The Apple Of God's Eye

April 23, 2011

Catholics Have It Wrong On Jesus’ Time In The Grave

Editors Comment: This is a great article about the fallacy of the Catholic Church’s timing of how long Christ was really in the grave, to suit their doctrinal errors. It is from the Trumpet.com, and written by columnist Stephen Flurry. Check it out .

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newcreationperson.wordpress.com

It is commonly assumed that Jesus was crucified on a Friday afternoon and then rose from the dead a day and a half later around sunrise on Sunday morning. But if Jesus died on Friday and vacated His tomb at dawn on Sunday, how does that amount to three days and three nights, the time frame Christ established as proof of His Messiahship?

That’s the intriguing question posed by USA Today last week. Sadly, the article attempted to explain away the sure prophecy of Christ by holding up weak arguments presented by biblical scholars. One “expert” actually reasoned that Jesus didn’t intend for His words in Matthew 12:40 to be a “precise” measure of time!

Even Pope Benedict xvi, the article informs, wrestles with the three-day time frame in his book about Christ’s last days. According to the pope, “There is no direct scriptural testimony pointing to the ‘third day.’”

No scriptural testimony? When the Pharisees asked Christ for a sign as proof of His Messiahship, being in the grave three full days and three full nights was the one and only sign Jesus gave. He meant what He said. In another passage, He even referred to the daylight portion of a day as including 12 hours (John 11:9).

So when Jesus said three days and three nights, He meant 72 hours—no more, no less. That is the plain testimony of Scripture.

When it comes to the Easter sunrise service, however, there is no scriptural testimony to observe that man-made holiday. The word “Easter” appears once in the Bible—in Acts 12:4—and only in the King James Version. Hastings Bible Dictionary and other translations of the Bible correctly render this word, pascha—as it is translated in every other instance it appears in the Bible—as Passover. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was crucified on Passover (Matthew 26:2). (more…)

August 31, 2009

Did Jesus Christ Own A House?

Did Jesus Christ own a home? Traditionally, the consensus seems to run counter to the entire idea of Jesus having a home. Some have attempted to use Matthew 8.20 and Luke 9.58 as proof texts to argue such claims.

By way of a brief background to this question, remember that Luke, the author of Acts and his own Gospel, wrote (as a historian naturally would) in chronological order (see Luke 1:1,3).

Checking the context of the passage in question, we read in Luke 9:51-56: “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him [make arrangements for a place to stay]. And they [the residents of the village] did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.”

The Samaritans in this particular village did not allow Jesus to stay there because He was on His way to Jerusalem. The location of the Temple was a bone of contention between the Jewish people and the Samaritans (see John 4:20). The Samaritans maintained a rival “holy site” on Mount Gerizim.

Now read Luke 9:57-58, remembering the preceding verses: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

So how do we understand these verses in context? Jesus had wanted to lodge in a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem. The citizenry wouldn’t allow it. Therefore, Jesus — in the light of their denying Him overnight accommodations — told the young man that He had no place to stay at the moment.

In other words, at that particular time (“as they went in the way” [verse 57] from one Samaritan village to the next [see verse 56]) He was having difficulty in finding a place to stay overnight on His journey to Jerusalem. It was exemplary of His, at times, difficult ministry.

We also have to remember that when this statement is made, it is when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (to die). Logically, then, it only follows that Jesus has left His home for good. He was definitely not going back! These should be taken as narrative markers which reveal the urgency of Christ making His way to Golgotha. He knows it is going to be hostile and He knows He will die. Thus, when He makes this comment to the scribe, He essentially is asking Him to make a choice: Follow me, with the potential of dying or stay here where you are comfortable.

Thus, Jesus did NOT say in Luke 9:57-58 that He did not have a home. More evidence is revealed in John 1:35-39 where John and two others followed Him to where He stayed.

“The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. As he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. But when Jesus turned around and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” (which is translated “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.’

Mark 2:1-2 also says he stayed in a house and a plain English reading of this verse leaves no room for speculation really that Mark places the event he’s speaking of, in the home of Jesus (the Greek seems to suggest the same). There is no pause in the story and no other people mentioned whose home it could have been (it is commonly argued that this is the home of Peter but the text makes no such claim; further, when Jesus did go to Peter’s home just a few verses earlier, Mark didn’t hesitate to make that known). The International Standard Version says “He was at home,” as does the Moffat, and Revised Standard Version. The New International Version even says “He had come home.”

