The Temple

More Stupid Stuff Heard on the Radio

Here is a winner!

Prophets in the Christian era are not held to the same standard as those in the Old Testament. I was driving while I heard this and am not up to transcribing this one, but the gist of the “teaching” was that since the Bible says the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet” it means that the prophet should be given time to grow into his gift. In that period of growth he will be subject to mistakes. He is only human. As long as he is responsive to correction, he should be given the leeway to prophesy, his prophetic utterances should be scrutinized for truth content.

It seems that if this is how you are going to define prophecy, there is no difference between this and the expression of personal opinion. If we are going to allow ongoing prophetic utterance, it can’t be a hit and miss proposition. That is why in the OT the standard was 100% accuracy – that is what makes it “of God.”

Maybe that is the problem these days, we don’t really hold people accountable for what they say. Take for instance Pat Robertson’s predictions about extreme weather in 2006.

Pat Robertson also said that God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would cause a “mass killing” late in 2007.

“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
“The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”God also said, he claims, that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.

Robertson said God told him about the impending tragedy during a recent prayer retreat.

“I have a relatively good track record,” he said. “Sometimes I miss.”

So, what do we make of this sort of tripe – is he still growing into his “gift”? Or is it manipulation and sensationalism? I lean toward the latter.

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February 28, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Stupid Stuff | Leave a comment

Calvary Chapel and the Catholic Church

Reading the LA Times this morning in the doctors office. On the front page, bracketing the front page actually were two disturbing stories; stories that should not be on the front page. The Catholic Diocese in San Diego is filing for bankruptcy in response to or to preclude losses in another sexual molestation case against priests. Calvary Chapel finds itself embroiled in a lawsuit over the Calvary Satellite Network of radio stations that includes charges of embezzlement and sexual impropriety. Heartbreaking stories. We should pray for resolution and reconciliation and repentance in both of these instances. Somehow, even through this, may the name of Christ be glorified.

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February 28, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Church | 15 Comments

Lost Tomb of Jesus: Links Galore

Check out Jeff Downs blog Countercult Apologetics for a massive list of links about the tomb of Jesus story.

ht: James White

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February 27, 2007 Posted by | Archeology, Christianity | 1 Comment

Can We Be Perfect?

So why does he command it?

With all of our objecting to this command (Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect; Matthew 5:48 & like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; 1 Peter 1:16), we have missed the point and excused ourselves away from sanctification. How many times have you heard or used these excuses:

  • I’m only human
  • Everyone makes mistakes
  • We will always sin
  • No one is perfect

I see this as a totally unbiblical pattern of thought. The command to be perfect is not a phrase that needs to be explained away, rather it should be used as the goal for which we continually strive. It is essentially no different from the goal of the Christian to attain to the stature of Christ. No one would object to the statement that we need to be like Christ, but they squirm when called to “be perfect.” Christ was perfect. Be like Christ.

When we adopt any of the above excuses, we short-circuit a God-given process of sanctification. Here is a better statement to put into your thinking patterns:

“I don’t have to sin anymore.”

What a novel statement. I don’t have to sin anymore. It is true, biblical and helpful. It is my interpretation of “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God.” To consider means to regard as accurate or true. Telling yourself that you aren’t perfect is the opposite of considering yourself dead to sin. It is regarding yourself as still alive to sin, at least a little bit. It is unholy wiggle room.

Can we be perfect? I think it is the wrong question. How does perfect (insert Christ here) act? That is a better question. I can be like Christ. The Spirit of God dwells in the believer and is able to keep me from falling. I can submit to the Spirit. This could work. I could stop sinning.

I cannot figure out what is wrong with the above line of reasoning, therefore I am going to let that idea rule in my head for a while.

Here are John Calvin’s comments on 1 Peter 1:15-16:

He who has called you is holy. He reasons from the end for which we are called. God sets us apart as a peculiar people for himself; then we ought to be free from all pollutions. And he quotes a sentence which had been often repeated by Moses. For as the people of Israel were on every side surrounded by heathens, from whom they might have easily adopted the worst examples and innumerable corruptions, the Lord frequently recalled them to himself, as though he had said, “Ye have to do with me, ye are mine; then abstain from the pollutions of the Gentiles.” We are too ready to look to men, so as to follow their common way of living. Thus it happens, that some lead others in troops to all kinds of evil, until the Lord by his calling separates them.

