most importantly, focus on the perceived absolute decadence of Western Christian culture (a decadence they are responsible for, as the increase in immorality, broken families, drug abuse, violence and poverty are a direct result of the introduction of Progressive ideology in media and in governmental policy. The once prosperous city of Detroit, Michigan is an excellent example of what happens when Progressives control policy.
You might think that Progressives would be frustrated in their attempt to exalt the "suppressed and oppressed" non-Western cultures and sub-cultures of the U.S., basically because students generally aren't interested. Or one might think students would see the obvious great works and great ideas of Western Christian culture. This obviously is not the case, as again, they are generally disinterested. The National Endowment for the Humanities reports that it is possible to graduate from 37% of American colleges without taking a course in history, from 45% without taking a course in American or English literature, from 62% without taking any philosophy, and from 77% without studying a foreign language. Indeed they state it is now "extremely rare" to find students exposed to a core curriculum in Western civilization, even at major state universities and the elite Ivy League universities. Not only is the average American undergraduate seemingly unfit, and definitely uninterested, in such expanded cultural "awareness," but the very purveyors of Globalism, the university faculties, are themselves obviously uninterested in any serious study of the ideas, habits, and customs which make up the content of Western Christian cultures. They simply do not fit the revolutionary ideology of the Globalist cabal.
If university education is lacking (and I agree it is) then Progressives need look no further than their own socio-political agenda for the reasons.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Saturday, July 26, 2014
What follows is just a few of the archaeological discoveries that lend serious support to the historicity of the Sacred Scriptures.
This is the oldest known reference to Yahweh, the personal name of God found in Exodus 3. That is, if the site of Jebel al Lawz is not proven to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai. Thus far scholars have not supported the findings at that particular site. The writing is in hieroglyphs and dates back to 1400 BC. The inscription refers to nomadic people who worshiped Yahweh, and certainly would be the Israelites. This is from a temple built by the Pharaoh Amenhotep III in Soleb, modern day Sudan.
This basalt stone, dating to the 9th century BC, contains an ancient Aramaic inscription referring to the "House of David". Found in excavations in 1993 the stone is known as the Tel Dan Stela.
This inscription found on the Karnak Temple complex depicts the Pharaoh Shishak's military victories, including his invasion of Israel. (ca. 925 BC) This is the same events recorded in the Sacred Scriptures (I Kings 14:25), where Shishak is referred to by name.
This cuneiform monument, known as the Kurkh Monolith, was originally carved ca. 835 BC by the Assyrians. It makes reference to King Ahab, who is also spoken of in the Sacred Scriptures. (I Kings 16-22) Why am I sharing these things? I think it is important to demonstrate the historic veracity of the Biblical accounts of events. Thus, I will begin to post articles frequently that not only demonstrate this, but that also demonstrate the fallacious nature of what passes for research in the fringe archaeology and historical revisionist subculture that has spawned programs such as Scott Wolter's program American Unearthed, and literature as dubious as The Exodus Reality, by psuedo-scholars Scotty Roberts and John Ward. In the coming months we will begin a serious and indepth exploration of the archaeology of the Bible both here and in the pages of Vexilla Regis Journal. We can assure you, your faith will be bolstered and your eyes opened to amazing confirmation. And the added bonus is that we will demonstrate the fallacious nature of the fringe archaeology and historical revisionist subcultures. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I've been asked numerous times recently to detail some of my theological objections to Scotty Roberts' book The Rise and Fall of the Nephilim. I think this is a good request and one I should meet, as I have been an open critic of the author's work. After doing so this will be my final article on this topic, as I've grown quite weary of answering the questions. Roberts attempts to utilize scripture in his writing, but does so within the framework of fringe theology and ancient alien thought, as witnessed by his frequent reference to Nephilim as “aliens” and “lesser gods”. Throughout the book Roberts demonstrates a severe and egregious inability to understand scripture, either within its ancient Hebraic context nor within its Christian context. What follows are some specific theological problems with the book. First is the Serpent Seed Heresy: This theory is most popular in the Christian Identity Movement, a white racist movement that promotes the same heresy in an effort to cast