Most scholars believe that Jesus lived and worked in Capernium prior to his ministry. He did travel a lot and many people get all caught up in the idea that Jesus Christ could not own property. They want to hang on to the stereotype of Jesus as a wandering, homeless, peasant preacher. This notion needs to be put to rest. The gospels tell us to open up our homes to the poor and I see no Biblical reason reason to believe that Jesus did not own a home or that He did not open it up to people. People are simply misreading and misanalyzing the scriptures. The original Greek gives no implied meanings stating otherwise.  Jesus always returned to one general area and so it certainly is not out of the realm of possibility that this was where He lived.

May 6, 2009

Why Hasn't Science Discovered God?

hybrid-androgyne.deviantart.com

hybrid-androgyne.deviantart.com

Until the later half of the nineteenth century, the intellectual community was dominated by religious thinking. In intellectual pursuits men were expected to espouse a belief in God. Alternate views were automatically viewed with suspicion. Science existed, but it was cloaked in a shroud of superstition.

Early in this century, however, the actors on the intellectual stage exchanged roles. God became a mere “extra.” Superstition was cast as the villain. Science emerged to replace religion in the leading role. In the final act many expected science to explain all mysteries, dissolve all superstition and leave nothing to the realm of the supernatural.

But will it? Is this its responsibility? Should we expect science to replace God and religion as significant forces in the intellectual world? Will all knowledge finally succumb to the defining scrutiny of empirical investigation? And will scientists and other educated men who today believe in God eventually cease to believe? Or is there more to the question of God and science than is commonly assumed?

A careful analysis is in order for anyone seeking an intelligent perspective of reality. Science is neither anti-God, nor does it disprove Him. There is no reason to be confused by the belief that God can or even should be done away with by science. Here is why.

What Is Science?

The English word “science” comes from the Latin scientia, which simply means “knowledge.” On the surface it would seem, then, that knowledge of God ought to be a scientific issue. Some religious groups even hold this idea as a basic doctrine of faith. They state that science is not really “true” science unless it includes God and a knowledge of things supernatural. Yet if one is really precise in his definitions, and wishes to avoid inaccurate logic in his quest for factual knowledge of God, this simple definition must be refined.

Science in its proper modern usage is the pursuit of only a limited type of knowledge. “At no time does science claim to be in possession of the whole truth; in fact, science is quite clear in insisting that it is never able to be in possession of the whole truth …” (Richard H. Bube, ed., The Encounter Between Christianity and Science [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968], p. 35). “Science gives us only a partial, even though ever expanding, picture of the universe. To assume that its descriptions cover the whole of reality is folly indeed!” (Ibid., p. 265.)

Science by definition is confined to establishing general truths by the means of empirical evidence available through the five senses. It originates exclusively in physical observation, experience or experimentation. Therefore, “Science is concerned only with the natural world. Unless a phenomenon can be described within the framework of space and time, it is not properly within the domain of science …

The human senses are the tools of science in studying the natural world. If you can’t see it, hear it, feel, taste, or smell it, then science can’t work with it …” (ibid., p. 18). “Its very nature is such that it cannot deal with unobservable phenomena …” (ibid., p. 265). “Science as such cannot either affirm or deny the truth of statements that lie beyond the limits of that which is empirically verifiable and observable” (ibid., p. 280).

In fact, had not scientists confined their investigations to repeatable, testable evidence — the realm of the physical — many of science’s greatest discoveries might still be covered by a cloak of irrational superstition.

One does, though, sometimes hear the term “science” used in less specific ways. Take the term “religious science,” for example. Here the term “science” really ought to be understood as merely meaning “knowledge” — in that religion is not within the scope of science in its exact sense. Therefore, it would seem that the term “religious knowledge” might be more appropriate when used in critical discussions.

“… We must always recognize the limitations of science. Its very nature is such that it cannot deal with unobservable phenomena, including those that are supernatural …” (ibid., p. 265). “Supernatural phenomena which are not thus observable [by use of the senses, etc.] are outside the scope of science” (ibid., p. 263).

Philosophy, Not Fact

Nevertheless, many do forget the distinction. In fact, much of the skepticism, agnosticism and atheism in the civilized world can no doubt be traced to a disregard of the implicit limits of science. In such a case, scientific methodology is universally applied to everything outside the laboratory. One ceases to deal with science, but enters the realm of philosophy, called empiricism or scientism. Such a concept is not scientific; it is merely the highly restrictive view that anything nonscientific is unreal or untrustworthy.

