“Why So Many Denominations Batman”?

(Originally Posted Dec 13, 2015)

WHY SO MANY?

ATHEIST CHALLENGE

I was recently in a conversation and was challenged with a long litany of items. This is a common tactic of atheists. Not camping on a single topic and dealing with it well. Rather they have a myriad of points combined that they think are sound, which is why I often choose on from their long screed to show them that in similar fashion when each statement is looked at and dealt with properly you often find straw-men, non-sequiturs, of category mistakes. Here is an example:

  • You see that is why there are 40,000 denominations approximately. Each interprets the bible differently, never mind all the other religions. Saying the bible is spot on is totally crazy

I thought I responded to this in the past… but after searching through my Word docs and my sites… I have not in fact posted responses to this challenge. So here I wish to do just that. But first, I want to define myself, and what “I am”

DEFINITIONS

I am broadly a theist, which is a theological system which postulates a transcendent God who is the creator of the universe, an immanent God who sustains it, and a personal God who is able to communicate with and redeem his creation. Christian theism is monotheistic.  I vigorously defend the theistic worldview as well as showing the inequities and the self-refuting nature of the opposing worldviews such as pantheism, panantheism, atheism, and polytheism.

Then I am rightly considered within the Protestantism tradition or movement.  Protestantism is considered the second wave of Christianity, that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Its name is derived from Protestatio, a statement issued by 5 reforming princes and 14 cities of the Holy Roman Empire at the Diet of Spayer in 1529.  The term Protestatio did not imply a mere protest, but a confession.  For the early Reformers, Protestantism was not so much a revolution as a revival of the faith and practices of the early church.

The five marks of the Protestant Church may not apply to all churches falling under this rubric, but they express the driving theological convictions of the early Reformers:

  1. The authority of the Scriptures as the definitive guide to faith and practice. They uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which means that only traditions and liturgical practices that are consistent with the Scriptures are acceptable;
  1. Justification by faith. For Luther and his associates, justification by faith constituted the capstone of the Christian faith. Whereas the Catholic faith teaches that the grace of God must be supplemented by human merits and sacramental grace, Protestants teach that every believer is justified by faith and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer;
  1. Regenerative power of consecration by baptism and the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper. The latter is accepted not as a sacrifice in which there is transubstantiation of the elements, but as a memorial in which the Lord is present in some form for believers to feed upon;
  1. Priesthood of all believers;
  1. Ministry. Most Protestant denominations accept at least three orders of ministers: bishop (superintendent), pastor, and deacon.

Protestant denominations number in the thousands, and vary widely in structure, theology, and forms of worship.  Some denominations are close to Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and others are close to Unitarianism.  The eight principle streams of modern Protestantism are Episcopal or Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian (including Calvinist or Reformed), Lutheran, Congregational, Baptist, Holiness, and Pentecostal.  Within each of these denominations there are warring liberal and conservative or evangelical factions that sometimes merge and at other times split.  Among the most prominent Protestant theologians of the late twentieth century are Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jurgen Moltmann, John R, Stott, Thomas F. Torrance, J. I. Packer, and E. Jungel.

I am then classed even further by my adherence to Evangelicalism.  It is one of the main strands of Protestant Christianity.  Its distinguishing marks are acceptance of scriptural authority as binding on Christians, personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and adherence to historic Trinitarianism.  In almost all countries, Evangelicals are pitted against the liberals, and there are divisions between conservatives and liberals even within Evangelicalism.  The Laodicean character of the liberal churches, as contrasted with the earnestness of the Evangelicals, has helped the latter gain an edge in terms of converts and growth.

Evangelicals have been on the forefront of the missionary movement.  The Church Missionary Society in England and the British and Foreign Bible Society owe their origins to Evangelicals.  In the nineteenth century, Evangelicalism received a boost from the revivalist movements and from the Keswick Convention.  With Evangelicalism’s twin focus of world missions and personal consecration, the social gospel (a theological movement in North America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries emphasizing social improvement  over propagation of the Gospel) has disappeared from its horizon.  In the post WWII period, the conservative Evangelicals have spearheaded a revival under the leadership of John Stott, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Carl Henry, and others.  The crusades of Billy Graham, the Charismatic movement, the impact of Inter-Varsity Fellowship among students, the popularity of theology as an academic discipline, and experiments in new forms of worship and evangelism have contributed to the phenomenal growth of Evangelicalism.

RESPONDING TO CHALLENGE

Now on to the challenge itself, which, the self-definition above will exemplify the main points. When I first cam across the argument myself, it was 33,000 denominations, which “WAR_EAGLE” points out is a fluctuating number in his concise refutation of this number:

This morning, an atheist poster was kind enough to provide us with yet another refutation of the “33,000 denominations” lie and I just thought I’d share it with you here, since he is not able to share that here.

Among The Criticism’s Of The Methodology Used To Arrive At That Ever Fluctuating Number:

  • These “denominations” are defined in terms of being separate organisations, not necessarily separate beliefs. This is a critical difference, not commonly noted by critics.
  • The largest component (something like two thirds to three quarters) of these totals are “independent” churches, mostly in Africa. These are not necessarily different in doctrine, but are simply independent organisations.
  • These estimates include national branches of the same denomination (e.g. the Lutheran Church of Germany and the Lutheran Church of Australia) as separate organisations in the count.
  • There are many churches among the independent churches which would have effectively the same teachings, just different locations, different leaders, etc.

It is thus incorrect to say that these figures indicate more than 40,000 different beliefs. It is impossible to tell how many differences in belief there would be, and probably impossible even to define. But it would certainly be far less than the 43,000 figure.

Differences In Belief:

  • The sources suggest Christian denominations can be divided into “6 major ecclesiastico-cultural mega-blocs”: Independents, Protestants, “Marginals”, Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Anglicans.
  • Wikipedia lists about 40 major divisions, each of whom might have some variation in belief.
  • The degree of difference in belief is hard to describe. For example, most of these denominations would have similar beliefs about major christian doctrines such as God, creation, Jesus, salvation, Holy Spirit, forgiveness, etc, and the differences would mostly be on less essential matters. How much these differences matter is subjective.

Conclusions

The denominations measured in these two reports are not indicators of separate belief, and quoting them as such is a mis-statement of the data. Due to the large number of independent churches, it is impossible to know how much christian belief varies beyond that defined by the 40 or so groups listed in Wikipedia.

(See THE WAY’S post on this)

In the above challenge of 40,000 denominations… Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and other cults are included in the number. Using the same criteria found in the ever-changing large number we see how the criteria works out to an INFLATED NUMBER: Please realize, this includes “Gnostics” (!), Mormons (122 denominations worth!) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (228 denominations)! No Christian church would include them as a “Christian denomination,” unless infected by a form of liberalism that causes a universal viewpoint. That is, all people are going to heaven. This question about denominations comes up often by Mormons. They typically claim they are the one true church… but there are well over 40-factions of Mormonism (“denominations”). How do they themselves distinguish what is true?

Even the Roman Catholic church has 242 “denominations.” (See Dr. White’s presentation near the bottom)

Here is a good concluding remark of a larger response:

Denominations were probably not Christ’s first choice for His church. We recall His prayer that His church would be one (John 17:20-21), and can imagine that He would have preferred for His church to remain fully unified for the cause of Christ. But denominations came to help serve the purpose of God in many important ways:

  • They helped to divide and scatter the influence of the Gospel to a wider spectrum of people.
  • They helped to filter out the spread of harmful heresies and false doctrines.
  • They have unified significant portions of the body of Christ, integrating those congregations of similar views. Even though a denomination may not have an organizational affiliation with all other churches, this does not have to represent disunity any more than a local church who seeks to befriend and support its neighboring congregations. Wise denominational leaders have used their influence to help their flock see the larger family picture of Christianity.

Thank God there will be no denominational divisions in Heaven, only those who have agreed upon their faith in the precious atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

(APOLOGETIC INDEX)

An historical analogy for one of the bullet points above may help. If the world was made up of a “Pangaea” of a country (one country/one world order), it would be impossible to stop a “Hitler” or Mao,” or “Stalin” conquering said world. But because the world is divided into different cultures, languages, and the like… it is near impossible for a tyrant to overthrow the world. (Which is one reason why a “united Europe” is looked upon as a net negative.)

