Sunday, April 30, 2006
Instead, I have decided to post Greg Koukl's Stand to Reason newsletter called Solid Ground. The May/June issue is on this topic and is aptly entitled, "The DaVinci Code Cracks".
Greg is one of the best Christian apologist lecturers (IMO) that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to in person. The following newsletter is truly excellent and well researched. He has carefully and masterfully refuted the false claims made by Brown's book.
The DaVinci Code Cracks
“Everyone loves a conspiracy.” – Robert Langdon, Harvard
Religious Symbologist, The Da Vinci Code
GUARD THE TREASURE
The Da Vinci Code Cracks
• According to The Da Vinci
Code, the Bible as we know it
today – along with Jesus’
divinity – was fabricated at the
Council of Nicea for political
reasons. The authentic
accounts of Jesus were
destroyed. However, there is
not a shred of evidence for
these claims. According to
those actually present at Nicea
– Eusebius and Athanasius in
particular – Christ’s deity was
the reason for Nicea, not the
result of it.
• Writings from the first three
centuries are replete with references
to Jesus’ divinity. Even
the heretical Gnostics and the
Modalists got this detail right.
• The New Testament Canon was
never an issue at Nicea because
the legitimacy of the four
gospels had been decided
centuries before. The Gnostic
Gospels that Brown supports –
like Thomas, Mary, and Philip –
• None of the canonical Gospels
report the most climactic event
of the century, the fall of
Jerusalem in 70 A.D., strong
evidence each was completed
before then within decades, not
centuries, of the crucifixion.
• No evidence suggests the New
Testament evolved over time
through countless translations
and revisions. Instead, the academic
analysis shows it to be
the most reliable document
I never thought it would happen. There I was, at a dead standstill in the middle of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles traffic, and I didn’t care. The gridlock could continue all day as far as I was concerned.
I wasn’t complaining. I wasn’t fidgeting. I wasn’t even paying attention. Instead, I was riveted to the words flowing from my in-dash CD player. A talented reader was keeping me spell-bound with a tale of murder, suspense, and intrigue.
The story was called The Da Vinci Code.
I’m not alone. To date nearly 50 million copies of Dan Brown’s thriller have kept the midnight oil burning around the world. And those were the hardbound edition. The soft cover just came out with an initial release of five million. And then there’s the movie.
No question about it, The Da Vinci Code is the blockbuster hit who’s only rival in publishing success is the Bible. Which is ironic. Dan Brown’s tale is frontal assault on the Jesus of Christianity that millions have placed their simple trust in for 2000 years.
Brown dishes up a convoluted conspiracy of corrupted Gospels, doctrinal deception, theological suppression, book burning, the Holy Grail and, climactically, Jesus’ secret marriage to Mary Magdalene whose progeny remain to this day. The Vatican lurks in the shadows, of course – maneuvering, manipulating, even murdering – suppressing the real truth for two millennia.
JESUS GETS AN “UPGRADE”
According to Brown, the epicenter of the massive deception foisted on Christians the world over is the Council of Nicea, which met in 325 A.D. at the behest of Constantine. From this meeting “sprang the most profound moment in Christian history.”
Here are the “facts” related to us through Dan Brown’s character, the historian Sir Leigh Teabing:
“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…
“[Jesus’] life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land.”
Teabing paused to sip his tea and then placed the cup back on the mantel. “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.
“Who chose which gospels to include?” Sophie asked.
“Aha!” Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.
“Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition, and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea.”
Sophie had heard of it only insofar as its being the birthplace of the Nicene Creed.
“At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course the divinity of Christ.”
“I don’t follow. His divinity?”
“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”
“Not the Son of God?”
“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”
“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”
“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added….
“And I assume devout Christians send you hate mail on a daily basis?”
“Why would they?” Teabing countered.
“The vast majority of educated Christians know the history of their faith….”
“The twist is this,” Teabing said, talking faster now. “Because Constantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history.” Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. “Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.”
“Fortunately for historians,” Teabing said, “some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi….The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications,
clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda – to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base.” (231-234)
Though this is a work of fiction, Teabing’s testimony has rocked the confidence of many Christians. It’s understandable. There is an implicit trust relationship between writers of historical fiction and their readers. Readers expect an imaginary tale, but they trust the background information to be accurate. They count on the author to do his homework.
Brown invites that trust. An alert placed just before the Prologue under the bolded heading “FACT” reads, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
It’s no wonder Christians are shaken. Teabing’s account is so lucid, so compelling, so convincingly told. The more controversial details are offered up as common knowledge to insiders, academics, historians, and intellectuals in general. Only the foolish faithful are still in the dark, unwitting dupes of Constantine and the Vatican.
But Dan Brown has betrayed our trust. For alert readers this is obvious even before second-checking the details.
How is it physically possible, for example – given that Jesus’ life “was recorded by thousands,” with more than eighty gospels being freely circulated for hundreds of years – for Constantine to gather up all of the handwritten copies from every nook and cranny of the Roman empire by the 4th century and destroy the vast majority of them?
With all the conveniences of modern technology at my disposal, I couldn’t do that with yesterday’s LA Times circulating in Orange County. How could Constantine’s minions do it by hand on foot over the entire civilized world of that time? Previous Roman rulers – Diocletian in 303 and Maximian in 304i – had tried and failed miserably.
Another question: If the deity of Christ was an idea invented by Constantine and completely foreign to Christ’s followers who viewed Him as a mere mortal, what explains the “relatively close vote” at Nicea? (In actual fact, with only two Egyptian bishops dissenting – Theonas and Secundus – out of 318 bishops,ii the vote wasn’t close at all.)
Again, if the early records of Jesus life are so corrupted and compromised with “countless translations, additions, and revisions,” if “history has never had a definitive version of the book,” from where does Teabing derive his reliable, authentic, unimpeachable biographical information about Jesus?
Finally, how does Teabing know that thousands of Jesus’ followers wrote accounts of His life if the great bulk of these records were destroyed? This is the classic problem for conspiracy theorists: If all evidence was eradicated, how do they know it was there in the first place?
These problems are obvious on first glance. After a little sleuthing, however, more glaring discrepancies surface.
Brown claims Constantine’s book-burning wasn’t completely successful, that the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found in caves in Qumran “highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications, clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda – to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ.”
Brown might be forgiven for not getting the date right (the first scrolls were discovered in the 1940s, not ‘50s). He cannot be forgiven, however, for another misstep: The Dead Sea Scrolls say nothing of Jesus. There were no gospels in Qumran. Not one shred or shard or bit of pot mention His name. This is a complete fabrication.
THE COUNCIL OF NICEA
A full accounting of the misinformation, falsehoods, inventions, and distortions littering Brown’s fiction is not possible here. I am not concerned here with Brown’s fanciful conspiracy tales of the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene’s alleged marriage to Jesus, nor with the secret identity of His progeny living now in Paris under cover and out of reach of the Vatican. Another issue is more foundational.
None of those claims can be taken seriously unless Brown first undermines the historical legitimacy of the canonical Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Only then can his revisionist history go forward. Sir Teabing is Brown’s mouthpiece for this effort. Teabing claims these records were tampered with by Constantine at the Council of Nicea. To advance his own political agenda, the Roman emperor rewrote history, destroying the true records that cast Jesus as a mere mortal and replacing them with documents that advanced the man of Nazareth as the divine Son of God.
Since this is the pivot upon which Brown’s entire yarn spins, it’s vital to ask, “What really happened at Nicea?”
If you want to know the true details of any event, it’s best to consult those who were actually there. Eusebius of Caesarea and Athanasius, archdeacon of Alexandria, both wrote extensively about the controversy. They were also the central figures of the theological debate, along with the presbyter Arius, also of Alexandria.