As the dictionary defines it, empiricism is “a theory that all knowledge originates in experience” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). I am sure that many thinking men would reject the validity of this philosophy. But in an age when science has done so many wonderful things for mankind, it is difficult to reject the idea that science does not hold the keys to all mysteries. But conclusive knowledge of God is patently a bigger issue than science alone. God is not antiscientific. He is not even unscientific. He is simply extra-scientific, or largely beyond the testability of empirical methods.

“An awareness of these limits can help us avoid many inappropriate controversies. For example, does the idea of God lend itself to scientific scrutiny? … If our hypothesis is correct, God would indeed exist everywhere … and we would never be able to devise a situation in which God is not present … But if our hypothesis is wrong, He would not exist and would therefore be absent from any test we could possibly make … Yet we would need such a situation for a controlled experiment. Right or wrong, our hypothesis is untestable … and science cannot legitimately say anything about Him. It should be carefully noted that this is a far cry from saying ‘science disproves God,’ or ‘scientists must be godless … ‘ Science commits you to nothing more … than adherence to the ground rules of proper scientific inquiry” (Paul B. Weisz, The Science of Biology, 4th ed. [New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1971], p. 8).

Thus we see that a scientist, when speaking as a scientist, should confine his comments to the limits of his discipline. Unless properly qualified, he should avoid philosophic extrapolations into fields which empirical techniques do not permit him to venture. To require this is not to criticize. It is a mere statement of definition. “The supernatural is not excluded from science because of a bias on the part of scientists; the supernatural is excluded by definition” (Bube, op. cit., p. 19).

Many great scientists, particularly of the last century, did also possess experience that qualified them to speak on topics other than science. Two notable examples are Isaac Newton, who had a well-developed love for poetry, and Samuel B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph and a recognized painter in his day. In fact, most educated men of that day felt an obligation to gain a broad-based educational experience before venturing into specialized fields. Like classical Greek scholars, they felt it poor intellectual wisdom to theorize in areas where they lacked a foundation of basic knowledge.

Perhaps it is unrealistic to attempt, as did nineteenth century scholars, competence in all fields of learning. The sheer mass of information available to a student today makes the task impractical. Yet the need to respect the value and existence of knowledge other than empirical knowledge is still obvious. Many have not, however, and have fallen into the quicksands of empiricism.

I have no objection to a scientist expressing an opinion. Anyone has that right. But a thinking person must object to the man’s reputation as a scientist being used as authority to express non-scientific opinions. Knowledge of science does not qualify one to make authoritative statements about God.

And yet it surprises me how many people trust anything that comes from a scientific authority without asking if it is scientific fact or mere extra-scientific, personal opinion wrapped in a technical-sounding package. Such is the problem today of many who have some education in the field of science and who otherwise want to know about God. They respect science, but they also feel that God might also make sense. But they have been lulled into an acceptance of the philosophy of empiricism by an educational system largely devoted to materialistic goals.

Science is very important to our modern world. To look down on such benefits would be foolish. But to forget the limits of science is even poorer thinking. Science is useful and productive, but it is not the final authority on knowledge. Much truth lies beyond the investigation of empirical observation and experiment. The existence of God, for example, lies within that realm.

But how does one come to grips with truth beyond science? In science, the facts are real and tangible. Beyond it, whatever truth might exist seems unworkable. This surely is the next logical question in the God/science controversy.

Vital Definitions

To properly understand how one can work with all truth, and not just the variety we see, smell or taste, the meaning of the word “truth” itself must be comprehended. In fact, three concepts commonly tossed about in discussions of God and science must be brought to sharp focus. They are: truth, proof and evidence.

Truth is defined as “that which conforms to fact or reality; that which is … has been, or must be.” Anything which intrinsically and absolutely exists is embodied in the term “truth.” As the dictionary states, “truth” is “that which is,” whether scientifically testable or not. Truth is truth even if no human minds perceive that it exists; and all truth, visible or not, is equally real.

Evidence is, as the dictionary defines it, “Clearness: an outward sign; indication ….” It is that which makes truth visible and clear to the human mind. The truth of electricity, for example, may not be clear and visible to a human mind until it can see, through the eye, the effect of the electricity on a physical object like a light bulb. That is evidence of electricity.