In bidding us to be holy like himself, the proportion is not that of equals; but we ought to advance in this direction as far as our condition will bear. And as even the most perfect are always very far from coming up to the mark, we ought daily to strive more and more. And we ought to remember that we are not only told what our duty is, but that God also adds, “I am he who sanctify you.”

It is added, In all manner of conversation, or, in your whole conduct. There is then no part of our life which is not to be redolent with this good odour of holiness. For we see that in the smallest things and almost insignificant, the Lord accustomed his people to the practice of holiness, in order that they might exercise a more diligent care as to themselves.

Stop making excuses.


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February 27, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Christian Living, Christianity | Leave a comment

How Should We Think About the New Jesus Burial Place?

Read Ben Witherington on the Jesus Burial Place; the New Testament Gateway; and Darrel Bock in two posts: No Need to Yell and Hollywood Hype.

There are a lot of good responses to this breaking story, see Ben Witherington and James White for some good posts and information. I want to take a different tack in this post, addressing how we respond in general to stories like this and more specifically how we should “think” about these issues.

This particular claim is not a strong one. But let’s postulate. What if the claim were stronger, and was harder to disprove? How should we handle apparently credible information that if true would be damaging to our faith?

First, our priority is truth. Knowing what is true is knowing what God wants us to know. When it comes to contrary information, our first response should be a measured one. I like what Aristotle said:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

I would say that 95% of Christianity was unaware of the existence of this particular cave even though it was discovered all the way back in 1980. It is probably the same amount of Christians who responded before ever gathering information. As far as they know, these could be the bones of Christ. The knee jerk initial response of the believer is “tell me how to respond to this blasphemy”, when a much better response would be “what are the facts so that we can examine the evidence.”

There are many possible explanations for any given set of phenomena. Starting with your conclusion is what we call bias. Recognizing our bias is important.

In this instance, the Christian starts out with a bias. We believe in the resurrection. We have staked our faith on it, and many of us have made large sacrifices in life as a result. We have a bias toward information that confirms our belief in the resurrection.

The critic also starts out with a bias, and his bias tends to influence him to look for information that affirms his bias or his motivation. Let’s take James Cameron for instance. He is behind the film coming out on the Jesus tomb. He could be an unbeliever bent on disproving the claims of Christianity. He is a documentary film maker and an explorer who enjoys discovery. Discovering the bones of Jesus is quite a bit different than discovering the bones of an everyday Jew who happened to share the name “Jesus.” His motive might be recognition.

None of the above proves or disproves the claim. James Cameron could have sordid motives and could still be right. The Christian could have pure motives and yet be wrong. Our quest is for truth, and the source or the motives behind the particular information is close to irrelevant. The truth seeker attempts to weed this out in search of information. But all information is then subject to interpretation. The honest truth seeker acknowledges his own presuppositions, assumptions, desires, beliefs and biases.

Let’s change some details to create a hypothetical situation. Let’s say instead of a tomb and bones purported to be the bones of Jesus, we found some other artifact with the names Jesus, son of Joseph; Mary, etc. The responses may be reversed. Christians would respond with glee, unbelievers with skepticism. This again would tell us more about the bias of the response than the truth of the claim.

All of these sorts of claims need healthy, rigorous examination. The Christian faith is not threatened by examination, even by some healthy doubt. Rather, time and again these kinds of events strengthen rather than weaken the truth claims of Christianity.

If Jesus’ bones are out there, we certainly want to know. The problem is that it would be close to impossible to prove that claim beyond a shadow of a doubt. Asking hard questions, holding evidence in abeyance before drawing a conclusion is ok for Christians. We don’t have to have an answer for every challenge, we examine or contemplate claims before we dismiss them, or paint them with our preconceived Christian brush. We have been wrong before. We have changed parts of our paradigm based on evidence. We once supported a geocentric view of the universe, remember?

We don’t know everything. We don’t know everything about God, the universe, even the earth and sea. So why are we so quick to reject contrary claims? It boils down to insecurity.

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February 27, 2007 Posted by | Archeology, Christianity | Leave a comment

Persecuted Church

Hard to watch, but persecution of Christians is real, and active. Voice of the Martyrs is a great organization, join and get the newsletter.

ht: Persecution Blog; Blind Beggar; Missional Challenge

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February 24, 2007 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity | Leave a comment

Jesus Coffin Found??!??