The basic facts are these.3 Emperor Constantine summoned the Council and presided over it from June 14 to July 25, 325 A.D. 318 bishops attended along with two presbyters each. Three main points were discussed: the Easter question, the Meletian schism, and the divinity of Christ. Since this last issue was the precipitating reason for convening the council in the first place, it could hardly have been fabricated by the Council, as Teabing asserts.
In fact, everyone in attendance at Nicea, including the Arians, regarded Jesus as the “Son of God,” however variously they may have understood its meaning. Arius denied the full deity of Christ, true enough, but didn’t think Jesus was a mere mortal. Rather, he argued, Jesus was a unique creature, a human body with no rational human soul. Instead, He was indwelled by a created, pre-incarnate spirit called the Logos. Ironically for Brown, then, the dissenting party led by Arius denied both the deity and the true humanity of Christ.
After a pitched debate and failed attempts at compromise offered by Eusebius, the orthodox party prevailed. The vote, as noted before, was a landslide with only two bishops opposing the final accords, affirming what had been taught from the beginning. Jesus was not a mere man; He was the son of God.
Surprisingly, even the early heretics agreed on this score.
THE HERETICS SPEAK
The first great doctrinal challenge to the church was Gnosticism. It existed in seminal form in the 1st century. In the 2nd century, though, it became a full-blown competitor with apostolic Christianity.
Though Gnosticism was a complex mixture of beliefs, at its core was a radical dualism between spirit and matter in which matter was inherently evil and spirit inherently good.
For the “Christian” forms of Gnosticism, then, it was unthinkable Christ could have a real physical body. Instead, some claimed, He only appeared embodied, giving rise to a heresy called Docetism (from the Greek dokeo, “to appear” or “seem”).
This raised problems for the incarnation. Note John’s warning in the face of the growing tendency to deny Jesus’ humanity: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” What was the test? “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:1-2). Early on, belief in a genuine incarnation was a test of orthodoxy. Mere appearances wouldn’t do.
Here’s the important point: Gnosticism affirmed that Jesus was divine. It fell afoul of Christianity in its denial of Jesus’ true human mortality, not His divine nature. This proves that Jesus’ divinity was not an invention of Constantine in the 4th century.
Even more damaging for Dan Brown, the vast majority of so-called “lost” gospels (particularly those from Nag Hammadi) were Gnostic in nature. Any unqualified appeal by Brown to Gnostic writings, then, is self-defeating. Many Gnostics would never, even in principle, affirm that Jesus was “a mortal prophet…a man nonetheless.”
Modalism surfaced next. It insisted Jesus was God, but denied any real distinction between the divine persons. Rather, Jesus was one mode of manifestation of God. In the Old Testament God revealed Himself as Father, in the New Testament as Son, and since Pentecost as the Holy Spirit.
The testimony of the heretics is an embarrassment for Brown. Both of these early heresies, in play for more than a 100 years before the reign of Constantine, affirmed the full divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. his is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect if Brown’s assertions were correct.
But there’s more:
• The book of Romans, an uncontested Pauline epistle written c. 55 A.D., shows that the notion of Jesus’ divinity was circulating within 20 years of the crucifixion. Note the opening: “…declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 1:4
• Ignatius (AD 110-130) affirms Jesus as God: “We also have a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word before time began, but who afterwards became also man of Mary the virgin.” – The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians
• Irenaeus (AD 115-190) writes: “...in order that through Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow’...” – Against Heresies X.1
• Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) writes: “In these books, then, of the prophets we found Jesus our Christ foretold as coming, born of a virgin…and being called the Son of God.” – The First Apology of Justin, XXXI
The ancient documents – available for anyone to read – speak clearly on this issue. Christ’s establishment as the Son of God was not “officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea.” Rather, for three centuries before Constantine, massive numbers of early followers of Christ – both inside of orthodoxy and out – believed Jesus was “the Son of God.”
CONSTANTINE’S GREAT DECEPTION?
Brown is mistaken on still another claim. He asserts, “The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.” This is a remarkable statement because the canon of Scripture was never at issue at Nicea, for good reason. For all practical purposes, the legitimacy of the four standard gospels had been decided
Though the Old Testament canon had been fixed before the time of Christ, the formal concept of New Testament canon did not develop until the 2nd century. Early on, the authoritative “rule” (or “canon”) was the teaching of either the Apostles commissioned directly by Christ, or those who were companions of apostles and wrote under their authority and tutelage (e.g., John Mark, companion of Peter and author of the Gospel of Mark, or Luke, thecompanion of Paul).4
When the last apostle died, the emphasis naturally shifted to the written record of their instruction, the Gospels and letters (epistles) they left behind. Therefore, the preeminent question about any work was, Did it have apostolic authority?
Controversy arose only when a Gnostic named Marcion (c. 150 A.D.) flatly rejected, for theological reasons, works that until then had been accepted as authentic for nearly a century.
In the debate that ensued, v the early church identified three categories of text. The “Homologumena” consisted of those books that received unanimous support by all church leadership. This included 20 of the 27 New Testament books, including all four Gospels.
The “Antilegomena” were those contested. They received support from some members of church leadership, but not others. Some were ultimately rejected (Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, the Second Epistle of Clement). Others were ultimately accepted (Revelation, Jude, James, Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John).
The final group – called variously the Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, or simply the “heretical books” – were “set aside as altogether worthless and impious,” according to Eusebius. These included hundreds of documents that received no support from the church and were considered completely spurious by all orthodox fathers. This group included more than 50 (not 80) apocryphal gospels, with the Gospel of Thomas specifically singled out by Eusebius as part of this group.
The most ancient catalog of canonical works is the Muratorian Canon (c. AD 200). This record was discovered by Ludovico Muratori in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, and published by him in 1740. Though the first portion of the fragment is missing, it mentions Luke and John specifically as the third and fourth Gospels – strongly implying Matthew and Mark came before it. In fact, Irenaeus quotes directly from all four canonical Gospels 30 years before the Muratorian list.
The inclusion of John is ironic in light of Teabing’s claims. The fourth Gospel is an irritation to liberal critics because of its “high Christology.” It is replete with mentions of Jesus as the Son of God, an idea Teabing says didn’t surface for another 155 years.
If Brown is correct about the Nicean conspiracy, we would not expect to see the four canonical Gospels singled out and affirmed early in the historical record. Yet that’s exactly what we do find.
Works like the Gospel of Phillip or the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) – which feature so prominently in Brown’s novel – were never taken seriously by the early church. Rather, they were opposed for a very good reason. They, like the other Pseudepigrapha, were late-comers. They lacked any connection with the original apostles and contradicted the records written by those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life.
Why should we trust the Gospel of Phillip, for example, against Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John? Do we have evidence Philip and Mary are early, authentic, and reliable? How do we know they are “unaltered,” as Teabing claims? Brown cannot just say these things; he must show these things. Unless, of course, he’s simply writing a work of fiction
No, the actual historical evidence shows an early consensus on the Gospels. The canonical Gospels had broad acceptance and were in early use by the church. The Gnostic Gospels like Thomas, Mary, and Philip were not. Nor were the “more than eighty gospels considered for the New Testament.” Which is why, in actual fact, they were never even considered.
NO LOST BOOKS
Still, many people are disturbed by the possibility of lost books of the Bible. Have archaeologists uncovered ancient biblical texts that cast doubt on the current canon of Scripture? Is it possible the Bible is incomplete?
These questions can be answered without ever doing any research. No ancient tomes need to be read, no works of antiquity perused. Curiously, the entire issue can be answered by careful consideration of one word: Bible.
The whole question of allegedly lost books of the Bible hinges on what the word Bible means. To a Christian, “Bible” means the inspired Word of God, which includes the notion of God’s authorship and His miraculous preservation.