The real difference between scientific and supernatural truth lies not in the degree of validity of one truth over another, but in the inability of the human mind to see all truth with equal ease. We are physical beings, and our thinking mechanism receives its raw material only via the five physical senses. Therefore scientific truth is naturally seen. Supernatural evidence is just as real; but we simply do not have the senses to detect it automatically as we do physical fact.

Some truth, like many basic physical truths, can be so easily demonstrated that scientists call it scientific law. For others, the evidence is less available. Albert Einstein, for example, long sensed the truth of relativity before other scientists were able to provide empirical observational evidence.

Thus we see that man’s overall view of reality is naturally limited. Where the evidence is abundant, truth can be defined with considerable certainty. But in many cases it cannot. God is the supreme example. The truth of His existence clearly does not abound with physical evidence, at least not the irrefutable, objective type. Theoretically (and as the Bible does say), God’s handiwork as the Creator of the universe is physically visible. But as the long history of serious, sincere and conscientious scholars shows, physical evidence alone is inadequate. If one chooses to exclude from his thinking everything but empirical evidence, then he must intellectually recognize the well-established fact that there is no ladder by which a man can climb to a sure knowledge of God. Final proof must depend on the assistance we have received in God’s revelation.

Even if one finds this fact disappointing, revelation is a necessity to make the picture complete. It provides the basic dimension of certainty lacking in physical scientific evidence alone. Frankly, it is God’s responsibility to make His revelation both adequate and believable.

“But I Want Solid Proof!”

But of what value is revelation? Some say they can only trust something they can “prove” — like scientific evidence. And here we meet with a surprise. Revealed evidence can be proved exactly as scientific evidence can. There is no difference when one properly understands the real meaning of “proof.”

Most dictionaries have defined proof as, “The degree of cogency, arising from evidence, which convinces the mind of any truth or fact and produces belief.”

Proof is not absolute or intrinsic. It is entirely personal. It is in the “mind”; it “convinces”; it produces “belief.” And the key is “cogency.” Proof is the mental acceptance that something is sensible, reasonable, logical; in other words, cogent. Therefore it is completely subjective.

It is narrow-minded thinking to insist that proof to you “must” be proof to someone else. But it just can’t be. What may constitute “proof’ to one person may be woefully inadequate to another. Absolute proof simply does not exist. That is why science does not deal with absolute proof. It only seeks out and systematizes evidence that leads to an increasing level of probability.

But viewed as a personal matter, it is not difficult to realize why scientific evidence is no better at proving (producing a belief in) truth than is supernatural evidence. Whichever is the more cogent, logical, reasonable or sensible to an individual’s mind, provides the best “proof.” Some people accept meager evidence as solid proof, while others seem to have the capacity to remain unmoved in the presence of the very best evidence!

Some, as we have seen, resist the cogency of anything but physical, scientific evidence. But whether the evidence is empirical or not does not matter!

Cogency is the criterion, but for it to make sense, one must intelligently accept proof as a relative issue and reject science as the final authority in all knowledge. These are surely basic steps to philosophic stability.

Source: The Good News, January 1974

April 29, 2009

The Facts Behind The Fictional Da Vinci Code

 

150What do you know about “The Da Vinci Code?” Millions of words and thousands of commentaries have been written about a code that DaVinci might have created. So where do I begin to provide a meaningful commentary from a godly perspective on this craze? Perhaps with three words: “It’s a novel!” That means – simply and plainly – the book is a made-up story.

In 2006, this book was made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks. It was, of course, a highly controversial film that whetted the appetites of conspiracy buffs worldwide and fueled already present doubts and misconceptions of those who do not know or believe the Word of God.

The Da Vinci Code’s blasphemy is nothing new. It’s just another highly promoted, celebrity-enhanced, big budget effort to discredit God and His Word. It is a compilation of half-truths and heart-felt heresies being sold to biblically illiterate seekers, particularity in denominational church settings where gullible participants involve themselves for the love and acceptance of a compromised collective. Let’s have a closer look at the novel.

Is Judas the betrayer a myth?

This book is too poorly founded to even have the title of pseudo history. Dan Brown simply pulls things out of the air. The opening page’s claim of historical reality served to confuse millions, and reading further, one witnesses a radically different view of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. It even portrays Judas, not as a traitor to Jesus Christ, but as a hero. Imagine that!