Now there is a headline. American film maker James Cameron has partnered with Simcha Jacobovici to make a film in which they claim a cave in Jerusalem was discovered in 1980 will prove to be the burial place of Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene and others.

Here is the link to the story. Here is a link to Time Magazine and this topicThis link from Vision TV advertises the film’s release/broadcast on March 6.

This story should be looked at circumspectly, remember the James burial box that was subsequently seen as a hoax. For a discussion of this development see this post on Alpha and Omega Ministries blog (James White).

ht:James White

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February 24, 2007 Posted by | Archeology, Christianity | 4 Comments

Melissa Buskeros

You may not recognize the name. Melissa Buskeros is a 15 year old girl who was forcibly removed from her home because her parents had the audacity to care about her education and began home-schooling her in response to some challenges she was having in High School.

She was recently allowed to meet with her parents, she hadn’t seen them in a month

Read the story in World Net Daily and Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit (don’t worry, its in English)

Read a blog that updates the Buskeros family ordeal: Principled Discovery

Great quote from the Principled Discovery blog:

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.

–Abraham Lincoln, 1832

ht: Planet Preterist

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February 23, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Matthew 12, Mark 3 and Luke 11 are the three passages in the gospels where the idea of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is related to us. It is often asked: What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and can I commit it? Many answers I hear and read fall short of the mark in terms of relating what the issue is in context and why it is so egregious. Missing that essential point, many Bible teachers and answer programs default this specific, egregious sin to simple unbelief until death. The blasphemy of the HS is not simply unbelief. It is more than that…so what is it?

First, let me express my conclusions before making my argument. The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be committed today. It is a sin that is historically and contextually confined to the nation of Israel and the time of Christ, the time we would define as the “fullness of time.” This is important. To generalize the time and the event, makes this event in the life of Christ and the nation of Israel simply one more act of disobedience. Jesus is saying that this specific act is “unforgivable”; it is the final rejection of God by disbelieving national Israel. In essence, he is bringing the charge against the nation that will justify the breaking of the everlasting covenant made with Israel in favor of the New Covenant in His blood. So asking the question, “Is it about me?” misses the point, and the historical significance of the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees.

First, the Blasphemy of the Spirit has to do with the kingdom. The context is an exorcism. Jesus is casting demons out. His answer to the challenge of authority and source (He casts out demons by the ruler of demons) is summarized by the statement: “If I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus is declaring that He is the king, and that He brings the kingdom. Some talk about Jesus “offering” the kingdom at this point, as if it were an option he were leaving up to His followers. This is not the case. He establishes His kingdom in the Incarnation.

Throughout the gospels we have glimpses and revelation of the presence of the triune God. This is the incredible exposure of the Incarnation. So at the baptism of Jesus, we see the Son, the Father speaks, the Spirit descends and rests on Him. Other places hint of this as well, like the Transfiguration. Here there is also this mixture of revelation. Jesus is present among his chosen people. The Spirit is wielded as the instrument of power and transformation in casting out the demonic. The Father is also present, embodied in Him is the authority. So we have this unique environment. This was in fact the “fullness of time” where the nation is exposed to the inner sanctuary; in glory, power and proximity. It is in this holy place that the Pharisees/Scribes blaspheme. It is the equivalent of entering the Holy of Holies and saying that it was the abode of Satan. That is unforgivable.

When Jesus says all manner of sin will be forgiven, even words spoken against the Son, he is speaking of those sins of confusion, doubt, temporary arrogance, sinful proclivity. This sin is by nature unforgivable because of the time, the persons, the place of its committal. It is not simply oversight, or the failure of the moment. It is the absolute failure of the nation embodied in its leadership to bow the knee to the king. Instead, they call him the devil, and plot to kill him. It is in this light that the parable of the Landowner should be read and interpreted (Matthew 21:33-46; Luke 20:9-18 and Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 118:22). The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the rejection by the “vine-growers” of the son are one in the same act. This is the act that causes God to “come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.”

This is the fullness of time. The Pharisees were to be the light to the nations, and the guide to the sheep of Israel. When Messiah came they were to point to him and say: “He’s here!” Instead they tell all around, “He is the devil” The fullness of the radiance of the godhead is present in Christ in the midst of His people, His covenant people. The moment they had all been waiting for and praying for.