The second possible definition of “Bible” concedes no supernatural ground. According to this view, the Bible is not God’s inspired and inerrant word. Rather, it is merely a statement of human beliefs adopted as creed by early Christian leaders.
On this view, the Bible represents a collection of books chosen by the early church to represent its own beliefs. A book that didn’t make the cut was rejected for one reason: early Christians didn’t accept its theology. The cause was human and political, not divine and supernatural. This is Dan Brown’s view.
So, the options are these: Either the word “Bible” means those books that are divinely inspired, or it means a mere a human document representing the beliefs of a religious group known as Christians. Given these two definitions, could any books of the Bible be lost?
Whether the supernatural claim is accurate or not, the first definition of “Bible” allows for no lost books because God cannot lose something. The lost books thesis would be reduced to this: “Certain books that almighty God was responsible to preserve got lost.” If the Bible is the Word of God (the first definition), then God’s power guarantees no portion of it could ever be misplaced.
Could there be lost books given the second definition, that the Bible is of human origin, a collection of works reflecting the beliefs of early church leaders? The lost books thesis would be reduced to this: “Early church leaders rejected certain books as unrepresentative of their beliefs, that actually reflected their beliefs.” The contradiction is obvious. If the Bible is a collection of books that early church leaders decided would represent their point of view, they have the final word on what is included. Any books they rejected were never part of their Bible to begin with. Even by the second definition lost books of the Bible are a misnomer.
“Lost books” advocates often point out that rediscovered texts were missing because the fathers suppressed them. Bible critics think this strengthens their case. Instead it destroys their position by proving the “lost books” were not lost, but discarded. The early church acted fully within its authority when it rejected as non-canonical the Gospel of Thomas, for example. The leaders rightfully decided it did not represent their beliefs.
Has archaeology unearthed previously unknown ancient texts? Certainly. These books may be interesting, noteworthy, and valuable. The rediscovery of manuscripts such as the Gospel of Thomas is significant. Such books might be lost books of antiquity, great finds, even wonderful pieces of literature, but they are not lost books of the Bible.
DATING THE GOSPELS
Even though there can be no lost books of the Bible, this doesn’t ensure the existing historical accounts of Jesus’ life are accurate. That relies on another argument showing the canonical gospels were written early, boosting their credibility over second century competitors like the Gospels of Philip and Mary.
This argument hinges on two facts virtually uncontested in academic circles. First, the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were written by the same author. It is irrelevant to my point whether or not the author actually was Luke the “beloved physician” and companion of Paul, as the early church believed. The important thing is that Luke/Acts form a literary unit. Second, the Apostle Paul was executed sometime during the Neronian persecution of the mid-60s. This also is not in dispute.
Here’s the argument. First, the narrative in Acts ends abruptly with Paul in jail during his first Roman imprisonment, around 62. Why does it end this way? Most likely because this is when the account was written. Second, Luke’s Gospel was written before Acts, placing it in the early ‘60s to late 50s. Third, even the most liberal critics place Mark and Matthew before Luke, with Mark generally considered the most primitive.
This places the first gospels in the mid to late-50s and possibly much earlier, putting them, on the outside, only 25 years from the crucifixion – powerful evidence for their reliability. The shorter the time, the less likely the distortion, the less chance for accretion of legend and fanciful stories, especially with so many first-hand witnesses still alive including most of the apostolic band.
Eminent New Testament scholar John A. T. Robinson gives another reason to be confident the Gospels were written early: one of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the period – the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and with it the collapse of institutional Judaism based on the temple – is never once mentioned as past fact.6
Since Luke recorded Jesus’ prophesy of the temple’s destruction (Luke 21:6), it is unthinkable he would not have pointed to its fulfillment had Jerusalem already fallen. Is it reasonable to believe not one Gospel writer would mention this to vindicate his message if the Gospels were late and this event had already taken place?
In fact, Robinson argues forcibly that every book of the New testament was completed before 70. By contrast, no one places the Gnostic contenders earlier than the second century. Teabing is wrong when he says, “There is no definitive account of the life of Jesus.” We have four of them, written early, being actively used by the church centuries before Constantine.
THE BIBLE’S "EVOLUTION”7
In The Da Vinci Code, Sir Leigh Teabing states the Bible “has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.” Is he right?
The question of the authenticity of the New Testament is not really a religious question; it’s an academic one. “Textual criticism” is the name for the scholarly method used to test all documents of antiquity, not just religious texts. It’s not a haphazard effort based on hopes and guesses, but a careful linguistic process allowing an alert critic to determine the extent of possible corruption of any work.
Success depends on two factors. First, how many copies exist? Second, how old are the manuscripts? If the numbers are few and the time gap wide between the original and the oldest copy, the autograph is harder to reconstruct. However, if there are many copies and the oldest are reasonably close in time to the original, the scholar can be more confident she’s pinpointed the exact wording of the initial manuscript.
For most documents of antiquity only a handful of manuscripts exist, some facing a time gap of 800-2000 years or more. Yet scholars are confident they can reconstruct the originals with a high degree of accuracy. In fact, virtually all our knowledge of ancient history depends on documents like these. Even Sir Teabing must rely on this process to form educated opinions about the ancient past.
The manuscript evidence for the New Testament, by comparison, is stunning. The most recent count (1980) shows 5,366 separate Greek manuscripts. These are represented by early fragments, uncial codices (manuscripts in capital Greek letters bound together in book form), and minuscules (small Greek letters in cursive style).8
Among the nearly 3,000 minuscule fragments are 34 complete New Testaments dating from the 9th to the 15th Centuries.9
Uncial manuscripts providing virtually complete New Testaments date back to the 4th Century and earlier. Codex Sinaiticus is dated c. 340.10 The nearly complete Codex Vaticanus is the oldest, dated c. 325-350.11 Codex Alexandrinus contains the
whole Old Testament and a nearly complete New Testament and dates from the late 4th Century to the early 5th Century.
The most fascinating evidence comes from fragments dated before the time of Constantine. The Chester Beatty Papyri contains most of the New Testament and is dated mid-3rd Century.xii The Bodmer Papyri II collection, whose discovery was announced in 1956, includes the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John and
much of the last seven chapters. It dates from A.D. 200 or earlier.13
The most amazing find of all, however, is a small portion of John 18:31-33, discovered in Egypt. Known as the John Rylands Papyri and barely three inches square, it represents the earliest known copy of any part of the New Testament. The papyri is dated on paleographical grounds at A.D. 117-138 (though it may even be
earlier),14 showing that the Gospel of John was circulated as far away as Egypt within 40-60 years of its composition.
Keep in mind that most of these ancient papyri are fragmentary. Only about 50 manuscripts contain the entire New Testament. Even so, the textual evidence is exceedingly rich, especially when compared to other works of antiquity.
Two other cross-checks on the accuracy of the manuscripts remain: 1) ancient versions and 2) patristic quotations, citations by early church Fathers.
Early in the history of the Church the Scriptures were translated into Latin. By the 3rd and 4th Centuries the New Testament had been translated into Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian, among others. These texts helped missionaries reach new cultures in their own language as the Gospel spread and the Church grew.15
Translations – called “versions” – help modern-day scholars answer questions about the underlying Greek manuscripts.
In addition, there are ancient extra-biblical sources – catechisms, lectionaries, and quotes from the church Fathers – that cite Scripture at great length. Bruce Metzger notes, amazingly, “if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, [the patristic quotations] would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.”16
Since we have manuscripts from a range of dates, if the Gospels were radically transformed as Teabing says, we would expect to find discrepancies in the earlier manuscripts that have survived. But we do not. The early minuscules are virtually the same as the later uncials.