non-whites and Jews as being less than human and children of Satan in a literal sense. A repugnant "theology" at best. However, nowhere in the Genesis account can this idea be supported. One of the problems Roberts faces is that if Cain were indeed the child of Nachash (the Serpent, Satan), he would certainly have been a Nephilim (giant) like the offspring written of in the Book of Enoch. Furthermore, if Cain was a child of Satan, why would he even care that his offering was not acceptable to God? Why would he even make an offering? And finally, why would God place a mark on Cain to protect his life if he was a Nephilim? Christian Identity heretics claim that mark was dark skin, by the way. Then we get to Roberts' idea that The Fall Involved Sexual Activity: The idea that Eve had sexual relations with the Serpent is a key element in Roberts' theology, and one he shares again with Christian Identity. The question is, if Eve’s sin was adultery, what was Adam’s sin? Despite Roberts' Gnostic ideas (which he also shares with Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church cult), Adam’s sin brought death into the world because he sinned willfully; whereas, according to Paul, Eve sinned because she was deceived by the serpent. In other words, she was lied to and fell for the lie. Being deceived and being sexually seduced are two very different things. The totality of scripture is clear that the sin was disobedience and did not involve sex. Next are his oddball comments about Moses: Roberts' version of Moses is bizarre to say the least. Moses comes across in this book as an egotistical, power hungry sociopath who sought to be the equivalent of the Pharaoh to the Israelites. Meanwhile, Sacred Scripture (which Roberts pretends to use responsibly) says Moses was compassionate and willingly gave up his royal position in Egypt, willingly went into exile, and ultimately suffered for and with his fellow Israelites. Rather than being the power hungry person Roberts implies he was, Moses attempted to avoid being the leader of the Israelites. Roberts states that Moses’ “face to face” encounters with God were nothing more than mere political theater, designed to put him in a place of authority with the Israelites that could not be easily challenged. What emerges from such a critique is not an honest approach to scripture, but more Roberts' own psychology struggling with his admitted (in the book itself) lack of faith. Of course, no attack on Christianity would be complete without the claim that Jesus was Married: This is a favorite claim of Roberts'. He offers no proof but claims that Jesus was married. He claims that Jewish tradition maintains a rabbi must be married. Since the publication of the best selling book 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail', authored by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, the hypothesis that Jesus was married has gained considerable attention. This isn't a new heresy, but one taught by some ancient Gnostic sects. Fringe personalities point to this as a central problem that cannot be brushed under the rug. The hypothesis can be simplified to the following; the historical Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, very probably at the wedding feast at Cana mentioned in the Gospel of John, and as a result of this marriage they had children. They claim as evidence the following passages in the Gospel of John: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what does this have to do with you and me? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:1-11)
From peripheral evidences and this passage the “Married Jesus Hypothesis” posits the following:
- To be a rabbi in first century Judea, one needed to be married. This was not a demand of Torah, per se, but strong Israelite tradition.
- It was the groom's family that was responsible for providing wine at a first century Jewish wedding. Still is tradition today. Thus Mary going to Jesus when the wine ran out is evidence that this was the wedding of Jesus.
- It seems Jesus' mother held some position of authority at the wedding, in that she went directly to her son when they were out of wine. And she was not just complaining. Their interaction indicated that she was addressing him in a tone of both responsibility and admonishment for him to do something about it.
- Jesus also seemed to have authority over the servants, as he tells them to do this and that, etc.
- And at this point, he is simply “the carpenter's son." He has no rabbinic authority established.
So the pertinent and essential questions before us are, did Jesus have to be married to be a rabbi, and was the wedding feast at Cana his wedding? The answer to both questions is a definite no when we examine the totality of evidences; something Roberts consistently fails to do in his writings. While it certainly would have been the average thing for an Israelite man to do, it was by no means an established must as we will see through an examination of rabbinic literature. We'll look closely examine at this New Testament passage for more clues as to the reality of the situation. Let's examine each of the five evidences given above for the “Married Jesus Hypothesis”.