So the book of Luke (Luke 11:37-54) follows up on this incident with the woes upon the Pharisees and the judgment that falls upon this generation. “The blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation” (Luke 11:50). In their participation in the crucifixion, they have sealed their position against God, and He breaks the covenant with them – ultimately fulfilling the words of Christ in destroying the temple. There is no forgiveness for that. It is over. The nation and the system of the Old Covenant are now obsolete and done away with. A new covenant supersedes and is now in place. There is salvation in no one else.

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is easily summed up in the words found in Mark 3:30:

“because they (Scribes in Mark) were saying “He (that is Jesus) has an unclean spirit (that in reference to the HS).”

Those three elements are necessary for the sin to be committed: God’s chosen leadership in the nation of Israel; God’s chosen Servant, the Messiah Jesus Christ the Incarnate; God’s Holy Spirit, supernaturally revealing and working through the Messiah. As people of faith we often desire a more blatant expression of the existence and presence of God. If it were more tangible, it would be easier to believe and walk with God. The nation had exactly that in the person of Christ and rejected Him (see John 20:29). That is the most egregious sin possible, therefore unforgivable.

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February 23, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Christianity, Theological | 2 Comments

Stupid Things Heard on the Radio

I listen to all things Christian. Sometimes that is frustrating, though enlightening. I heard this on the radio recently, in response to a question on the Lord’s supper and the historical development of the ideas of transubstantiation etc. Basically, the host of the show, a well known pastor of a large Christian movement, did not know how to answer the question. In typical fashion, that ignorance was turned into a “sermon” on the evils of something, in this instance, the evils of church history:

“…church history really isn’t any good…look, I don’t have any defense for church history…I can’t defend church history…church history is really the history of men who have taken over a work of God and prostituted it and used it, made a religion out of if and missed really what the Lord was teaching and he rebukes them over and over again, very early. So, if the church moved that far away in the first 60 or so years it only moved further away as the history of the church continued – and so I don’t think that so – it is good that you are studying history but I think you need to see in history the failure of the church, not really the promulgating of the teachings of the New Testament and the practices of the church in the book of Acts. I think the only truly successful time in church history, where they really accomplished what the Lord was wanting the church to accomplish was IN the book of Acts. And there as they went out into all the world as Jesus instructed them to and took the gospel to the world we haven’t been able to duplicate that since that time and of course Jesus…uh, Paul rather in writing to the Colossians the word of the gospel as it has come to you as it is in all the world. Paul says we took the gospel to the whole world, we haven’t even done that today with our modern technology and capabilities through technology, we haven’t even taken the gospel to the world today, but they were relying on the Holy Spirit and directed by the Holy Spirit, and it wasn’t a man-made, man-governed, man-directed kind of a institution, but a God-governed institution and oh what to God that we could get to that once again…

I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Christians spouting revisionist history. The history of Western Civilization is replete with examples of progress and good, much of it done through the people of God, Christians who dedicated their lives to mission, and fulfilling the Great Commission.

There is not an era since Christ that has not had some influence from the church. The world-wide spread of the gospel is still exploding. There is not an area of our culture (art, education, law etc) that has not been influenced and shaped by Christianity. The above statement has got to be one of the most ridiculous statements I have heard in a long time with regard to the history of the church in the world. It is often said by unbelievers and critics of the church that more wars were fought in the name of religion, yada yada yada – understandably. But when this propaganda against the influence of the church in history is thrown out by believers it is incredible.

It has not always been the attitude of the church to self-deprecate and wallow in pessimism. We once believed the words of Jesus with regard to the mission and indefeasible nature of the church. The rise of dispensationalism coupled with the Civil War and WWI, the stock market crash and depression changed the optimistic perspective that was prevalent in the US to a pessimistic perspective with a doomsday expectation. That has crept into not only our eschatology but our ecclesiology. That as much as anything else has changed the focus and outlook of the modern church.

In a previous post called “A Good Episcopalian?” I talked about “new protestantism” being arrogant and looking down our nose at mainstream Christianity and also old Christianity. This is a dangerous posture for us to take. It is not good theology, Christianity or history to talk about how the only generation that got it were the church in the book of Acts, and apparently the few of “us” in the modern church who “get it.”

Arrogance makes you stupid.

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February 22, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Church, Culture - Values | Leave a comment