(Hat-Tip To STEVE’S CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICAL INFOGRAPHICS)

Similarly, as was already pointed out, these many denominations “helped to filter out the spread of harmful heresies and false doctrines.”

CATHOLIC’S CONTINUE MYTH

There are of course NEGATIVE VIEWS of the “many denominations,” but all-in-all, it is not a very good challenge to a thoughtful Christian that the many denominations are somehow evidence that Christianity is not true, is a battle Catholics have lost FOR A WHILE NOW.

Here is an older video with James White (Jan 7, 2009):

  • Most (not all) Roman Catholic apologists repeat the same falsehood over and over again: that there are 33,000 Protestant denominations due to sola scriptura. 

I hope this helps.

Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Bill Maher Added)

(Updated Graphics Below – JUMP)

(For video description and links, GO HERE)

More videos/articles like this:

Shattering the Christ Myth (J. P. Holding) — Buy Holding’s book, Shattering the Christ Myth; Tektonics.org articles on Jesus Mythicism and CopycatsJesus Never Existed?: Give Me a Break! (with Paul L. Maier); Jesus of Testimony (a documentary defending the historical existence of Jesus); Debunking Robert M. Price ~ 6-Part Series (leading Christ Mythicist is refuted by Phil Fernandes); Debunking Richard Carrier ~ 2-Part Series (another leading proponent of the Jesus Myth theory); The God Who Wasn’t There, Refuted (Tektonics); Jesus Legend (by Greg Boyd) — Buy Boyd’s book on the, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition — and his book, Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma; Is Jesus a Legend? (Phil Fernandes) — Part 1 and Part 2; Is the Movie Zeitgeist Accurate? ~ Larry Wessels and Steve Morrison || Dr. Mark Foreman || and Michael Boehm.

See my pages on the topic of mystery religion and Jesus:

Here is some information from a wonderful book, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, in my “Evidence” paper:

  • The fact that the early church fathers lived at the same time as these 500 [+] witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ and his ascension (believers: Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Papius, Polycarp, Quadratus.) (Non-believers [some were contemporaries]: Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Talmudic writings [A.D. 70-200], Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Gospel of Truth, the Acts of Pontius Pilate.)

Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that: 1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; 2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; 3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; 4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilot in the reign of Tiberius; 5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; 6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside – men and women, slave and free – worshipped him as God by the beginning of the second century (100 A.D.)

Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 221-222

This is the MEAT from a larger — must read — article via STAND TO REASON:

Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Witnesses
There are a number of ancient classical accounts of Jesus from pagan Greek sources. These accounts are generally hostile to Christianity and try to explain away the miraculous nature of Jesus and the events that surrounded his life. Let’s look at these hostile accounts and see what they tell us about Jesus:

Thallus (52AD)
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we would see that every aspect of Jesus’ life could be verified with a non-biblical source. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, he was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:

“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

This EARLY description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed that Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers et regularly to worship Jesus.

Suetonius (69-140AD)
Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. His writings about Christians describe their treatment under the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD):

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” (Life of Claudius, 25:4)

This expulsion took place in 49AD, and in another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result:

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” (Lives of the Caesars, 26.2)

There is much we can learn from Suetonius as it is related to the life of early Christians. From this very EARLY account, we know that Jesus had an immediate impact on his followers. They believed that Jesus was God enough to withstand the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on his followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.

Tacitus (56-120AD)
Cornelius Tacitus was known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116AD, he describes Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

In this account, Tacitus confirms for us that Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
Sometime after 70AD, a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compared the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. The fact that Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. As a matter of fact, Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King”:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

From this account, we can add to our understanding of Jesus. We can conclude that Jesus was a wise and influential man who died for his beliefs. We can also conclude that his followers adopted these beliefs and lived lives that reflected them to the world in which they lived.

Phlegon (80-140AD)
In a manner similar to Thallus, Julius Africanus also mentions a historian named Phlegon who wrote a chronicle of history around 140AD. In this history, Phlegon also mentions the darkness surrounding the crucifixion in an effort to explain it:

“Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen (an early church theologian and scholar, born in Alexandria):

“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 14)

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … ” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 33)

“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 59)

From these accounts, we can add something to our understand of Jesus and conclude that Jesus had the ability to accurately predict the future, was crucified under the reign of Tiberius Caesar and demonstrated his wounds after he was resurrected!

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
Lucian was a Greek satirist who spoke sarcastically of Christ and Christians, but in the process, he did affirm that they were real people and never referred to them as fictional characters:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13)

From this account we can add to our description and conclude that Jesus taught about repentance and about the family of God. These teachings were quickly adopted by Jesus’ followers and exhibited to the world around them.

Celsus (175AD)
This is the last hostile ‘pagan’ account we will examine (although there are many other later accounts in history). Celsus was quite hostile to the Gospels, but in his criticism, he unknowingly affirms and reinforces the authors and their content. His writing is extensive and he alludes to 80 different Biblical quotes, confirming their early appearance in history. In addition, he admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the early 2nd century! Here is a portion of his text:

“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”

Celsus admits that Jesus was reportedly born of a virgin, but then argues that this could supernatural account could not be possible and offers the idea that he was a bastard son of a man named Panthera (an idea borrowed from Jews who opposed Jesus at the time). But in writing this account, Celsus does confirm that Jesus had an earthly father who was a carpenter, possessed unusual magical powers and claimed to be God.

Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses
In addition to classical ‘pagan’ sources that chronicle the life of Jesus and his followers, there are also a number of ancient hostile Jewish sources that talk about Jesus. These are written by Jewish theologians, historians and leaders who were definitely NOT sympathetic to the Christian cause. Their writings are often VERY harsh, critical and even demeaning to Jesus. But there is still much that these writings confirm.

Josephus (37-101AD)
In more detail than any other non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in his “the Antiquities of the Jews” in 93AD. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at age thirteen, was a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. Now there is much controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians, who are accused of making additions to the text. So to be fair, let’s take a look at a scholarly reconstruction that has removed all the possible Christian influence from the text related to Jesus:

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” (This neutral reconstruction follows closely the one proposed in the latest treatment by John Meier, Marginal Jew 1:61)

Now there are many other ancient versions of Josephus’ writing which are even more explicit about the nature of his miracles, his life and his status as the Christ, but let’s take this conservative version and see what we can learn. From this text, we can conclude that Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused buy the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians!

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray” (b. Sanhedrin 43a; cf. t. Shabbat 11.15; b. Shabbat 104b)

“Rabbi Hisda (d. 309) said that Rabbi Jeremiah bar Abba said, ‘What is that which is written, ‘No evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your house’? (Psalm 91:10)… ‘No evil will befall you’ (means) that evil dreams and evil thoughts will not tempt you; ‘nor shall any plague come near your house’ (means) that you will not have a son or a disciple who burns his food like Jesus of Nazareth.” (b. Sanhedrin 103a; cf. b. Berakhot 17b)

“Our rabbis have taught that Jesus had five disciples: Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. They brought Matthai to (to trial). He said, ‘Must Matthai be killed? For it is written, ‘When (mathai) shall I come and appear before God?’” (Psalm 92:2) They said to him, “Yes Matthai must be killed, for it is written, ‘When (mathai) he dies his name will perish’” (Psalm 41:5). They brought Nakai. He said to them, “Must Nakai be killed? For it is written, “The innocent (naqi) and the righteous will not slay’” (Exodus 23:7). They said to him, “Yes, Nakai must be kille, for it is written, ‘In secret places he slays the innocent (naqi)’” (Psalm 10:8). (b. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah)

And this, perhaps the most famous of Talmudic passages about Jesus:

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favor, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

From just these passages that mention Jesus by name, we can conclude that Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith (one of whom was named Matthai), and was executed on the day before the Passover.