There have also been headlines in the past about the gospel of Judas being found in Egypt. It is estimated to have been put there some nearly 2,000 years ago, with 13 sheets in 1,000 fragments being found. But is this really so important to all of us? Does our salvation depend upon a tattered and worn document, maybe a couple of thousand years old? Is there any credence we can give to those writings? Do we really know what these fraudulent documents are all about, and which ones to believe?

We have to be careful of a deeper deceit here. If  modern Christianity were preaching the truth the way it should, these writings would not have much of an impact at all. But the whole world is deceived, and that includes religion. We need to be proving all things in this very, very information-glutted age when there’s no telling what we may be reading.

The biggest problem however is that we simply don’t know the Bible. Do you know the difference between the real gospel and a counterfeit gospel? You have to, by proving all things, as God says. Organized religion won’t help you because their deceit is just shocking. And now people are digging these things out of caves, and somehow they capture the imagination of the world with what they find.

But do you know something? Every single one of them is really attacking the Bible, and attacking the Christ of the Bible. They’re anti-Bible, and they’re anti-God. But if we are going to be defenders of the truth for God, we’re going to have to begin to speak out on these issues.

Here is an excerpt from The Da Vinci Code:

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Some people may fall for such words, but they’re wrong and you can prove it! This character says: “History has never had a definitive version…” and that is absolutely, TOTALLY false! It has had a definitive version. The problem is they have rejected it! Does anybody have proof of what they say? Does ANYBODY really prove their view?

Christ taunts the critics by saying, “Well, PROVE Me now herewith! God isn’t backing down from the critics, and neither should we.

A different Christ

Now, obviously these are different views of Jesus Christ, and Christians are supposed to follow Him, but how can you do so if you don’t know Him and if you don’t know which books He inspired? And He absolutely, dogmatically states that He did! Do you honestly believe that His real teachings come from a lost gospel someone dug out of a cave? Does that really make any sense?

Notice 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now,  can you prove that? Do you know what scripture really is? Is the lost book of Judas, Mary, Philip, or Thomas scripture? No, they are not! Brown’s book focuses on goddess worship, or worship of the divine feminine. He ties this pagan mysticism to Mary Magdalene. I mean really, he would have us believe that Christ and Mary Magdalene were active participants in a pagan sex cult? Brown is so far out in left field, he takes his proof from Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” assuring gullible readers that it is Mary Magdalene sitting next to Christ, not John.

What is really diabolical about such statements is that Jesus Christ being involved in a pagan sex cult instantly disqualifies Him as being our Savior. Remember, He offered Himself as a sinless offering for all of mankind. If He was into such debauchery, we all  can fold up our tents and go fishing. There really wouldn’t be any more point in believing, would there? But there is not a single shred of evidence for what is being said!

Do you know your Bible?

If you don’t know the Bible, then some of these conspiracy theories start to sound pretty credible. I mean look, isn’t the Bible then just the work of men? Without scriptural knowledge, how do you dispel your doubts, even though Brown doesn’t offer any proof but just makes bold, blatant statements?

Now think about this! The author takes his proof from a Da Vinci painting, of all things! It would be ridiculously laughable, if this subject weren’t so serious! Is that really proof enough for the reader? Does such nonsense take precedence over the inspired Word of God? Does a painting by a man who didn’t know much about the Bible and God, in the first place really hold vital clues for us about God? Even if it did, who says this one interpretation is the right one? Wouldn’t many people have many interpretations? No, what we should look for are the bold statements made by Jesus Christ throughout the Bible. He tells us that this Bible was preserved, the Old Testament by the Jews, and the New Testament by the Greeks. That’s proven by the Bible, itself.

Was Mary a church leader?

Brown plays upon the Gnostic legends that Christ wanted Mary to head the Church, but Peter and the other apostles (painted as chauvinists) prevented this from happening after Christ’s death. Legends say Mary became a famous preacher founding Christian communities.

Notice, it is legend that says so. Nowhere in the Bible – our most reliable historical account of the life of Jesus – does it claim that Jesus and Mary were married. Nowhere in the writings of the early leaders of Christianity is there any reference to any such “marriage.” And amazingly, nowhere in the Gnostic writings – about which Dan Brown so endearingly speaks – is there an statement that Jesus and Mary were married. This error in Brown’s book makes Mary Magdalene out to be more important than Jesus Christ, and really, this fact has attracted a large feminist audience to the book.