Dan Brown has not done his homework. He is simply mistaken in his assessment of the New Testament documents. The biblical records actually show more textual integrity than any other of the works of antiquity that historians like Sir Leigh Teabing must rely on to ply their trade. The Bible has not been changed. The claim that it has is nothing more than urban legend.
It ought to be clear by now that Dan Brown, though a clever author, is no historian. Virtually nothing in The DaVinci Code that touches Christianity or the Bible is sound.
Indeed, every time Sir Teabing says dismissively, “It’s a matter of historical record,” be prepared for a complete fabrication.
Enjoy the book, if you care to read it. But never forget, The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction, nothing more.
Guarding the Treasure,
Gregory Koukl, President
1 Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1910), 66, 68.
2 Schaff, Vol. III, 629.
3 Ibid., 622-633. Schaff drew extensively from the accounts of Eusebius and
4 “Nicea did not settle the canon, as one might expect, but the Scriptures were regarded
without controversy as the sure and immovable foundation of the orthodox
faith.” [emphasis added], Schaff, Vol. II, 523.
5 See Geisler, Norman L., Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), ch. 17, and Schaff, Vol. II., 516-524, for a
6 Robinson, John A. T., Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,
7 This material is taken from a larger treatment of this topic found in the January
2005 issue of Stand to Reason’s newsletter, Solid Ground.
8 Geisler, Norman L., Nix, William E., A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago:
Moody Press, 1986), 402.
10 Ibid., 392.
11 Ibid., 391.
12 Ibid., 389-390.
13 Metzger, Bruce M., The Text of the New Testament (New York and Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1968), 39-40.
14 Geisler and Nix, 388.
15 Barnett, Paul, Is the New Testament History? (Ann Arbor: Vine Books, 1986), 44.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
I just received an email telling me that the Sunrise Service at the Shore (briefly described here) will be rebroadcast on TV several times this weekend as well as over the next few weekends. I hope that you will take the time to view it (or record it) because it is an event that shouldn't be missed!
SUNRISE SERVICE ON TV: The Lord is greatly blessing the rebroadcast of our Easter Sunday Sunrise on the Shore Service. People are calling in asking about broadcast times, and e-mails are coming in as souls are being touched and saved throughout San Diego County by the numerous rebroadcasts of the service.
Catch the special guests (Katie Harmon, Miss America 2002; Bill Griffith, San Diego news anchor; and Ladainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers star running back), the message, and our music on this weekend's 1 hour rebroadcasts listed below.
Cox Cable - Channel 95
Sat., Apr 29 - 6:00 pm;
Sun., Apr 30 - 12:00pm; 6:00 pm
Adelphia - Channel 3
Sat., Apr 29 - 6:00 pm;
Sun., Apr 30 - 9:00 am
In addition, rebroadcasts will be running for several more weekends. Check future weekend TV listings.
In my discussions with several people who reject Christ's sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent resurrection to life, I have often found similarity in the reasons they hold for such rejection. When I share, explain and exhort the Gospel message they not only outrightly reject that message, they also cannot comprehend God's truths as revealed in the Bible.
The Bible calls such incomprehension being "spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14 - But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.
In Pastor Chuck Smith's commentary, he simply states:
v. 14 The natural man is blinded to spiritual things.
In Pastor Chuck Smith's Sermon Notes he goes into great detail about what is the natural man? He also shares many Scripture links which describe why natural man is indeed "blinded" to spiritual things.
In this post, I'd like to particularly focus on the following sermon notes:
B. What does Paul have to say about the natural man?
1 "He receives not the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness unto him."
a. You try to talk to him about spiritual things and you may as well be talking to a Barbie Doll.
b. There is absolutely no comprehension.
c. Sometimes they will listen patiently if they are cultured, and others will just get angry and scream at you.
Been there; experienced that!
Pastor Smith goes on to explain:
a. They are spiritually discerned.
b. So he lacks the faculties by which they are known and understood, (i.e. the spiritual nature).
c. You might say with equal logic, the blind man cannot appreciate the beauty of a sunset.
d. The deaf man cannot know the glories of the symphony.
e. They lack the faculties by which these things are known.
Many of the people who reject the Gospel of Christ are intelligent; often extremely intelligent.
So what is the problem?
Why can't they grasp what born-again believers in Christ are sharing?
Perhaps it has a lot to do with the fact that logical reasoning is not an absolute law that governs the universe, nor is it a set of rules that govern behavior.
One must decide whether logic is the right "tool" for the job. There are other ways to communicate, discuss and debate.
Jesus tells us in John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Just two verses down in John 3:5, Jesus says it again - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
And then again in John 3:7 - Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Must be extremely important because Jesus mentions it three times within 5 sentences (verses)!!
What must happen before being born again? One must have faith in Who Jesus is!!
Hebrews 11:6 tells us, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
Faith is daring the soul to believe what the eyes cannot see.
Logical irreverence dictates, "I'll believe it when I see it," whereas faithful devotion enables one to "believe it, then I'll see it."
Intellectual pride, rationalizations and excuses all keep people from God. The Gospel seems foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding.
What happens to those who are not born again in the Spirit through Jesus Christ?
Romans 8:9 - But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
We don't belong to Christ until we are born again of the Spirit!! All the church going, tithing, chorus singing, good deed doing, works of the flesh etc. will not make you one of His!
When Jesus ask us, "Who do you say that I am?" what is your response??
Matthew 16:16 - And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
John 6:69 - And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus emphasizes the importance of faith:
"Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
Friday, April 28, 2006
At the end of the article, Dr. Mohler sums it up quite well:
"Dr. McLaren's position diverges too greatly to be appropriate for this conference."
Mohler concludes that McLaren and other leaders in the Emergent Church represent "a significant challenge to biblical Christianity."
"Unwilling to affirm that the Bible contains propositional truths that form the framework for Christian belief, this movement argues that we can have Christian symbolism and substance without those thorny questions of truthfulness that have so vexed the modern mind," Mohler writes."The worldview of postmodernism -- complete with an epistemology that denies the possibility of or need for propositional truth -- affords the movement an opportunity to hop, skip and jump throughout the Bible and the history [of ]Christian thought in order to take whatever pieces they want from one theology and attach them, like doctrinal post-it notes, to whatever picture they would want to draw."
This movement is "nothing new under the sun" and is an example of what Jude predicted and prophesied about the end times. There would be a falling away from the truth of the Gospel and the Bible. This leads to, and is called, heresy and apostasy.
The Da Vinci code phenomenon is an example of taking heretical notions about Jesus and making it appear to be "real" and "the truth." Even though the author claims that it is just a work of fiction, the manner, views, and context in which the book is written demonstrate a blatant attempt to lead the reader into doubting the true Gospel of Christ.
The current "gay" Christian movement is another perfect example. They pick and choose which verses to follow from the Bible and which ones they will ignore. Notice (in article link) that the Emergent Church movement advocate (Dr. McLaren) refused to answer and/or acknowledge what the Bible clearly says about the sin of homosexual behavior. He gave some silly excuse that it is "too political."
The Emergent Movement wants to move away from the commandments of God and "do what is right in their own eyes." This is no better than any non-believer out there...but the worst part is that they are leading flocks of would-be/could-be followers of Christ into a false gospel.
The ones who will not be fooled by this are the elect of God:
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Mar 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect.
Leaders like Dr. McLaren are subtlely (and, in some cases, not so subtlely) advocating for the "carnal Christian man." Let's briefly examine what Paul says about this obvious contradiction.
Paul speaks of the natural man (Ephesians 2:1-3) as one who seeks the desires of the body which occupy most of his (or her) mind and life. He doesn't feel conviction for his sins; he sees no need of righteousness, and he's not concerned about the judgment.