The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)
The Toledot Yeshu is a medieval Jewish retelling of the life of Jesus. It is completely anti-Christian, to be sure. There are many versions of these ‘retellings’, and as part of the transmitted oral and written tradition of the Jews, we can presume their original place in antiquity, dating back to the time of Jesus’ first appearance as an influential leader who was drawing Jews away from their faith in the Law. The Toledot Yeshu contains a determined effort to explain away the miracles of Jesus, and to deny the virgin birth. In some places, the text is quite vicious, but it does confirm many elements of the New Testament writings. Let’s take a look at a portion of the text (Jesus is refered to as ‘Yehoshua’):

“In the year 3671 (in Jewish reckonging, it being ca 90 B.C.) in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah. Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing. At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will. Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam… Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu (“Yeshu” is the Jewish “name” for Jesus. It means “May His Name Be Blotted Out”). On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the Jewish tradition. One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a niddah. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee. After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God’s Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters. He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’” He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: ‘The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.’” The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah. The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: “This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone.” Yeshu replied, “The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,’ and I am he; but as for them, Scripture says ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.’” Queen Helene asked the Sages: “What he says, is it in your Torah?” They replied: “It is in our Torah, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: ‘And that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.’ He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah.” Yeshu spoke up: “Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead.” A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: “This is a true sign.” She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Yeshu’s dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel. Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. the Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Yeshu practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him. The found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Yeshu said to the men of Upper Galilee: “Wage no battle.” He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Yeshu, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment. Then the Sages selected a man named Judah Iskarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Yeshu had done. When Yeshu was summoned before the queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Judah Iskarioto. Yeshu said: “It is spoken of me, ‘I will ascend into heaven.’” He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between heaven and earth, to the amazement of everyone…Yeshu was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with pomegranate staves; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable Name. Yeshu was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Yeshu, as a result of which the followers escaped with Yeshu to the region of Antioch; there Yeshu remained until the eve of the Passover. Yeshu then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Judah Iskarioto apprised the Sages that Yeshu was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Yeshu was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages. Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the carob-stalk, for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree.” They buried him outside the city. On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden. Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Yeshu be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanhuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Yeshu’s followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, “This is Yeshu who is said to have ascended to heaven.” Realizing that Yeshu was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

Now in spite of the fact that the ancient Jews who wrote this did their best to argue for another interpretation of the Life of Jesus, they did make several claims here about Jesus. This passage, along with several others from the Toledot tradition, confirms that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, healed the lame, said that Isaiah foretold of his life, was worshipped as God, arrested by the Jews, beaten with rods, given vinegar to drink, wore a crown of thorns, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, was betrayed by a man named Judah Iskarioto, and had followers who claimed he was resurrected and ascended, leaving an empty tomb!


UPDATE via FACEBOOK


Here are some pictures via a Facebook Group (HERE):

Discussing History and Faith With A Tow Truck Driver

(My Facebook descriptor) The tow-truck driver I hitched a ride with today was probably surprised at the level of conversation in a reasonable and rational way. I enjoyed the challenges, and I am sure Charlie did as well. topics of discussion I engaged:

  • Everything good comes from God, but Priests say when something bad happens, it’s you;
  • Wars caused by religion, most wars not religions;
  • Secular governments that rejected God killed more people in 100 years than all religions previously;
  • Belief in the afterlife creates a worse world;
  • Halloween (yep, I was taken aback as well).

While driving the 5am delivery around, the work van started to give me an “Overheating” warning. I finished my 2-remaining drops and headed back to the shop… but the van would have nothing of it. So I nursed it into Grace Community Church’s parking lot and the office called for a tow truck – which took a little over an hour-and-a-half (they were busy). One of the security guards came out to check on me and I asked him if I could use the restroom. He said yes. I told him I had to retrieve my mask, he mentioned no masks were mandated to wear, that I could if I wished. I chose to support the Church’s “gravitas” and went in mask-less. Awesome. I love Grace. As I was walking around to hit the head, the security guard witnessed to me… I thought that was more awesomer.

So when the tow truck service guy (Charlie, a nice guy) had me loaded up and we were driving out, he asked what the place was I was sitting at. I explained it was a church, one of the better ones. I mentioned a couple more things about it, and then Charlie started to criticize the Christian Faith (mainly Catholicism at first), speaking of greed, how the people say all good things come from God but then when something bad happens like an accident – we are to blame, how rich the Catholic Church is, and all the wars religion started, and how people who believe in an afterlife make the world worse.

(This is a general recalling of our conversation)

I mentioned to him that I cannot speak to his points regarding the Vatican, as, I am not Catholic. But I did choose to address a couple of his broader points. (I had to break into his speaking about one topic and then going to another.)

The first point I made is that the Bible does not promise your life to be “good,” and harm free. On the Contrary, the Bible – from Genesis to Revelations documents man’s fallen nature and that from Genesis to Revelation that mankind needs a savior… someone to step into the place of wretched humanity to save it. I said, we need saving, not comfort.

I also mentioned that Nietzsche said that the death of God in the 19th century would all but guarantee the bloodiest 20th century. I then noted in conversation that this prediction came true… telling Charlie that in less than 100 years, non-God movements in Communism and Marxism through Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Hitler, and others, killed more people than ALL religions previous to the 20th century.

He broke in and said this wasn’t true, and I could tell his language barrier with me was frustrating him. So I jumped in when I had a chance and mentioned that two encyclopedia sets went through 10,000 years of warfare and categorized the reasons for these wars.  I mentioned these encyclopedia sets by name: Encyclopedia of Wars, 3 volumes – and — The Encyclopedia of War, 5 Volumes. I told him that only 7% of all wars were religious, and that if you took out Islamic wars, all other religions cause about 3% of the wars in a 10,000 year period.

DATA POINTS FOR THE READER:

  • A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be ‘most’ really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare. The authors are nine history professors who specifically conducted research or the text for a decade in order to chronicle a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years(RPT)
  • (A well known atheist agrees) Atheists often claim that religion fuels aggressive wars, both because it exacerbates antagonisms between opponents and also because it gives aggressors confidence by making them feel as if they have God on their side. Lots of wars certainly look as if they are motivated by religion. Just think about conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Asian subcontinent, Indonesia, and various parts of Africa. However, none of these wars is exclusively religious. They always involve political, economic, and ethnic disputes as well. That makes it hard to specify how much [of a] role, if any, religion itself had in causing any particular war. Defenders of religion argue that religious language is misused to justify what warmongers wanted to do independently of religion. This hypothesis might seem implausible to some, but it is hard to refute, partly because we do not have enough data points, and there is so much variation among wars. — Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Morality Without God? (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 33-34 

I then mentioned to him a study (I was wrong about the source, I thought Stanford — it was actually done by a University of Oregon psychologist) that found that a country’s belief in heaven and hell is related to its crime rates, and that a belief in a punitive God equals less crime. So belief in a God where our actions can be morally judged make a better society.

Charlie broke into discussion about Halloween for some reason, wanting a response about why people dress up in costumes. I said I do not know much beyond that it is a Pagan holiday of sorts, and that the Church wanted to evangelize these Pagans and so stuck a holiday close to it – All Saints Eve. (I may be wrong, but what Charlie then followed up with I knew was wrong. He said that the Church killing people had a connection to it.

I said I don’t think that is the case, mentioning the Druids and Irish Paganism being more connected to the issue than anything.*

He again brought up the Vatican, and I again noted I am not Catholic, and that the church I went to spent a lion’s share of their funds on missionaries around the world in tough places (Africa, Middle-East, and even one couple that would try to sneak across the border to North Korea at times), as well as having a large outreach to the poorer Hispanic area of the church’s influence.

We were at our destination finally (the shop that fixes our work truck and van.) I said, “Charlie, remember two things from this conversation. You were wrong, historically about religion and wars, as well as ‘religious’ people making the world worse. I ask you to remember these two examples because they are great examples of how you approach the Christian Faith: with bad facts and evidence. Try to approach these topics from a better starting point and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.”

At that, we went our separate ways. After some paperwork of course. I did finish with “Charlie, I had a pleasure discussing this with you.” But in the back of my mind, I really was thinking:

*NOTE:

There’s no one explanation for how Halloween costumes originated. Much like the holiday itself, the practice of dressing up is the result of a hodgepodge of traditions from around the world.

Many historians suspect that the tradition has some basis in the Celtic festival of Samhain (also called Calan Gaeaf in Wales). Celebrated between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, Samhain marks the official start of winter—known to the Celts as the “dark season.” During Samhain, “the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

That wasn’t a comfort to the ancient Celts, who believed their deities were prone to playing tricks on human worshippers. Many festival participants disguised themselves as animals or beasts, hoping to hide from malevolent spirits who might bring them misfortune.

Move forward a few centuries and the modern-day practice of dressing up and trick-or-treating has its roots in the European custom of “mumming and guising.” Mummers would dress up in costumes, often woven from straw, and perform plays and songs for neighbors in exchange for food. Scottish and Irish immigrants brought that tradition to North America, where it later morphed into what we now know as trick-or-treating.