But if you know anything about the Bible, then this is about as contemptuous as anything ever written. God the Father is in charge, and then Jesus Christ, not some human female. Luke 8:1-3 tells us that Christ actually cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. That should tell us something about her previous mental and spiritual condition, until God healed her.

Those same demons that influenced Mary now still roam this earth and heavily influence men, and even possess them. Doesn’t your Bible say that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)? But who believes that anyways?

Isaiah 46:9-10 says,

“I am God, and there’s none like Me.” There’s no one in God’s class! It is He that reveals secrets about what is to happen in the latter days…Dan. 2:38. You should be able to prove your Bible alone by comparing prophecy to news magazines or news sources! One-third of your Bible is prophecy, and 90% of that prophecy is being fulfilled today, so it’s easy to prove that God is prophesying today. The books of Daniel and Revelation are for the end time, as is the main focus of all the Major and Minor Prophets.

Why don’t we believe?

Secular and religious people stumble because they hate the government of God. In many cases, they don’t even know what it is. They assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a supernatural God — without the scientific proof they demand on material questions. Most fundamentalists believers simply assume that this book is NOT the infallible Word of God. Have they proven this fact? Absolutely not! Religious people lean the other way. They simply assume the Bible is right, and when pressed with heavy questions, they have no good answers. In either case. you just can’t make statements and not prove them. Does such a stance  even make sense? But God always offers proof, we simply have to look for it!

A warning for man today!

In John 5:39, Jesus Christ told the Jews in His day to search the scriptures, because in them is eternal life. This was a warning. If we, like the Jews of old, think we have eternal life, we aught to consider what happened to them. They entered into a holocaust, with all kinds of cannibalism, pain and untold suffering. This is merely a type of what’s coming upon the world in this end time – the great Tribulation. The Jews were warned but didn’t listen. They believed in a false religion without evidence or proof. They didn’t know Christ, and the world today doesn’t know Christ. They talk about His person, but they don’t talk about His message.

But shouldn’t we know that message inside and out? Christ said, “The scriptures testify of Me. “Search the scriptures,” He said. That means both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which are solidly intertwined together. Many New Testament quotes are from the Old Testament. Don’t throw it away because Christ said we ought to live by EVERY word of God (Matthew 4:4). Why would we be given half a Bible that is correct, and half that is not correct? Does this make sense? No wonder they err, not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29). They should know the scriptures, but they don’t, nor the power of God.

God says to “prove all things” and He gives people every opportunity to do so. The proof is abundant and it’s not even that hard to prove the Bible if we’ll just apply our minds and work at it. That knowledge than change our lives and we’ll know exactly what this Bible is all about.

April 18, 2009

Textual Criticism: The Folly Of Biblical Scholars

God Breathed?  

God Breathed?

The Bible—more than any other religious writings of similar age—has drawn intense examination. Critics write off this text as the uninspired writings of an unlearned people. They claim the Bible is full of contradiction and historical inaccuracies. Some go so far as to say that this book is a carefully contrived sham to keep tight-fisted control over mindless people. Others say the Bible is a work of fiction. What is truly appalling is that many theologians agree. Understand that there is nothing new here. The scriptures have been under violent attack for centuries—by scholars, philosophers, cynics and the religious.

A particularly noteworthy passage is the long ending of Mark 16:9-20, among many others which are attacked. Skeptics and critics alike have found grist for their mill in the assertion that Mark presents an inconsistency, and poses a problem in not properly fitting in after the eighth verse. However, leaving out the last verses poses the significant problemof the book not coming to an orderly conclusion, as does EVERY other book in the Bible. Human writings are filled with error, but the Bible is COMPLETE, INSPIRED and WHOLLY PRESERVED through the power of God. These verses are an INSPIRED PART of the Word of God. 

Proof of legitimacy

The longer ending to Mark’s gospel is quoted extremely early in church history. Mark 16:19 is quoted as part of Mark’s account by Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” (Bk. iii, 10, 6) between A.D. 182 and 188. It says:

“Also, towards the conclusion of his gospel, Mark says, ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven and sits on the right hand of God.”

Not only did Irenaeus accept it as a part of Mark’s gospel when arguing with “heretics,” but, says Hastings: “No writer before Eusebius is known to have rejected them, and their presence in all later MSS [manuscripts] shows that the successors of Eusebius, in spite of his great authority, did not follow his judgment in the matter.” (Eusebius was the court favorite and the church historian in the days of Emperor Constantine.) These facts point plainly to the great antiquity of the longer ending as preserved in the common English versions. 