Paul said, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" ( 1 Corinthians 1:18). Like the blind man who cannot appreciate the beauty of a sunset, natural man without the Spirit of God in his heart and life lacks the faculty to recognize and understand the love of God and man's need for redemption.
Paul's heart had been opened to truth by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:15, 16). he wasn't transformed by the wisdom of man but became spiritual in the power and in the demonstration of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul discusses the "carnal Christian" (Ephesians 4:13-19) as one who has been awakened by the Spirit of God to his need of Jesus Christ and has received Christ as his Savior, but he has never submitted his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The carnal Christian lives in an arrested state of spiritual devolopment and remains as he was years ago - in the infancy state.
You can never be fully satisfied as a carnal Christian. It's only as you give your life, your body, your mind and your soul to the Lord and commit it all to him that you will know the joy, peace and blessing of walking in, and with, the Spirit.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The following are excerpts from Linda Harvey's article, "How homosexual school clubs offer sex to students."
The mainstream media is sure to spend time this next week on the subject of homosexuality and youth, precipitated by the observance in hundreds of high schools of the so-called "Day of Silence" on Wednesday, April 26. This is the day that students who are "GLBT" – that's "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered" – pledge to remain silent all day to draw attention to what they believe is discrimination.
On Thursday, April 27, some schools will be blessed with a Christian response, the "Day of Truth," started several years ago by the Alliance Defense Fund. "Day of Truth" participants will explain the reality of homosexuality along with the light of Christ's truth and the hope therein.
But there's one connection surfacing that schools and communities should watch: the strong link between the school "GSAs" and community-based "GLBT" youth groups. With little accountability except to the adult "gay" community, there's no doubt that these offsite youth groups do offer students opportunities to learn about graphic sex and socialize with peers and adults who are active participants in the homosexual lifestyle. And the target age starts as early as middle school.
At most of these off-campus clubs, your sixth grader would be welcomed by adult homosexual volunteers and staff, and allowed to socialize with high school and college age "queer" or gender variant youth, without your permission or knowledge. All he or she has to do is show up, and many are located conveniently on bus lines to accommodate kids under driving age.
"No parents" plus homosexual approval is the reason these centers call themselves "safe" places. There is a homosexual youth center now in virtually every medium or large city in the United States. Many are funded by private foundations or connected to a local adult center for "GLBT" people. Some are even funded by United Way. And the kids who attend are given graphic "safe-sex" lectures, the option of free HIV testing without parental permission, group "counseling" and other serious, adult-level situations that few schools would allow on site.
Think this is an exaggeration and/or nothing to be alarmed about if you are a parent? Read about "BAGLY":
Staff and adult volunteers sometimes teach workshops with dangerous enticements. BAGLY, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, features ongoing courses called "Queer College." One of these courses is called "HIV." Conducted by a male staff member and "peer leaders," the course content is described on the BAGLY website as follows:
SEX! Yeah, we know you're doing it. But how safe are you? We could all use info on sexy new ways to use condoms and barriers. We'll have open, honest, judgment-free conversations about sex toys, oral sex, bare-backing, mixing sex and drugs, how to keep it safe and advocate for yourself during group sex, anonymous sex, and sex on the go! We'll have something for everyone.
This course was held early in April at the BAGLY meeting site, which is St. John the Evangelist Church in Boston.
Most of these youth centers extend open arms to area GSAs. The non-school locale provides a venue for activities that might not be allowed at school. Frequently, all area GSA members will be invited to youth center events, where no parents, no school boards, no teachers are there to supervise what might take place.
Unfortunately, there are many more examples of groups like BAGLY in the article.
The following are EXCELLENT QUESTIONS:
What in the world are we doing exposing kids to opportunities to get involved in practices that are spreading an epidemic disease? How can we let kids make such huge health-care decisions, interact with health professionals, receive "counseling" and figure out what all this means, without the guidance of a parent or guardian?
For instance, what if a young teen does get involved in a homosexual relationship, then is tested for HIV, and the test is positive? And his parents have no idea of any of this, but this young person has to evaluate all this, cope with what he will probably think is a death sentence, and have entered this world of corruption in secret, because of incessant, inaccurate propaganda convincing him he was born "gay"?
Day of Truth - April 27, 2006
Even though this consent by minors is becoming very common and is even upheld by law, there's no excuse for putting kids in this position. It's certainly feeding the problem of sexually transmitted diseases and sexual activity among America's youth. Parents are, by and large, not a problem for kids, but the primary people in the world who care most about a kid's welfare, and the ones who can talk him/her out of foolish impulses. Don't we have public service ads now that urge parents to talk with teens about sex, about drugs? Don't we know that this works? But these clubs, and the assumptions they make about all parents, undermine the child's first, best hope. We are offering kids a way to act on misinformation, and opportunities to be exploited, by excluding parental knowledge. This is a recipe for an insane, unstable and disease-ridden culture.
Wait – we've already got that, don't we?
And we haven't even addressed one more big question: the potential for molestation.
What happens if one of these HIV testing sessions uncovers a 12-, 13- or 14-year-old who is having a relationship with a 25- or 30-year-old? Why isn't there required reporting of such relationships? If we are going to empower taxpayer-funded groups to act as health professionals, we have to require that they not corrupt, or aid and abet corruption of children – period. The reality is that adult-teen liaisons are not uncommon in the "gay" community, so some oversight and legal parameters are needed.
We have once thrown kids to the beasts of tolerance and acceptance. Well, few of us want to tolerate and accept increased homosexual activity, as well as limited and shortened lives of our precious children – all because of a 100 percent preventable problem.
The Day of Truth was established to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective.
In the past, students who have attempted to speak against the promotion of the homosexual agenda have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their beliefs. It is important that students stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the Truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations. The Day of Truth provides an opportunity to publicly exercise our free speech rights.
Participating students are encouraged to wear T-shirts and pass out cards (not during class time) with the following message:
I am speaking the Truth to break the silence.
Silence isn’t freedom. It’s a constraint.
Truth tolerates open discussion, because the Truth emerges when healthy discourse is allowed.
By proclaiming the Truth in love, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.
The Day of Truth is scheduled for April 27, 2006. This is the day after GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network) will sponsor the "Day of Silence." GLSEN’s Day of Silence encourages students to remain silent throughout the day and not respond to teachers or school administrators. It is part of their overall strategy to change how our society perceives homosexual behavior. But the Day of Silence is a misnomer, because what is truly being silenced is the Truth.
Visit Day Of Truth to learn more and participate in this project.
In his book, "Reaching for the Invisible God," author Phillip Yancey points out that God's irony helps explain deep paradoxes in the Christian faith.
Yancey states, "Only the sequence of goodness, fallenness and redemption explains the paradox. God did not save Jesus from the cross but, ironically, saved others through Jesus' death on the cross. In the Incarnation, God's power stream of redeeming good from evil was stealthily under way. God overcomes hate with love and death with resurrection. At Christ's crucifixion even Satan was used as an unwilling instrument of grace."
Jesus' execution accomplished the salvation of the world: "Your grief will turn to joy," he had promised in John 16:20.
To redeem our brokenness and lovelessness, the God of the universe shared in our suffering to redeem us from suffering and evil. This profound realization and message should not be missed!
The Sovereign God interacting with a free, rebellious creation involves three kinds of wills. His intentional Will - a world of perfect goodness (Genesis 1, 2); His circumstantial Will - because of the entry of evil at the Fall, God continually salvages good from bad; and His Ultimate Will, which cannot be thwarted - through human history when all of its evils place obstacles in the way, in the end these will be overcome (see Revelation 21, 22).
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
We all know about liberal media bias. Sean Hannity fights against it every day on his radio show and on Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes show. Why am I bringing this up? Because one interesting development to the Scott Savage OSU story is the exposure of liberal college library book selection bias!