Halloween costumes didn’t experience their true heyday until the mid-1900s, though. For that, you can thank New York City entrepreneurs Ben and Nat Cooper, who started a company producing pop culture-themed costumes at a low cost. Ben Cooper, Inc., found a niche in helping kids become the characters they admired from television and comic books, often purchasing merchandising rights before said characters ever became popular. Due in no small part to the Cooper family’s innovation, Halloween costumes became an accessible and even necessary part of holiday festivities…..

(MENTAL FLOSS)

Christian Nationalism? Conflating neo-Paganism with Christianity

What I find interesting about the article by Rachel S. Mikva (USA TODAY) is her grouping these people with Christianity. For instance, she seems to think that the horned guy mentioning “god” means he is referencing “God” (the Judeo-Christian God). For instance, here is a decent article zeroing in on the neo-Pagan aspects of the white supremacy movement. Of which I know personally about being that I was in jail for almost a year-and-a-half. I know their neo-Pagan systems of belief well. As well as studying the Third Reich love of this Paganism. See for instance:

  • God vs. Hitler (RPT)
  • NAZI Occultism (RPT)

…more to follow audio…

Here is an excerpt from THE CONVERSATION:

Then Jacob Chansley, sometimes called the “QAnon Shaman,” took his bullhorn and announced gratitude to God for being able to “send a message to all the tyrants, the communists, and the globalists that this is our nation, not theirs.”Bare-chested to expose his white supremacist tattoos, he had paused briefly to remove his Viking-inspired horned headdress and cap — presumably to assume a properly humble posture as he claimed the United States for himself and his fellow-believers.  

One thing that should make it very clear where Angeli’s politics lie are his tattoos. On his torso he has a large Thor’s hammer, known as Mjölnir, and what appears to be an image of the Norse world tree, Yggdrasill.

Mjölnir is one symbol we can be pretty sure was used by the original adherents of the Norse belief system, perhaps to summon the protection of the god Thor. Yggdrasill is the giant ash tree that supports the Norse cosmos, its branches reaching into sky realms inaccessible to humans, and its roots to the subterranean realm of the dead. Unlike Thor’s hammer, it was only rarely depicted by the Vikings, and representations such as the one below are modern interpretations.

Above these tattoos with a central place in Norse mythology is one that is more contentious. It depicts a valknut – an image that appears on two Viking-Age stones from Sweden carved with scenes from Norse mythology, including the Stora Hammars I stone on the island of Gotland.

The symbol’s original meaning is unclear, but it appears in close proximity to the father of the gods, Odin, on the stones. As Odin is closely connected with the gathering of fallen warriors to Valhalla, the valknut may be a symbol of death in battle.

Snorri Sturluson, a medieval Icelandic collector of myths, tells us in his “Language of Poetry” that a famous giant called Hrungnir had a stone heart “pointed with three corners”, and so the valknut is sometimes also called “Hrungnir’s Heart”. Whatever its original meaning, it has been used in more recent times by various neo-pagan groups – and increasingly by some white supremacists as a coded message of their belief in violent struggle…..

Another post with some names of the Norse gods is here. When I was in jail, I met a couple “Odinites”

ODINISM

…Odinism is another term for Asatru, a pagan religion. But in the FBI’s Project Megiddo, it was described as a:

… white supremacist ideology that lends itself to violence and has the potential to inspire its followers to violence in connection to the millennium. What makes Odinists dangerous is the fact that many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause. — FBI Report: Project Megiddo

In response, a prominent Asatru organization published Asatru/Odinism: A Briefing for Law Enforcement Officials

ARTICLES:

The New Romantics ”A Swedish expert on right-wing extremism says that racist Odinism is the radical religion of the future.” By Mattias Gardell, professor of religious history at the University of Stockholm’s Center for Research in International Migration and Ethnic Relations, writing in the Spring, 2001 edition of Intelligence Report (published by the Southern Poverty Law Center). See also: Clarification, by Mattias Gardell.

SEE ALSO

(APOLOGETICS INDEX)

ASATRU

What is Asatru?
Long before Christianity came to northern Europe, the people there – our ancestors – had their own religions. One of these was Asatru. It was practiced in the lands that are today Scandinavia, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and other countries as well. Asatru is the original, or native, religion for the peoples who lived in these regions. Simply put, you might think of it as ”the religion of the Vikings” since they were its main followers in the years just before our ancestors were forced to adopt Christianity.

What does the word ”Asatru” mean?
It means, roughly, “belief in the Gods” in Old Norse, the language of ancient Scandinavia in which so much of our source material was written. Asatru is the name by which the Norsemen called their religion.

[…]

What are the basic tenets or beliefs of Asatru?
We believe in an underlying, all-pervading divine energy or essence which is generally hidden from us, and which is beyond our immediate understanding. We further believe that this spiritual reality is interdependent with us – that we affect it, and it affects us.

We believe that this underlying divinity expresses itself to us in the forms of the Gods and Goddesses. Stories about these deities are like a sort of code, the mysterious ”language” through which the divine reality speaks to us.

We believe in standards of behavior which are consistent with these spiritual truths and harmonious with our deepest being.

How does Asatru differ from other religions?
Asatru is unlike the better-known religions in many ways. Some of these are:

We are polytheistic. That is, we believe in a number of deities, including Goddesses as well as Gods. (We have a tongue-in-cheek saying that a religion without a Goddess is halfway to atheism!)

We do not accept the idea of ”original sin,” the notion that we are tainted from birth and intrinsically bad, as does Christianity. Thus, we do not need ”saving.”

We do not claim to be a universal religion, a faith for all of humankind. In fact, we don’t think such a thing is possible or desirable. The different branches of humanity have different ways of looking at the world, each of which is valid for them. It is only right that they have different religions…..

Asatru is also called Odinism:

  • Asatru (pronounced AS-a-tru or OW-sa-tru) is a word which means ”those true to the Gods” in Icelandic. It is one of the words used to label the pre-Christian, native religion of Scandinavia and the Germanic countries. Another term used for these beliefs is ”Odinism,” and it will be used throughout this document as meaning the same as Asatru. (Source: A Brief History of Asatru, or Odinism)

That quote is part of an article titled, Asatru/Odinism: A Briefing for Law Enforcement Officials. It was written in large part in response to the inclusion of Odinism in the FBI’s Project Megiddo report:

Finally, Odinism is another white supremacist ideology that lends itself to violence and has the potential to inspire its followers to violence in connection to the millennium. What makes Odinists dangerous is the fact that many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause. For example, Bob Mathews, the leader of The Order, died in a fiery confrontation with law enforcement. Also, William King relished the fact that he would receive the death penalty for his act of dragging James Byrd, Jr. to his death. Odinism has little to do with Christian Identity but there is one key similarity: Odinism provides dualism — as does Christian Identity — with regard to the universe being made up of worlds of light (white people) and worlds of dark (non-white people). The most fundamental difference between the two ideologies is that Odinists do not believe in Jesus Christ. However, there are enough similarities between the myths and legends of Odinism and the beliefs of Christian Identity to make a smooth transition from Christian Identity to Odinism for those racist individuals whose penchant for violence is not being satisfied. (Source: White Supremacy, Project Megiddo)…..

(APOLOGETICS INDEX)

“Amen” and “A Woman” | Crazy Democrats

(WIKI) Amen (Hebrew: אָמֵן‘ʾāmēn’; Greek: ἀμήν‘amín’; Arabic: آمین‘āmīna’; Aramaic/Syriac: ܐܵܡܝܼܢ‘ʾāmīn’) is an Abrahamic declaration of affirmation first found in the Hebrew Bible, and subsequently in the New Testament. It is used in Jewish, Christian and Islamic worship, as a concluding word, or as a response to a prayer. Common English translations of the word amen include “verily”, “truly”, and “so be it”. It is also used colloquially, to express strong agreement.

[….]