There are allusions to these disputed  verses in even earlier writings, although not as true quotations. Some have traced various versions of Mark’s ending back to the earliest extant manuscripts. 

The rise of textual criticism

Hostility toward the Bible has a cause. It begins with modern Bible criticism, referred to as biblical scholarship. This sounds harmless enough, because it makes their occupation appear more acceptable.Yet it is noteworthy that the literature of other religions is not subject to scholarly scrutiny. Now why would that be? The answer is simple. The Bible claims to be the express Word of God, a claim no other religion makes. So if one could prove that the Bible is not the Word of God, then there would be no need to read or follow it. Isn’t that the real reason Bible scholars have worked so hard at uncovering any flaw which could be proof that it is not the literal Word of God? Critics will deny this assertion, but it’s the truth. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

“The decline of reformed scholarship started with  B. B. Warfield’s adoption of the Westcott and Hort textual critical theory and his redefinition of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy to make it apply only to autographs. Warfield’s concept of Sola Autographa unfortunately caught on, and became the new paradigm in the textual critical exercise of reconstructing (or rather deconstructing) the inspired text. 

A textual critic engaged upon his business is like a dog hunting for fleas. That’s because determining authenticity on the basis of style omits the fact that at least a 10,000 word sample is required to make stylistic determinations. Verses 9-20 of Mark 16 fall about 9900 words short of this, making the argument an exercise in despair.

Still, this does nothing to prevent critics from concluding that textual variations call the Christian traditions of inspiration and inerrancy into serious question. Their expectation is that God would prevent such variations as the scriptures are reproduced. And since variations do, in fact, occur they say, we must be mistaken about the meaning of the scriptures and ultimately the very character of God. 

Such misguided statements should be laughed off. As editors of current critical texts — textual critics are simply modernists who couldn’t make spirit-guided decisions if their life depended on it. They are no better than their texts — carnal men producing a non-spiritual text. They forget the admonition that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). To affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the original writings while casting doubt on the authority of the Bible is just plain silly”  (fepbc.edu.sg).

A unique book

The Bible is radically different than all other so-called sacred literature. This book of books asserts that it is the divinely inspired writings of a supreme Deity. No other sacred literature makes such a claim. The Bible is a book full of personal quotes from a very active, living God:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The God of the Bible declares the supremacy of His own power. There is none like Him. He is capable of initiating and carrying out a purpose on Earth. A real understanding of God’s purpose shows that there are stupendous and wonderful things ahead for all mankind. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

Look at the issue in context. “Of the 20,000 lines of Scripture in the New Testament only about 40 lines read differently between the accepted manuscripts. That means that only 0.2% of the New Testament is disputed. None of these affect any major doctrines and most are stylistic or spelling differences. Translation of the Bible also takes into account quotations from early church fathers who were close to the original manuscripts. There are around 86,489 New Testament citations by church fathers in the 2nd and 3rd century. These quotes cover the entire New Testament except for about 11 verses (churchhopping.com).

And given the absurdly small amount of text not quoted, does it seem believable that ALL scripture must be quoted to be counted trustworthy? Is there not enough information in a New Testament which far surpasses any other ancient document when it comes to consistency and accuracy of translation?

Yes the Bible comprises the full, word-for-word, truthful, inspired, inerrant Word of God, which is the supreme and final authority in doctrine and life. It is God-breathed, factual, free from error, pure, uncorrupted, eternal, and powerful. It stands out from all other books as THE preeminent book. It is not simply about God … but is FROM God; it is His message to us. We can trust that message because Jesus prayed:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17. That is why Jesus spoke of the jot-and-tittle infallibility (or verbal inerrancy) of the Scriptures in Matthew 5:18.

The Apostle Paul also spoke of the divinely inspired Scriptures in saying they were “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16-17). In other words, they were to be trusted in all things because they are for all true Christians, of all ages.

If we do not have an infallible and an inerrant Scripture, then our supreme and final authority of faith and practice is all a myth. It then also makes God out to be a liar. I for one will trust in the one who makes the grand claim of inerrancy, as both I and the critics face this mighty Being one day at the judgment. We don’t want to find out we’re wrong at that time, do we?

April 13, 2009

Was Jonah In The Belly Of A Whale, Or A Great Fish?