World Net Daily's latest article, Marketing of Evil locked out of college libraries asks the following question:
Question: If conservative books – even popular bestsellers – and their authors attract so much condemnation on college campuses today, how is that bias reflected in the schools' library systems?
What you will find when you read the article is that this bestselling book is stocked only in fraction of facilities carrying liberal-left titles. Why am I not surprised??
Take a look at these article links and you will see that I'm not exaggerating when I state my opinion that as far as the American Library Association is concerned, the loonies are definitely running the asylum!
Indeed, the American Library Association, the oldest and largest library association in the world with more than 64,000 members, is unapologetically left-wing. It is currently debating whether to sever all ties with the Boy Scouts of America, vigorously defends the acquisition of X-rated children's books in public libraries, and has repeatedly defended communist dictator Fidel Castro over dissident librarians imprisoned in Cuba.
If these three loonie left ideas do not equate with insanity, I don't know what else would!! Talk about perfect examples of the marketing of evil!!
But wait! There's much more!
Not every library links to OCLC, so the statistics on WorldCat are not totally inclusive, but are very valuable – and accurate – for comparison purposes.
Here's a comparison between "The Marketing of Evil" and another bestselling book, one written by an unabashedly liberal author: Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America." Here's how the books lined up.
"Nickel and Dimed": 3,542 copies in libraries worldwide.
"The Marketing of Evil": 188 copies in libraries worldwide.
I have critiqued (and, IMO, subsequently demolished) one of Ehrenreich's sloppy articles at my message board. She made the absolutely stupid mistake of claiming God guilty of a "felony" in an article about the tsunami disaster. Her unthinking rant on that issue and her mockery of God is only the beginning.
How is it that someone like that gets 3,542 copies of her book in libraries worldwide and Mr. Kupelian's book, "The Marketing of Evil" has only 188 copies in libraries worldwide? I know! Maybe it's because no one bought her book!! Ha!
But seriously. We all know the real reason is liberal bias! Conservatives should purchase an extra copy of Kupelian's book and donate it to their local college library! It would be a great experiment to see if they will accept the donation and place it on the college library shelves.
It doesn't seem likely that they will display the book. Heck...librarians didn't even care what happened to one of their own!
Predictably, as the Virginia Tech librarian told WND, "the American Library Association has had an incredible silence about Scott Savage. Here's a librarian under attack for recommending a book!"
With such a leftist leadership, said Savage, in many libraries there isn't much likelihood of conservative, traditional-values-oriented books ending up on the shelves.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
But first, I want to say that I see many teens and college-aged men and women "thirsting" for something else in life. Many are caught up within what the secular world has to offer, but still find themselves empty. Deep in their souls, they feel that something is missing. There is a hole in their hearts that cannot be filled by anything of this world. But many wonder why they have this empty feeling.
While searching through some online profiles, one 19 year old young woman expressed the following:
"I'm looking for something in my life but I don't know what that 'something' is. However, when I find it...I will let others know."
She labeled her religion choice as "Buddhist." She, as well as many other lost souls out there are longing for the answer that will fill her(their) emptiness. THE One and Only True Lord of the universe...Jesus Christ is the answer!
In John 4:25, we discover that the woman at the well knew what she was supposed to be looking for:
25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."
However, in the beginning of her encounter with Jesus she didn't understand who was actually speaking to her and what He was offering her:
10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"
13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."
Notice that she was focused upon the physical aspects that water gives us on this earth. Notice that she wanted the "Living water" to ease her burden of coming to the well to draw liquid water each day. But Jesus was offering her something far greater than well water. He offered her the spiritual fountain of water springing up to everlasting life. Such "water" can only be found in Jesus Christ!
Back in verses 16-18 when Jesus confronted her with the fact that she had 5 husbands and the one with whom she was living with now is not her husband, she rapidly changed the subject!
19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
How does one worship in spirit and truth?
Jesus covered that in John 3:3 and 3:5-8:
John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
John 3:5-8 - 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Psalms 33:4 - For the word of the LORD [is] right; and all his works [are done] in truth.
Ephesians 1:13 - In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Colossians 1:5 - For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
James 1:22 - But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Ephesians 6:14 - Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
1 Thessalonians 2:13 - For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
And, most important of all are Jesus' own words concerning Scripture:
John 17:17 - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
So, through being born-again in the Holy Spirit and knowing God's Word of Truth, we experience that Living water Jesus was talking about with the woman at the well. Jesus often used ordinary, every day objects and situations to help the people understand his messages. We cannot miss the symbolism of "water." We all know that the average person can live past 40 days without food, but we can't live past 14 days without water. Water is crucial for the physical well-being of our bodies. The deprivation of water brings the body to a slow, agonizing death. [Note: The death of Teri Schiavo was done is this cruel, inhumane manner.]
So, too, does the lack of spiritual Living water within one's soul lead to spiritual death and separation from God forever in eternity! That's the bad news that we must share with the world in order for them to realize their need to repent of their sins. However, the Good News is that our Savior paved the way to be born again in his name, Jesus Christ, and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts!
Think about this. When Jesus told the woman about her sin, and then told her that God the Father wants us to worship Him in spirit and truth, ("for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.") Jesus was reiterating everything written in the Old Testament as truth from God Himself!
Jesus could have probably said hundreds of good things that the woman at the well said or did in her life. But he chose to expose her sin (albeit in a compassionate, but open way) and she was probably so aghast that Jesus knew these things about her that she changed the subject abruptly!
Again, after Jesus spoke and told the woman about her sinful condition and about worshipping God in spirit and truth, he finally reveals to her just who He is:
25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."
26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
Next, look at what the woman says back at her town:
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
Now, the "men" of the city must have known about this woman's reputation! They most probably knew what she meant by stating, "all the things that I ever did." She wasn't referring to doing the laundry!
Look at the disciples reaction and concerns (see John 4:27; 31-33)
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know."
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"
Again, man focuses on the physical aspects of life whereas Jesus was continually focused on the spiritual aspects of His life!
34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
There is quite a strong point and lesson here. When Jesus prayed to God the Father in John 17, he asked that his followers be sanctified. Verse 17 (Jesus speaking) - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Sanctification is a lifelong process. The sooner you start, the better! We are sanctified through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the study and application of God's Word within our lives!
Let's go back to the teen girl who stated that she was "searching for something."
I'd like to share a portion of a newsletter that I received from a College Campus Ministry called, "Every Nation Campus Ministries."
"God is so faithful! We had 16 from San Jose State spend part of their spring breaks in North Carolina for Campus Harvest 2996 - and God surely met us there! It was an incredible God-saturated, faith-building time of worship, teaching, prayer, encouragement and fellowship with 1,600 + college students from 171 North American universities. Many of our students prayed and fasted before the conference in expectancy for what God could do there - and indeed, every student left changed by the love, power, and presence of God!!
One of our student leaders, Alex Ramos, a senior at San Jose State and Controller for SJSU Associated Students, shares how Jesus' love captured his heart at Campus Harvest 2006:
"My heart and love for the Lord has never been opened wider!!! Campus Harvest stipped all misconceptions and barriers of Christianity down to the bare truth about how to experience, love, and grow in faith with the Lord. I've experience SO much of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, made so many valuable relationships around the nation, and added an enormous dose of buel in the roaring fire of my spirit, which made me commit ot a life-long dedication to serving and obeying the commands of the Lord and bringing my family and friends in coming to know our Lord Jesus Christ.