The usage of amen, meaning “so be it” (as found in the early scriptures of the Bible), is a word of Biblical Hebrew origin. The word originated in the Hebrew Scriptures, as a confirmatory response; it is found in Deuteronomy as a confirmatory response made by the people. Moreover, in the Books of Chronicles (16:36), it is indicated that around 1000 BC, the word was used in its religious sense, with the people responding “Amen” upon hearing the blessing, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from now and unto all eternity”. The basic triconsonantal root from which the word is derived, is common to a number of languages in the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages, including biblical Aramaic. The word was imported into the Greek from the Judaism of the early Church. From Greek, amen entered the other Western languages. According to a standard dictionary etymology, amen passed from Greek into Late Latin, and thence into English. Rabbinic scholars from medieval France believed the standard Hebrew word for faith emuna comes from the root amen. Although in English transliteration they look different, they are both from the root aleph-mem-nun. That is, the Hebrew word amen derives from the same ancient triliteral Hebrew root as does the verb ʾāmán.

Grammarians frequently list ʾāmán under its three consonants (aleph-mem-nun), which are identical to those of ʾāmēn (note that the Hebrew letter א aleph represents a glottal stop sound, which functions as a consonant in the morphology of Hebrew). This triliteral root means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.

LIBERTY LOFT

Charlotte, NC — To open each Congressional session, a prayer is said. At the start of a new Congress, a prayer is said for that specific Congress. This year, the prayer was said, but it was a complete slap in the face to our founding fathers and our nation’s history.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) opened the session in prayer. Cleaver was a United Methodist Pastor and the prayer did not deviate far from normal until he was near the end of his prayer.

Cleaver said he was praying to the monotheistic God, Brahma the Hindu god, and God known by many different names by many different faiths. It’s a significant departure for a nation that was founded on Judeo-Christian faith. But that’s not all.

To conclude his prayer, Cleaver apparently thought he was going to pray gender-neutral and said the words Amen and a woman. You can see his comments below and the Washington Examiner does a great job sharing that the word amen is not a reference to masculinity, but rather a word that translates “so be it.”…..

Here is the video:

DAILY WIRE great commentary:

….The first explanation for the bizarre expansion of “amen” to “amen and a woman” could be that Rep. Cleaver is simply guilty of appalling ignorance. However, given that Cleaver served as the pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1972 to 2009, it seems difficult to believe that such a statement can be chalked up to irreligious stupidity. Surely, after almost 40 years in the profession, Cleaver would know that “amen” doesn’t mean “a man?”

Then, what is to blame? The answer, quite obviously, is the absurd gender politics which have taken root at the heart of progressivism. After all, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has “proposed eliminating references to gender and establishing an Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the House.” Like Pelosi’s actions, could Cleaver’s laughable inclusion of “a woman” be another example of a pre-radical Democrat trying to survive in this new radical world?

Regardless of whether or not Cleaver is a true believer, what should cause further concern for conservatives — beyond the inaccuracy of Cleaver’s redefinition or his blatant pandering — is that his prayer demonstrates how nothing is safe when it comes to the new and fluid demands of the radical Left.

Long gone are the days of “Chairperson” replacing “Chairman” or “Chairwoman.” Similarly, long gone are the days of meaningless linguistic inventions such as “Latinx” or “womxn.” The radical Left’s lust for cultural dominance is never satisfied, and their appetite has been forced to grow more refined as their targets become harder to identify.

The scary part is not the absurdity of the radical Left or their fundamental premises — these have always been nonsensical — but the continued enthusiasm of those held hostage, forced to bow to their ever-changing demands. Even a pastor, an apparently religious man who presumably respects the words and meaning of scripture, is happy to bastardize language in order to survive another day.

It is this detail which should remind conservatives that the battle for language is more important than ever before. This “prayer” represents far more than ignorance or meaningless pandering. It shows that even religion — the one last entity which transcends the power of “the state” — has fallen into the cross-hairs of a radical Left who hope to dominate our language in their quest for power.

It’s not enough that we laugh at the absurdity of “amen and a woman.” It’s time we realized that the cultural battle is being fought on yet another front.

This sparked some responses

MY FACEBOOK:

What kind of a woke moron ends a prayer with “amen and awoman”? Amen is Latin for “so be it.” ohhh a Democrat.


Cleaver ended his prayer to open up the 117th Congress on Sunday with the words “amen and awoman.”

Video of the prayer’s ending was posted to Twitter by Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, who pointed out that the word “amen” is Latin for “so be it.”

“It’s not a gendered word,” Reschenthaler wrote. “Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”…..

(DAILY CALLER)

BEN SHAPIRO + CLIFFORD D. MAY

THE O.T. via JERRY ADAMS


SOME APOLOGETICS


SEE ALSO:

The Bible vs. Andy Stanley (Updated)

I do wonder if Andy Stanley considers Trump, like he did Obama, a “pastor-in-chief.” But I like how REFORMATION CHARLOTTE puts it: “Andy Stanley’s Church Closing is a Blessing From God to His People, We Should Thank Him!” Heh, so true.

This is an updated post regarding the false teacher, Andy Stanley, with some more video by Wretched (above). But always the J. Gresham Machen’s portion comes first — with some video of the questionable sermons added as well:

J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism, first published in 1923, has shown amazing resiliency in the applicability of its message. When I heard Andy Stanley’s recent comments that we should stop asking, “What does the Bible say about that?” Machen’s words immediately came to mind. According to Stanley, that terrible question should be exchanged for, “What does the New Covenant teach?” or “Even better, what does Jesus teach?” because the two covenants conflict. Watch his comments here, or the full message entitled “Mix ‘N Match”. In light of Stanley’s teaching, read the quote below from Machen, but every time Machen writes about the modern liberal substitute the name Andy Stanley.

If the Christian make full use of his Christian privileges, he finds the seat of authority in the whole Bible, which he regards as no mere word of man but as the very Word of God. Very different is the view of modern liberalism. The modern liberal rejects not only the doctrine of plenary inspiration but even such respect for the Bible as would be proper over against any ordinarily trustworthy book. But what is substituted for the Christian view of the Bible? What is the liberal view as to the seat of authority in religion?

The impression is sometimes produced that the modern liberal substitutes for the authority of the Bible the authority of Christ. He cannot accept, he says, what he regards as the perverse moral teaching of the Old Testament or the sophistical arguments of Paul. But he regards himself as being the true Christian because, rejecting the rest of the Bible, he depends upon Jesus alone.

This impression, however, is utterly false. The modern liberal does not really hold to the authority of Jesus. Even if he did so, indeed, he would still be impoverishing greatly his knowledge of God and of the way of salvation.

The words of Jesus, spoken during His earthly ministry, could hardly contain all that we need to know about God and about the way of salvation; for the meaning of Jesus’ redeeming work could hardly be fully set forth before that work was done. It could be set forth indeed by way of prophecy, and as a matter of fact, it was so set forth by Jesus even in the days of His flesh. But the full explanation could naturally be given only after the work was done. And such was actually the divine method. It is doing despite, not only to the Spirit of God but also to Jesus Himself, to regard the teaching of the Holy Spirit, given through the apostles, as at all inferior in authority to the teaching of Jesus.

As a matter of fact, however, the modern liberal does not hold fast even to the authority of Jesus. Certainly, he does not accept the words of Jesus as they are recorded in the Gospels. For among the recorded words of Jesus are to be found just those things which are most abhorrent to the modern liberal Church, and in His recorded words Jesus also points forward to the fuller revelation which was afterwards to be given through His apostles. Evidently, therefore, those words of Jesus which are to be regarded as authoritative by modern liberalism must first be selected from the mass of the recorded words by a critical process. The critical process is certainly very difficult, and the suspicion often arises that the critic is retaining as genuine words of the historical Jesus only those words which conform to his own preconceived ideas. But even after the sifting process has been completed, the liberal scholar is still unable to accept as authoritative all the sayings of Jesus; he must finally admit that even the “historical” Jesus as reconstructed by modern historians said some things that are untrue.

So much is usually admitted. But, it is maintained, although not everything that Jesus said is true, His central “life-purpose” is still to be regarded as regulative for the Church. But what then was the life-purpose of Jesus? According to the shortest, and if modern criticism be accepted, the earliest of the Gospels, the Son of Man “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). Here the vicarious death is put as the “life-purpose” of Jesus. Such an utterance must, of course, be pushed aside by the modern liberal Church.

The truth is that the life-purpose of Jesus discovered by modern liberalism is not the life-purpose of the real Jesus, but merely represents those elements in the teaching of Jesus—isolated and misinterpreted—which happen to agree with the modern program. It is not Jesus, then, who is the real authority, but the modern principle by which the selection within Jesus’ recorded teaching has been made. Certain isolated ethical principles of the Sermon on the Mount are accepted, not at all because they are teachings of Jesus, but because they agree with modern ideas.