Editor’s Note: In this article I introduce two scriptures (Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40) to answer “apparent incongruities” (seemingly impossible scenarios) and to apply apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith) in affirming the trustworthiness of the Bible.

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

The “apparent incongruity” is the account of a reluctant prophet named Jonah who was swallowed by a fish and yet remained alive in its belly for three days.

 The Book of Jonah has been described as a parable, an allegory, and a satire. However, this is an extremely faithless approach to the scriptures. A large proportion of all modern criticism of the Bible comes from the assumption that miracles do not occur. Skeptical theologians explain every miracle in Scripture away by either tacit rejection or naturalistic explanation. This leads to such ludicrous, varied, and contradictory explanations that the biblical scholar finds ever further justification in the miraculous over the ridiculous!

There are plausible explanations for questions, but we must look at this event with knowledge of God’s miraculous power. Could He have prepared a great fish to be in the vicinity of the floundering ship, to swallow Jonah in the raging sea, then in the time appointed transport him to shore and vomit him up? Absolutely! As the all-powerful Creator God, He is in no way limited by what He created. 

But now what about the type of creature used to swallow Jonah? The original Hebrew wording of Jonah 1:17 is accurately translated in the King James Version as “a great fish.” The Old Testament translation produced by the Jewish Publication Society also refers to this creature as “a great fish.” 

We read that “The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17, King James Version).

Some controversy arises over the King James translation of Matthew 12:40. This verse says

“He (Jesus Christ) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, just as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” (Matthew 12:40.)

But the fact that Jonah was in the WHALE’S belly was only an assumption on the part of the translators. The New King James Version correctly renders this phrase as “in the belly of the GREAT FISH.” 

A whale is not a fish

Since a whale is a mammal rather than a fish, does this point to a contradiction between Jonah 1:17 and Matt. 12:40? No, and here’s why.

Realize that the Old Testament is written in Hebrew except for small portion in Aramaic (book of Daniel). The New Testament is written in Greek, not English. Neither the KJV or any other translation determines the meaning in English above the original language. Both “whale” and “great fish” are English translations of the original words.

Strong’s Dictionary says the Greek word translated “whale” is ketos (pronounced kay-tos), and means “a huge fish (as gaping for prey).” 

Smith’s Bible Dictionary” makes the following comments about the word WHALE: “Probably the fish which swallowed Jonah was some large kind of shark, or fish especially provided.”

“There are at least two species of Mediterranean marine life that are known to be able to swallow a man whole. These are the cachalot and the white shark. Both creatures are known to prowl the Mediterranean and have been known to Mediterranean sailors since antiquity. Aristotle described both species in his 4th Century B.C.” Historia Animalium (gotquestions.org).

 

The Easton Bible Dictionary says the “white shark is sometimes found 30 feet in length.” [Robinson, Lexicon  (from Barnes’ Notes)] states: “This event took place in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between Joppa and Tarshish, when he was fleeing FROM Nineveh. It is said that the “whale” seldom passes into that sea, and that its throat is too small to admit a man. It is probable, therefore, that a fish of the “shark kind” is intended. Sharks have been known often to swallow a man entire. The fish in the book of Jonah is described merely as a “great fish,” without specifying the kind . – Letusreason.org

The evidence supports the conclusion — that it was some kind of large fish, and not a whale, which swallowed Jonah. In any case, the Bible says God  God specifically “prepared” (mahnah—appointed, constituted, made ready) a great fish (Gesenius, 1847, p. 486). So another argument is that Jonah being swallowed was a divine miracle and thus the type of creature  God used could have been whatever sea life was available or He created a special (massive) creature to serve his purpose of causing Jonah to repent and to carry out His command of preaching.

“The same term (“prepared”) is employed to refer to additional direct manipulations initiated by God. He prepared a plant (4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement wind (4:8) [Wigram, 1890, p. 733]. George Cansdale was correct in concluding: “[T]here is no point in speculating about the full physical explanation of an incident that primarily is metaphysical, i.e., miraculous” (1975, 5:925, emp. added). McClintock and Strong agree: “[T]he transaction is plainly miraculous, and no longer within the sphere of zoological discussion” (1881, 10:972). Jonah’s survival after being inside a sea creature is no more remarkable than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the “burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:27).” (apologeticspress.org)

A similar instance can also be found in Book of Numbers, chapter 22, versus 28 through 30 where God gives Balaam’s donkey the power of human speech in order to have a conversation with Balaam.

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