What I experienced in the 3 days of Campus Harvest taught me more about the love of the Lord than the 4 years I have sought to experience his love as a Christian without a mentor. Through God's gift of giving Thai (his mentor) a huge and persistent heart - for 7 months, Thai never gave up on me...God never gave up on me. And finally, by God's grace, I have been forgiven, turned away from my old habits, and am now on fire constatly seeking the Lord's love and proclaiming to everyone the extraordinary joy, satifaction, heart, and espeically the tenderness I have gotten with my relationship with the Lord.
If it wasn't for the Lord working in Thai's life, I would be still drinking, getting angry at myself, and be the lukewarm Christian I was for 4 years. I am so blessed to have Every Nation Campus Ministries because the Lord is truly working through the ministry in bringing the students of San Jose State to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ!"
Jesus Christ changes lives for the better...forever! He changes individual lives right now, while on this earth and through doing so guarantees life eternally with Him in heaven!
"Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest." - John 4:35 (NLT)
For more information about college campus ministries here and throughout the world, visit Every Nation Campus Ministries
Monday, April 24, 2006
Today, I finally figured out how to post photos! I don't have many downloaded and ready to post yet, but here is one of me with our puggle puppy Sasha! This was the photo taken at her puppy training graduation!
It's hard to see, but if you look closely you will notice her little graduation hat...heh heh
FROM: Alan Sears, President
Please Be in Prayer for Brave Christian Students and the “Day of Truth”…
Do these young people look like “hate-mongers” to you? Do they look to be “intolerant” or “bigoted?”
They don’t to me. But that’s what they’ve been labeled at their school.
Because these courageous young men and women are the members of the Christian H2O club in a Midwestern city, who are participating in this year’s ADF “Day of Truth” co-sponsored by Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and the Southern Baptist Convention -- to proclaim Christ’s love for those struggling with or trapped in homosexual behavior.
These students are an inspiration to all of us at ADF. Despite their “Day of Truth” posters they put up around campus being ripped down and reports of participating students being physically and verbally intimidated by students and school officials in 2005 for taking a stand for Christ at their school, the H2O club ordered 98 “Day of Truth” t-shirts for 2006!
This Thursday, April 27th, students across the country, will be joining together to exercise their First Liberty – religious freedom – and “break the silence” when it comes to a fair and balanced discussion of homosexual behavior in our nation’s tax-funded schools.
As of today, more than 2,150 students, representing 565 schools in 45 states (including the District of Columbia) and three foreign countries will be boldly proclaiming God’s Truth in a non-disruptive, loving manner with their fellow classmates in public schools.
The H2O club held their “Day of Truth” a week early. An ADF team member was there at the event and provided the following report:
“This [was] the second year a small but mighty band of students…participated in the Day of Truth. The numbers are not final but it looks like almost 100 students wore their t-shirts, passed out palm cards and spoke the Truth in love to some of their fellow students involved in homosexual behavior.
What is also truly remarkable about the event this year is that, despite the climate of fear and animosity that had proceeded the event, the perception of all of the students I interviewed after the event was that the day was characterized by civility and acted as a catalyst of opening a meaningful dialogue about the Biblical view of homosexual behavior.
At the end of the school day, over a hundred students and faculty gathered to hear Stephen Bennett (a person formerly caught up in homosexual behavior and now a Christian) speak. Approximately 40 students who are members of the school's Gay and Straight Association not only attended their school sponsored secular version of Stephen Bennett’s presentation on his exit from the homosexual lifestyle but also returned to hear his Christian witness at a public library a mere three hours later. Some of them told me that they knew something was missing in the secular account and wanted to know what moved Stephen away from homosexual behavior. They listened intently, asked important questions, and most stayed after the presentation to collect Stephen’s tracts. And one 17-year-old girl who professes to be bisexual accepted an invitation to attend the Day of Truth Celebration Party.
The Day of Truth students were given the confidence to speak the Truth in love at their school today because they have loving families that encourage them to be bold in their faith – and because ADF "has their backs." They asked me to tell you, thanks for all you do.”
Thank you for making it possible to allow the life-saving message of the Gospel to penetrate the silence. Please be in prayer for the thousands of students participating this Thursday, as they are likely to face significant opposition from those who seek to censor the Gospel and indoctrinate the next generation to approve of homosexual behavior.
There’s still time for your students to join with these courageous young men and women. To sign up, go to Day of Truth participants for more information and materials. Thank you!
And By “Pure Coincidence”…
Last Thursday, just one week before the “Day of Truth,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, issued another “creative” opinion on a limited issue by Judge Stephen Reinhardt (and joined by one other judge) in the ADF-litigated case. Harper v. Poway that – if allowed to stand – could have a chilling effect on the “Day of Truth” as well as the future of religious freedom on tax-funded school campuses and beyond.
(Judge Reinhardt – a Jimmy Carter appointee -- is the same judge who is married to the Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California and has issued opinions finding a “right to die” in the U.S. Constitution, that parents have no say in the sexual education their children get in public schools, as well as striking down the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. In 1997, The Weekly Standard reported that he was one of the most overturned judges in history and that he was privately viewed as a “renegade” by the Supreme Court justices).
Harper v. Poway demonstrates why we need the “Day of Truth.” In this case, Chase Harper, a student at Poway High School, was told by a school official that he "kept his faith in the car” and Chase should do as well because Chase was wearing a T-shirt expressing the Biblical view on homosexual behavior.
In his opinion, Reinhardt, along with the other judge suggested that the movie Brokeback Mountain (!) be cited as evidence as reason to deny Chase and other students their First Amendment rights to express an opposing viewpoint to the promotion of homosexual behavior.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot says: “The majority implied that Brokeback Mountain was in, and the Bible is out. What’s really broken here is this approach to the First Amendment.”
Kevin continues: “The court has manufactured new law in the area of student speech in saying students cannot say anything that school officials deem ‘demeaning’ to another. This panel has upheld school censorship of student expression if it is the Christian view of homosexual behavior. They have essentially determined that student quotation of Scripture can be prohibited…”A vigorous dissent was filed by the sole Reagan appointed judge on the panel.
You can read the Ninth Circuit opinion at Ninth Circus Opinion [Note: link title name change mine...just couldn't resist ;-)]. ADF attorneys are planning on appealing this decision to the full panel of the Ninth Circuit.
If advocates of homosexual behavior and their allies in the judiciary have their way, young people across the country will never have the opportunity, like the students at this Midwestern school, to hear the testimony of individuals such as Stephen Bennett and be able to respond to the life-changing message of the Gospel.
We pray that this wacky decision opens the door for the case to go eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the potential to provide a definitive ruling affirming the First Liberty – religious freedom – of all who seek to share Christ’s love with those trapped in homosexual behavior.
Alliance Defense Fund
15333 N. Pima Road Suite 165
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (480)444-0020
I just learned from one of my favorite blogging sites, La Shawn Barber's Corner, that Michele Malkin has created and launched "Hot Air: World's First Full-Service Conservative Internet Broadcast Network."
How exciting! This is a great new development! Now all I need to do is learn how to use the tools for videoblogging, animation, and internet broadcasting...
La Shawn writes at her site:
"Michelle Malkin — wife, mother of two, author of three books, syndicated columnist, speaker, FOX News guest host, and prolific blogger extraordinaire — has started a new venture called Hot Air, a conservative Internet broadcast network.
From the site: I formed Hot Air Network, LLC, to bring ideological diversity—because we all love diversity–to the videoblogging world. And because it looked like a lot of fun.…
Our mission at Hot Air is to: Expose new viewers to the revolutionary world of videoblogging, animation, and Internet broadcasting; recruit dynamic, enterprising people with creative skills from across the country to help us challenge (and CONQUER!) the dinosaur broadcast media outlets; Laugh. Report. Laugh. Entertain. Laugh. Inform. Laugh. Make money. Did we say laugh? (Read more)
Michelle and company are catching a hot new wave: on-demand Internet video. With free services like YouTube.com, users can quickly and easily upload homemade videos, advertisements, movie trailers, etc. "
Hat tip: La Shawn Barber's Corner
Trackback URL: http://lashawnbarber.com/archives/2006/04/24/hot-air/trackback/
TrackBack URL for this entry: http://michellemalkin.com/mt/mt-pb-tb.cgi/4391
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Address: Ephesians 1:20
Phone: Romans 10:13
Website: The Bible.
Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus
Hello. My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume because I'm seeking the top management position *in your heart. Please consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.
I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19)
I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7)
I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7)
I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians 3:13)
The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me, (See Galatians 3:14)
I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49).
I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful. My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15-17)
Skills Work Experiences
Some of my skills and work experiences include empowering the poor to be poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised, (See Luke 4:18).
I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6).
People who listen to me shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33).
Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins, (See I John 1:7-9)
I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6).
In me are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians 2:3).
My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet and a lamp unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105).
I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21).
I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times, (See Genesis 1:26).
I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15).
I defeated the archenemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly, (See Colossians 2:15).
I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can read them on my website, which is located at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.
Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healings, salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance
Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart.
In summation, I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life, (See John 6:47). When can I start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15).
(Thanks to my friend Dran for sharing this with me!)
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Interestingly, Biola University is holding a conference on this very subject . It will be held next Saturday, April 29th, and is entitled, Out of the Closet: Can Christians Save Hollywood?"
The first page lists the conference mission and objectives:
The Biola Media Conference seeks to educate, inspire and network people of faith involved or interested in the media.
The Biola Media Conference instructs and inspires individuals to integrate their faith with their art. It provides Christian media professionals with a forum to impart the valuable knowledge and wisdom gained in their field of expertise.
Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from and interact with acclaimed professionals currently involved in the entertainment industry.
• Participants will discover the profound creative and spiritual nature of their involvement in the media industries.
• Conference programming will cover a variety of topics in order to provide teaching and training in numerous media related careers.
• Participants will leave the conference with a clearer vision of their gifted place in the media and the growing opportunities for involvement.
• Attendees will be given the opportunity to leave better equipped for success in their area of media interest.
The USA Today article stated:
Joe Bubar, a minister at the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Bible Church, welcomes being Hollywood's hot new demographic. His church rented five theaters during the opening week of Narnia and urged its 5,500 member to turn out in force.
He says churches welcome faith-based films as much as Hollywood welcomes faith-based money.
"We're looking for things that help us deliver our message," he says. "And, particularly with younger people, movies do that. We welcome movies with a positive message.
Some filmmakers, in turn, are responding with biblically based stories such as Passion or Nativity and other films that take an earnest look at religion.
"There's another way to look at faith in movies, " says James Marsh, director of The King, a William Hurt drama about a minister father who reunites with his troubled son that's due May 19. "Instead of mocking religious people or portraying them a hypocrites, you're seeing a more straight-up examination of how hard it is to be righteous. And I don't think we're losing anything in terms of dramatic storylines."
It's about time!
Friday, April 21, 2006
I say it's about time that the truth comes out so that the continual intolerance hurled towards conservative Christians on university campuses gets exposed.
I just received a letter from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) that shared it's goal of pro-activism in confronting incidences like this false accusation against Mr. Savage. Their work will be crucial so that Christians can be rest assured of not being targeted by those who disagree with their free speech rights on college campuses. Such reverse discrimination runs rampant at liberal universities. Incidences like this should never happen again!
Teacher praises Kupelian's book
I am a daily reader of WorldNetDaily, a high-school English teacher, and I have found Kupelian's book to be clarion call to this generation – WAKE UP! His writing is masterful.
This book will most surely be a watershed treatise on the state of the union and how we sank to the level of moral depravity in which we find ourselves. Thank you, Mr. Kupelian, for your earnest work and your perception of the pitfalls of a godless society.
OSU 'staggeringly off-base' in response to librarian
I found the letter to Mr. Savage from T. Glenn Hill of the Ohio State University, Mansfield, human resources department to be staggeringly off-base in several respects.
First, it apparently does not suggest that any punitive actions are being considered against the three men who knowingly, falsely accused Mr. Savage in order to have him fired for reasons that have nothing to do with harassment.
Second, it apparently ignores the fact that a much larger number of their faculty was willing to destroy his career using that knowingly false accusation.
Third, the phrase "However well intentioned the actions ..." attempts to imply that the nasty, dishonest attack on Mr. Savage was actually a friendly, kindly act.
Fourth, (as your article also points out) putting Dr. Jones in charge of cleaning up the mess, who is the very person who falsely accused Mr. Savage, makes as much sense as having the president nominate the head of the Mafia as the new director of the FBI.
Finally, warning Mr. Savage against retaliation, after informing him that OSU was in agreement that he had not harassed anyone, was incredibly stupid. It is common knowledge that an accused is warned against retaliation only if it is uncertain if harassment occurred, or if it is certain that harassment occurred.
This response from OSU is incredibly cowardly, wrong-headed and weak. The professors involved seem to have the OSU administration completely cowed, perhaps afraid that they themselves will be the next targets in another left-wing witch hunt at OSU. These professors will doubtlessly be emboldened when they sense the incredible cowardice and weakness of the administrators.
We have recently seen the presidents of Harvard and Colorado State brought down by a single ultra-liberal professor using these same tactics. Despite doing absolutely nothing wrong themselves, these two university presidents fell all over themselves to backpedal, to apologize, and to defend and sing the praises of the very professors who were viciously and dishonestly attacking them.
David Limbaugh writes:
"You have to be a semantic contortionist not to realize that any intolerance or hate speech involved in this episode emanated from the professors and their supporting faculty. Then again, conservative thought is obviously not entitled to the same degree of protection, if any, and anti-conservative propaganda is promoted in much of liberal academia. We can only imagine what goes on in these professors' classrooms that we don't hear about.
But Savage's attorney, David French, said that merely dropping the complaint doesn't repair the damage to his client's reputation and career. He is considering litigation.
I think he should seriously consider going forward with litigation against the people and institutions involved. Radical homosexual groups routinely characterize the utterance of opposing opinions – just as in this incident – as hate speech and seek to ban it. They frequently seek to have the expression of opinions running counter to their dogma, branded as harassment or bullying, to make it easier to stigmatize those daring to disagree. Well, in this case – if the allegations are true – the professors appear to be guilty of that which they were accusing Savage: harassment."
Mike S. Adams provides his own recommended letter of support for Mr. Savage within this article which he intends to send to the entire OSU faculty...
There are about a dozen comments to Mike's column, but the best one (so far) has to be "Ironies abound" written by FWPeretto:
"What really makes this case stand out in my mind is that the Kupelian book, which Savage's persecutors most loathed and set out after him for, describes precisely the sort of tactic they used against him as a principal weapon in homosexual activism. The operative term is jamming: "Psychological terrorism meant to silence expression of, or even support for, dissenting opinion." (Paul Rondeau, Regent University) This tactic is explicitly recommended to homosexual activists by "After The Ball," Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen's seminal book on strategy and tactics for the homosexual movement.
Plainly, these folks don't want anyone blowing the whistle on their little game.
Added on at 2:00 p.m.
I just saw two videos via Biola University's "Eaglevision" archives that demonstrates a willingness to dialogue between the faculty, students and the visiting Soulforce Equality-Ride Group that visited this conservative Christian university on April 4th, 2006.
Click on this Archive link, scroll down, and click on the April 4th and 5th broadcast dates to view various interviews of students to see for yourself that differing viewpoints can be discussed in a way that is non-combative, not meant to indoctrinate opposing sides and done in a respectful way.
If only such things were possible at liberal university college campuses!