It is not true at all, then, that modern liberalism is based upon the authority of Jesus. It is obliged to reject a vast deal that is absolutely essential in Jesus’ example and teaching—notably His consciousness of being the heavenly Messiah. The real authority, for liberalism, can only be “the Christian consciousness” or “Christian experience.” But how shall the findings of the Christian consciousness be established? Surely not by a majority vote of the organized Church. Such a method would obviously do away with all liberty of conscience. The only authority, then, can be individual experience; truth can only be that which “helps” the individual man. Such an authority is obviously no authority at all; for individual experience is endlessly diverse, and when once truth is regarded only as that which works at any particular time, it ceases to be truth. The result is an abysmal skepticism.

The Christian man, on the other hand, finds in the Bible the very Word of God. Let it not be said that dependence upon a book is a dead or an artificial thing. The Reformation of the sixteenth century was founded upon the authority of the Bible, yet it set the world aflame. Dependence upon a word of man would be slavish, but dependence upon God’s word is life. Dark and gloomy would be the world, if we were left to our own devices, and had no blessed Word of God. The Bible, to the Christian, is not a burdensome law, but the very Magna Charta of Christian liberty.

It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism, on the other hand, is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923), 64-66. (FREE HERE)

(PRINCE ON PREACHING)

EVANGELICAL DARK-WEB

The Evangelical Dark Web exposes Andy Stanley’s heretical worldview. Andy Stanley is a pastor at one of America’s largest megachurches 5th according to Wikipedia, #1 according to Outreach. His influence on the evangelical church is perhaps second to none. As a result many, Christians and churches are influenced by his teachings. This video is intended to be a concise way to show fellow believers that Andy Stanley is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

UNBELIEVABLE

[Editor’s note: I think the main issue is shown well at the 1hr-2-min and 25 second mark] Don’t miss this very special event! Tell the world! Andy Stanley and Jeff Durbin spend time discussing Andy’s book, “Irresistable”. They have a radio debate on the “Unbelievable Radio” program with Justin Brierley. Andy has claimed that we should “unhitch” the Old Testament from the New Testament. He claims that we the Old Testament Law (like the 10-commandments) is not binding upon Christians, today. In this radio show, Andy and Jeff discuss apologetic methodology (how to defend the faith) and whether or not the Law of God in the Old Testament is relevant for Christians, today.

FIGHTING FOR THE FAITH

Andy Stanley Denies the 10 Commandments (and the Old Testament)

 

Good Humor Chooses Black Nationalism Over Racism (Wait, What?)

This was a 2nd portion of another post, but with the latest news regarding the well-known ice-cream truck JINGLE being rewritten — I have to break off that smaller portion and expand on it. So let’s deal with the origins of the song first, and then work towards the newer issues as I see them.

ORIGINAL POST

The song “Turkey In The Straw” came out in the late 1820’s to early 1830’s. The first part of the song is a contrafactum of the ballad “My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green”, aka “My Grandma Lived on Yonder Little Green”, aka “My Grandma’s Advice”, published in 1857 by Horace Waters, 333 Broadway, New York, which itself is a contrafactum of the Irish ballad “The Old Rose Tree”.(WIKI) The original song was just a favorite tune of fiddle players, it was only started to be used in mistral shows in the early 1900’s. A Democrat changed the song to a racist tune in 1916. I say Democrat because Harry C. Browne had a brief career campaigning for the Democratic Party. In fact, William Jennings Bryan, then the Secretary of State, offered Browne a diplomatic position in February 1914, Brown later declined.(WIKI) As the old saying goes, anything the Left touches it ruins.

Harry C. Browne was born in 1878 in North Adams, Massachusetts. Before his acting career, he served in the Second Massachusetts U.S. Volunteers during the Spanish–American War and had a brief career campaigning for the Democratic Party. In fact, William Jennings Bryan, then the Secretary of State, offered Browne a diplomatic position in February 1914 but the latter declined. Browne later worked for a stock company as an actor, casting him in plays such as Arizona and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm in the early 1900s.

A skilled banjo player, Browne performed in vaudeville for seven years before recording a series of songs for Columbia Records, starting in 1916. His first record, perhaps his most well-known, is a re-interpretation of the American folk song “Turkey in the Straw”. Released in March 1916, Browne appropriated the standard as a coon song re-titled “Nigger Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!”. It is commonly referred to as one of the most racist songs in American music: the song relied heavily on the watermelon stereotype, a belief popularized in the 19th century that African-Americans had an unusual appetite for watermelons. For the B-side, Browne chose to record the minstrel show favorite “Old Dan Tucker”, marking the tune’s first commercial appearance on a major label.

Between 1906 and 1925, Browne appeared in at least 14 Broadway shows, including Oh, Lady! Lady!!. His film debut is believed to have been in August 1914 with the release of The Eagle’s Mate. During his acting career, Browne had roles in notable films such as The Unwelcome Mrs. Hatch, The Heart of Jennifer, and Closed Doors. Afterwards, he worked as an announcer and production director for CBS radio, a position he resigned from in 1931.

(WIKI)

PART TWO


Enter, Good Humor

Ice-Cream & RZA


Enter RZA (via GOOD HUMOR) from Wu-Tang Clan. Here is RZA explaining the issue:

Here is a bit more THE NEW YORK POST:

Get ready to scream for ice cream — with a brand-new song.

RZA, of the Wu-Tang Clan, has partnered with Good Humor to write a cheerful new ice cream truck jingle in place of “Turkey in the Straw” — an earworm with a troubled history long criticized for being racist.

“Remember that ice cream jingle?” the rap legend, 51, said while introducing his new song. “Of course — we all know it. I’m not gonna play it right now because we come to find out that it has racist roots.

“But check this out — Good Humor, they called me up and they was like, ‘We gotta do something about this, Riz. We can change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era,’ ” the rapper added…..

(See also FOX NEWS‘ story) But I have been writing about this issue for a long time, and, I can confidently say this was a horrible mistake by Good Humor. My first post dealt with the racist emblem Jay-Z wore to an NBA game.

So a small blurb that is a good one-paragraph read on who the founder of the Five-Percenters (the Nation of Gods and Earths):

  • As a member of the Nation of Islam, Clarence 13X was an avid student of Malcolm X and NOI literature and lessons. He also became a member of the Fruit of Islam. In 1963, Clarence 13X began teaching his NOI students that the Black man (collectively) was the “Original Man” and “God,” and he “rejected” the Nation of Islam’s doctrine that its light-skinned founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad, was Allah. Between 1963–1964 Clarence 13X left the Nation of Islam, renamed himself Allah, and founded what is known as the Five-Percent Nation or Nation of Gods and Earths. Five Percenters called him “The Father” because “many of them were the products of broken homes and this was the only father they knew.” Thus, Clarence 13 also became known as Allah the Father or Father Allah. (WIKI)

ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA also adds to the understanding a bit:

….Clarence expanded or altered many of the original views of the Nation of Islam in developing the doctrine of the Five Percent Nation. He taught that the doctrine of God as black meant that all black men are God, or Allah. The movement derived its name from a second doctrine that separates all people into three categories. Most people, 85 percent of humanity, were believed to be ignorant of God’s true identity and thus to be unknowingly working to destroy themselves and others, being misled by the 10 percent of humanity who possess knowledge and power but who falsely teach that God is an invisible supernatural entity. Only 5 percent of humanity is made up of righteous people who understand the truth—that the living God is the black man who teaches freedom and justice to black communities.

Clarence also referred to his movement as the Nation of Gods and Earths, a name based on his belief that black men are Gods and black women are queens, or Earths. Within the movement itself, only new members refer to themselves as Five Percenters. Once a black man has realized his own divine nature, he becomes Allah, a God, and a black woman becomes an Earth. Within Clarence’s ideology, men can obtain the divine perfection of the number 7, while women can only rise to the number 6. Therefore, only women in the Five Percent Nation consider themselves Muslims and follow Allah; the men are Allah incarnate…..

This is a good short explanation of the main “gist” of culture and the Five-Percenters as well:

Born Justice Allah, who became a part of the Five Percent Nation when he was 15, explains some of the basic concepts of the Five Percent Nation and questions Jay Z’s affiliation.