One of the errors of the “Married Jesus Hypothesis” is it's selective reading of rabbinic literature and ignoring the fuller historical context of Judaism in the first century, which was much more diverse than it is today. While certainly not a common practice, celibacy was not unheard of even within the Pharisaical sect of Judaism as scholar, archaeologist and Biblical historian George Foot Moore tells us:
"Celibacy was, in fact, not common, and was disapproved by the rabbis, who taught that a man should marry at eighteen, and that if he passed the age of twenty without taking a wife he transgressed a divine command and incurred God's displeasure. Postponement of marriage was permitted students of the Law that they might concentrate their attention on their studies, free from the cares of supporting a wife. Cases like that of Simeon be 'Azzai, who never married, were evidently infrequent. He had himself said that a man who did not marry was like one who shed blood, and diminished the likeness of God. One of his colleagues threw up to him that he was better at preaching that at practicing, to which he replied, What shall I do? My soul is enamored of the Law; the population of the world can be kept up by others...It is not to be imagined that pronouncements about the duty of marrying and the age at which people should marry actually regulated practice."
Rabbi Simeon was clearly celibate and considered a holy man because of his focused devotion to the Torah which prevented him from marrying and having children as tradition and culture may have demanded of him. Do note that he was not disqualified to be a rabbi by virtue of his celibacy, nor did it disqualify the Essenes. This precedent is reflective of the Gospel of Matthew which says:
His disciples said to him, “If that is the relationship of a man with his wife, it’s not worth getting married!” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, except those to whom celibacy has been granted. For some men are celibate from birth, while others are celibate because they have been made that way by others. Still others are celibate because they have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can. (Matthew 19:10)
This last reason for celibacy that Jesus taught to his disciples is the exact reason given by Rabbi Simeon and the Essenes. The Essene adherents were described by contemporary historians Josephus, Philo and Pliny as being celibate. In 1st century Judaism a class of individuals who were 'allowed' or 'expected' to be celibate were prophetic figures. This is witnessed to throughout Jewish history. Examples are the prophet Jeremiah, the wilderness prophet Banus (attested to by Josephus), John the Baptist, and possibly even Elijah. Even the 2nd century Chasidic miracle-worker, the Galilean rabbi Pinhas ben Yair taught that celibacy was essential to reception of prophetic wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Rabbinical literature does indeed give witness of other celibates such as Eliezer ben Hyrcanus who said of his celibacy, "My soul is in love with the Torah. The world can be carried on by others". That such a tradition could be enshrined in the Talmud clearly suggests that celibacy, though frowned upon by the rabbis, was not unheard of in Judaism during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. The common rationale for celibacy is an all-consuming commitment to God's will in one's whole life that precludes the usual path of marriage and child-rearing. Certainly a fitting reason for the Messiah. In view of this tradition in early Judaism, it is hardly surprising that the Jewish scholar Geza Vermes views Jesus as celibate in fulfillment of his prophetic ministry. He states, "Against such a background of first-century AD Jewish opinion, namely that the prophetic destiny entailed amongst other things a life of continence, Jesus' apparent voluntary embrace of celibacy, at any rate from the time of his reception of the holy spirit, becomes historically meaningful."
So, although it would have been 'normal' and expected for a young Jewish man to be married, we have examples of where it was acceptable for that not to be the case. Therefore, Jesus would not need to be married even by Pharisaic thought to be a rabbi. Thus ends one myth upon which the married Jesus hypothesis is predicated.
But what of the wedding feast at Cana? Certainly it was the wedding of Jesus, possibly to Mary Magdalene, right? This claim again demonstrates a lack of comprehensive understanding with regard to not only Jewish weddings of that period, but also a dishonest picking and choosing of the totality of scriptural evidences regarding this episode in the life of Jesus. The first point in refuting this myth of Cana as the wedding of Jesus is the report of John that Jesus was invited to the wedding feast.
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding.” (John 2:1-2)
There is no reason why a groom would have to be invited to his own wedding. To even suggest so is not only absurd, but a dishonest rendering of the internal reporting. Furthermore, a groom would certainly not leave with his mother after his wedding, since his primary responsibility would be to his wife at that point. And again, John tells us that Jesus left with his mother and family members.