A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE


In this broadcast of Giving An Answer, H.C. Felder interviews Stacey Jacobs who talks about the origins and beliefs of The Five Percent Nation and how they differ from Christianity.

Reflections from My Local Bucks (Coffee, Books, and Father Figures)

Freud took this psychological argument and made it a very popular and influential one. He didn’t argue the truth value of the belief; he just argued that you couldn’t trust most thoroughly in a short book, The Future of an Illusion. Of course, the illusion was religion. He didn’t consider religion true or false, he just considered it a psychological illusion that arose from our primitive needs for protection. Our basic infantile unconscious desires a father who would look after us and to satisfy these needs we create the illusion of God.

Freud claimed that one of the oldest psychological needs of the human race is that for a loving, protecting, all-powerful father, or divine providence.

Paul Vitz, Paul Copan and Charles Taliaferro [editors], The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality (New York, NY: Lexington Books, 2019), p.177.

(See my previous excerpt from this book, HERE)

??????’? ????: This is true regarding secularism more so than religious belief… although it runs through all mankind in general. C.S. Lewis noted that “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction of those desires exist…”. This particular desire is one that cannot be fulfilled in total, or completeness in this realm. We look towards the finish line in heavenly hope…. what Blaise Pascal in his Pensees (10.148) mentions as a “God shaped vacuum or void”:

  • What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.

A friend noted the following:
  • In Healing the Masculine Soul: God’s Restoration of Men to Real Manhood, by Gordon Dalbey, the author speaks of Christ addressing the disciples’ father hunger.

When secularism tries to fill this void, we often end up with death on a grand scale. Take for instance Stalin, who, was often referred to as “Papa.” Here is one recollection fitting the Freudian narrative of the human need for “loving, protecting, all-powerful father, or divine providence” – the State is the “all-powerful aspect” here:

My first impressions of Stalin came when I was little. I listened to stories my Dad told of his life. They were always short, just a few compressed sentences, and never judgmental. Never did he say a word against the Soviet rule. Many times, when he mentioned Stalin, he called him otéts rodnói (“caring father”). And every time, a steely caustic smile flashed on his face.

Now, pushing 60, I know smiles. I’m sure my Dad would have put a bullet between his eyes if he had a smallest chance.

The poster below says: “Hail our teacher, our father, our leader Comrade Stalin!”

Similar stories are told of Mao, Lenin, Pol-Pot, and the like. Persons seeking power by manipulation take advantage of this void. (Likewise, a political Party’s – or jaundiced religions overly promising health and wealth Think of the televangelist TBN types or Buddhist/new age offerings expecting wealth in return. Alternatively, those promising “universal” health care and student loans paid as well as housing. Etc)

We often refer to this “need” in varying ways, like: “she is looking for a father figure” to describe the emotionally harmed woman/girl from a broken home. We all suffer from a distorted need[s] that in our fallen nature we imperfectly try to fill on our own (male or female).

God, fellowship with his Word, and the Christian worldview — as well as relationships in His Body are the best prescribed medicines to begin to fill this void well, only having it complete when we see how He sees us (reunion in Heaven).

Just some thoughts via my local Bucks’ coffee, and reading contemplatively.

What Is “Liberal” or “Progressive” Christianity?

A friend asked the following: “Question… Can you tell me what Liberal Christian means. In short form so Lisa can understand….” The Gospel Coalition defines it thus:

  • Liberal theology is rooted in modern, secular theories of knowledge and has moved towards participation in the work of the church as the priority for Christians at the expense of delineating theological belief, which has led to the abandonment of many orthodox beliefs in many mainline denominations.

Likewise, a friend noted, “I understand liberal theology as subscribing to the Enlightenment presuppositions concerning naturalism. Thus, liberal theology is skeptical concerning supernaturalism. Like Occam, they look for a logical/natural explanation for everything, including the 10 plagues of Egypt, the virgin birth, and the resurrection.”

But this seemingly short definition is followed by a larger article discussing it’s origins. The enlightenment and the differing forms it took were also heavily influential on liberalism both in religious and political reals, as well as “critical theory” stressed by Jacques Derrida:

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architectural theory, and in political theory. Indeed, Derrida’s fame nearly reached the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and televisions programs devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his thinking. Beside critique, Derridean deconstruction consists in an attempt to re-conceive the difference that divides self-consciousnes (the difference of the “of” in consciousness of oneself). But even more than the re-conception of difference, and perhaps more importantly, deconstruction attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve.

(STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY)

What follows below will travel between the theological aspects of liberalism, as well as the attacks on our Founding documents (political).

Ravi Zacharias does a decent job in showing the basics of liberalism in it’s “questioning” aspect, and that this has been around a long time — that is — the postmodern tendency:

(I deal with the postmodernism of the church and the Emergent Church in my chapter, “Emergen[t]Cy – Investigating Post Modernism In Evangelical Thought“)

The following quotes by the author who put a warning shot across the bow of the modern “liberal” attack of the church… J. Gresham Machen. However, these quotes can in some sense be applied to the Constitution as well (more on this in a bit).

  • The chief modern rival of Christianity is “liberalism.” An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition.
  • Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity–liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.
  • It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.
  • The movement designated as “liberalism” is regarded as “liberal” only by its friends; to its opponents it seems to involve a narrow ignoring of many relevant facts.
  • According to the Christian conception, a creed is not a mere expression of Christian experience, but on the contrary it is a setting forth of those facts upon which experience is based.
  • But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.
  • Faith is essentially dogmatic. Despite all you can do, you cannot remove the element of intellectual assent from it.

So here is a “Basic” rundown… but a good definition comes from IMPACT 360 INSTITUTE (a long article):

Theology matters because beliefs are connected with behavior. In addition to this fact, one’s theology also reveals the true source of authority serving as the ultimate foundation. Am I going to be faithful to Scripture or conform to what is culturally comfortable? A recent example of this is the book, Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, which is #1 on Amazon’s “Christian self-help” category and currently #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. It is written from a loosely Christian perspective, utilizes Scripture, and speaks about God, faith, Christianity, and morality. It also teaches that you can find God within yourself, promotes moral relativism, teaches that sexuality and gender are fluid, and blames the Bible for creating a culture that oppresses women.

Blogger, speaker and apologist Alisa Childers (author of the IMPACT 360 article [linked] above) talks to us about a dangerous form of Christianity invading our churches.  (Alicia has a YouTube Channel HERE)

Liberal Christianity does not mean a “politically leftist form” of the Christian Faith. Although, the same “sickness” applies that lead to similar outcomes, whether in religious beliefs or political beliefs.

That is, true conservatives conserve ideas born from natural rights, as immutable and objective —  written in stone so-to-speak… the liberal progressive sees things not “in situ” (situated in the original, natural, or existing place or position) but in flux.

Changing in that, modern definitions and understandings supersede the previous outdated ideas and definitions as applied by those earlier thinkers. Dennis Prager talks about a popular saying when he was going to college in the 60’s/70’s, it was,  “don’t trust anyone over 35 [years old].”

What do I mean about the same sickness?

Here is a must read (a bit long) for the avid fan of Dr. Norman Geisler who enumerates the founding “in situ” nature of the political conservationist. He deals with our countries Founding ideas:

THE CONSERVATIVE AGENDA: ITS BASIS AND ITS BASICS

The Conservative Agenda:

Its Basis and Its Basics

by Norman L. Geisler

Take for instance Joe Biden’s saying that he won’t be “satisfied” until half of the U.S. Supreme Court is filled with women who hold a “living document” view of the Constitution. To wit, a poll taken by C-SPAN a few years back notes “that 48 percent of voters overall agree that ‘the Constitution is a living document which should evolve to recognize ‘new rights’ and changing circumstances.’ That includes 80 percent of liberals and 66 percent of Democrats — but only 22 percent of conservatives and 26 percent of Republicans. Another 42 percent of voters overall say that the Constitution “should be interpreted according to its original words and meaning.” The survey found that 15 percent of liberals and 23 percent of Democrats agree with this, compared to 68 percent of conservatives and 64 percent of Republicans.”