“And after this he went down to Capernaeum, he and his mother and brothers and disciples; and they stayed there for a few days.” (John 2:12)
Note there is mention of every family member, yet no mention of a wife. Of course there would be no mention since he was a guest at the wedding as demonstrated in the verses previously examined. Rather than this story proving Jesus to have been married, it demonstrates that Mary was a somewhat overbearing mother, who sought to help the bridegroom at this wedding feast save face rather than run out of wine. This is where the claim that Mary going to Jesus regarding the wine is evidence that he was the bridegroom falls apart. Rather than panicking himself or demonstrating concern for what was certainly traditionally the bridegroom's responsibility, Jesus clearly states it is not his nor his mother's concern. The literal translation from the Greek text reads as follows with regard to Jesus' response to his mother. In verse three Mary rushes to Jesus and (paraphrasing here) says, “They've run out of wine! Do something!” To which Jesus responds: “What is that to me and to you, woman?” John 2:4
First, Jesus' use of the word 'woman' in response to Mary was still respectful, but considered at that time to be a maternal rebuke. In essence he was saying, “This doesn't have a thing to do with us, woman!” Hardly the response of the bridegroom, but certainly an expected response of an invited guest. Each time a phrase such as this occurs in the Greek it is always a disengagement from the situation at hand; a denial of responsibility. Rather than substantiating the claim that Mary had authority at the wedding it further demonstrates that she was being a bit of a busy body, overstepping her boundaries with regard to the situation at hand. And yet Jesus still helped the bridegroom, whoever he was, by telling the servants to fill the jars. His directing them to do this does not demonstrate his authority at the wedding, but rather the normative authority that any rabbi would have held, and indeed the panic that must have set in at the thought of running out of wine on the part of the servants and no doubt the bridegroom. And if, as some Biblical scholars believe, Jesus was associated with the Essenes for a period of time (a training period that would account for the exact number of years considered to be lost), there is also no substance to the idea that was not yet a rabbi. In short, the internal textual evidence of the New Testament accounts can only be used to substantiate a married Jesus if one ignores the totality of their reporting as well as the testimony of rabbinical literature regarding the customs of 1st century Judaism. One would have to ignore all evidences available, distort those chosen as proof texts, and avoid the reality of the situation. The net of this is that any reconstruction of the life of Jesus from the New Testament and rabbinic literature must go to great lengths to demonstrate that any traditions it cites actually are descriptive of the situation. So we have established that:
- Jesus did not have to be married as the witness of the New Testament, Rabbinical literature and history confirm.
- The Church did not cover up any marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
- Reconstructions of Jesus' life from critical usage of the New Testament and compared with rabbinic material substantiates the basics of the Gospel accounts.
- The married Jesus hypothesis fails both the tests of rabbinical history and New Testament critique.
Yet another of Roberts' Gnostic claims bites the dust.
I could go on and on, but these few items listed demonstrate the obvious academic shortcomings and lack of Biblical research Scotty Roberts' book possesses. Throughout the book he disparages orthodox Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, referring to them collectively as “fundamentalists”. He states, that for such fundamentalists “nothing exists outside the bounds of written scriptural text”. Roberts, coming as he does from a fundamentalist Baptist background, has no grasp of Christianity outside the very miniscule boundaries of that paradigm, and thus has no appreciation for Apostolic Tradition. Indeed, were he familiar with it he would undoubtedly attack it as well. Beyond this, Roberts seems ignorant of the contribution of Christianity to archaeology, anthropology, etc. Of course, to recognize the debt owed to such “fundamentalists” would not fit the fringe theories offered in his book. Though expressing doubts, at the time of writing the book Roberts says,“I still cling to my Judeo-Christian roots”. I would have to ask, in what sense? Roberts' more recent comments with reference to Christianity leave one with the impression he is agnostic at best. All in all this is a book (along with his follow up book on Moses) Christians should not waste their money on. Far better to read more academically sound and Biblically orthodox literature than to support the rantings of heretics.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014
This website is designed to serve Christ the King. And while we do our best to see to it this is done, if we have the chance to actually reach out and touch a life in the Holy Name of Our Lord and Savior and don't do so, then this website is fruitless. This news story came to my attention this evening. I was so touched by it that I've struggled each time I share it on Facebook, Twitter and here with tears. This is an opportunity for all of us to make a simple, beautiful wish come true. Please, if this website has meant anything to you, if you value Our Lord's words when he said, "As much as you've not done it unto the least of these, you've not done it unto me." (St. Matthew 25:40), then please read the link, send this baby a birthday card and share this with as many as you can. And then join me in prayer for this child and his family.