To read the Constitution through an originalist framework means we seek to interpret and apply it in the way people understood it at the time of ratification. Human nature was no different or advanced then as now. In other words, we look at what supporters said each provision meant as they were “selling” the Constitution to the people and trying to overcome intense opposition to ratification. The assertions of supporters served as the basis upon which the ratifiers – the elected representatives of the people – agreed to adopt the Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is essentially a contract forming a union of states. In any contract, provisions have a fixed meaning. [One author notes that The U.S. Constitution is a Contract, Not a Rule Book] When you sign on the dotted line, you expect them to remain constant over time. When disputes arise, you always attempt to ascertain what the parties believed they were agreeing to. The ratifiers acted with this expectation.

James Wilson was a Pennsylvania lawyer and politician. He was a key member of the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the Constitution, and one of its most influential supporters during the ratification process. His State House Yard Speech laid the foundation for the ratification effort. In 1790 and 1791, Wilson delivered a series of lectures titled Of the Study of Law in the United States. In one of these lectures, he asserted this was the proper way to interpret legal documents.

✦ “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”

Think about it. Would you sign a living, breathing mortgage? Would you enter into a living, breathing employment contract? Would you sign a living, breathing agreement with a builder to build an addition on your house?

Of course not! Because you would have no idea what that contract really means. And you certainly wouldn’t agree that the other party to the contract gets to decide how it will be interpreted.

[….]

Progressives want a living, breathing Constitution because they want to mold society into their own image. They crave power. Originalism constrains power. And despite their lip-service to constitutional fidelity, conservatives want the same thing – power.

But the rule of law requires consistency. Otherwise, government becomes arbitrary. When the limits on government power become subject to reinterpretation by the government itself, it becomes limitless in power and authority…..

(TENTH AMENDMENT SOCIETY)

The same with Christianity, and how “leftist” progressive Christians see Christianity (even if they do not word as well):

  1. True religion is not based on external authority….
  2. Christianity is a movement of social reconstruction….
  3. Christianity must be credible and relevant….
  4. Truth can be know only through changing symbols and forms….
  5. Theological controversy is about language, not about truth….
  6. The historical accuracies of biblical facts and events are not crucial, so long as we meet Jesus in the pages of Scripture….
  7. The true religion is the way of Christ, not any particular doctrines about Christ….

(THE GOSPEL COALITION)

Here is another excellent article entitled “5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity

  1. There is a lowered view of the Bible….
  2. Feelings are emphasized over facts….
  3. Essential Christian doctrines are open for re-interpretation….
  4. Historic terms are re-defined….
  5. The heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice.

LONG PRESENTATIONS:

We are living in a day when liberal theology has made deep inroads in the church. Many professing Christians and even ordained ministers no longer believe in the authority of Scripture or the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How can people deny these essential doctrines and still call themselves Christians? In this message, Dr. Sproul explains that liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is nothing more than unbelief.

In this in-person interview, I sit down with Alisa Childers to discuss “Progressive Christianity.” Is this new movement dangerous to Christianity?

What was the infectious inroad into Democrats thinking about the Constitution being alive and breathing? Darwinism and his evolutionary view of biology, via Woodrow Wilson’s impact on progressivism. This is a large excerpt from Gary Demar’s article, Charles Darwin, Woodrow Wilson, And The Evolving Constitution


APPENDIX


“In Wilson’s book, Constitutional Government (1908), he came out in favor of implementing a Darwinian view of evolution to civil government.

Constitutional Government praised the presidency as the central political office: head of the party. This was a self-conscious break from the Constitution’s view of the office. The Constitution does not mention political parties, and the Framers had hated political factions in 1787. Wilson, having switched to Progressivism, had to undermine this older political faith. He turned to Darwin as the solution.

“The framers had been Whigs because they had been Newtonians, he correctly argued. This Newtonian Whig worldview is incorrect, he insisted, and so is the Constitutional order that assumes it. ‘The government of the United States was constructed upon the Whig theory of political dynamics, which was a sort of unconscious copy of the Newtonian theory of the universe. In our own day, whenever we discuss the structure or development of anything, whether in nature or in society, we consciously or unconsciously follow Mr. Darwin; but before Mr. Darwin, they followed Newton.

Some single law, like the law of gravitation, swung each system of thought and gave it its principle of unity’ (pp. 54-55). The checks and balances built into the Federal government by the Constitution are now a hindrance to effective political action, he said. This language of balances reflects mechanism. We need to overcome this mechanical way of thinking, Wilson wrote.

“The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day of specialization, but with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without leadership or without the intimate, almost instinctive, coordination of the organs of life and action” (pp. 56-57).

Does any of this sound familiar? The Constitution is a “living, evolving document” to be directed in its evolutionary development by leaders who believe that government is the divine force for change.

So the next time you hear someone talk about how the Constitution is a living document, think of Woodrow Wilson, but more specifically, think of Charles Darwin.

The Naturalistic Origin Of Life (RNA World Critiqued)

The Origin of Life, two world views, Darwinian evolution theory vs Biblical Creation.

The RNA World Hypothesis is presented in the first half of this video from Dr. Pierre Durand, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. PhD student Nisha Dhar Quote (Via TImes Live):

  • ‘RNA molecules were the first molecules which could have given rise to life.’
  • ‘This event is believed to have taken place possibly 4 billion years ago, at a time when a young earth was a hostile place with a volcanic activity and an atmosphere that had yet to contain oxygen. RNA, said Durand, was hardy and would have survived these kinds of conditions.’

Presenting the Biblical Creation science explanation for the origin of life, Dr. James M. Tour (PhD., T. T., and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry Professor of Computer Science Professor of Materials Science and Nano Engineering — Rice University. Smalley-Curl Institute and the NanoCarbon Center.)

APOLOGETIC PRESS notes this of the RNA World Hypothesis:

  • [Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. auxiliary staff scientist Will Brooks and one of his students. Dr. Brooks holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and serves as Assistant Professor of Biology at Freed-Hardeman University.]

….Evolutionists would have us to believe that non-living elements and molecules joined together and developed increasing biological capabilities. Those who believe in intelligent design reject this hypothesis, insisting that neither RNA nor living cells are able to evolve spontaneously. While some disagreement exists among those in the evolutionary community on the time frame for such alleged reactions to occur, the consensus is that, given large amounts of time, single-celled bacteria were formed. But all known biological principles militate against this notion. Even billions of years could not provide mechanisms for the reaction products to evolve advantageous characteristics and form DNA and cell proteins, let alone create strings of RNA nucleotides, arriving at just the right sequence in order to code for a functional protein. The four nucleotide bases that form RNA (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil) can be arranged in an exponential array of combinations and lengths. For an actual, functional protein to be coded, a precise sequence of nucleotides must be obtained. Forming the code for even one protein by evolutionary means is impossible, without even considering the necessity of the number that work together in a single cell.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that RNA is spontaneously being created and capable of forming pre-cellular life today. While some artificial ribozymes have been created in the laboratory (reviewed in Chen, et al., 2007), there are still significant holes in reproducing an RNA world to support the hypothesis. The ribozymes created artificially lack the abilities to sufficiently process themselves, and there is no evidence of them producing large quantities of advantageous nucleotide sequences. Moreover, no system has ever created cellular life. There is even significant debate among scientists over the conditions and constituents of a “prebiotic Earth” model.

The RNA World Hypothesis is simply another attempt by scientists to explain the origin of life to the exclusion of the divine Creator. Given the absolute impossibility of life originating from the reactions of non-living matter, it can be justified that RNA did not predate other biological molecules. All biological molecules were created together to work in concert. RNA was designed to be the essential intermediate between DNA and proteins, making our cells capable of sustaining life as it was created. The designer of this system must be the intelligent Designer, the God of the Bible.

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Geisler Speaks About (Atheist) Antony Flew’s Conversion

(First Posted June 2011)

This is an old podcast of Dr. Norman Geisler discussing ex-atheist Antony Flew’s book that detailed his leaving atheism. Here is a “Flewism”

  • “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.” After chewing on his scientific worldview for more than five decades, Flew concluded, “A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” Previously, in his central work, The Presumption of Atheism (1976), Flew argued that the “onus of proof [of God] must lie upon the theist.” However, at the age of 81, Flew shocked the world when he renounced his atheism because “the argument for Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” (See my DNA post: RNA/DNA = Information | Or, What “IS” Information)

Flew’s God was: immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, omniscient, whole [one, or indivisible, perfectly good and necessary exists.