Apologetics

RACE: The Power of an Illusion

Race_power_of_an_illusion_2"Race: The Power of an Illusion" was the name of three part series on PBS, produced by California Newsreel in 2003.  The premise, and what they do a decent job proving it, is to show that there is no biological basis for race, but rather race is a social construct. People assume that because there are visible differences between people that there are huge biological differences, thus dividing us into various "races."  It is simply not true. The Bible alludes to this in the Book of Genesis an dis very specific in the book of Acts where they apostle Paul declares - two thousand years before modern biology - "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Acts 17:26 

The Bible teaches us that all of humanity came from common ancestors, Adam and Eve. Although this concept has been balked at throughout history DNA is beginning to show the common ancestry of all human beings.  1999 news magazines began to publish articles about "Mitochondrial Eve" which represents "that woman whose mitochondrial DNA (with mutations) exists in all the humans now living on Earth."  The implications of both the television research special and contemporary discovers reinforce what we already know form the Bible, that we came from common descendants and all people are created in the image of God.

Human differences come from culture (ethnicity) and not biology. If you needed an organ transplant, it would matter little whether than organ came from someone from Asia, the Middle East, Africa or North America. Human beings are largely the same, except for minor differences in appearance.  Scientists have found that if you take people from anywhere in the world and match them with each other the difference between those two people wold be 0.2%. And the major "visible" differences (skin color, eye shape, hair) amounts to about 6% of the 0.2 percent.  People are people, created in the Image of God!

The concepts of the 'races" as we know it, comes more from the wickedness of the human heart (which always likes to think itself superior to 'somebody' else) and Darwinian evolution and social evolution than from known modern science. Evolution attempted in Darwin's day to show how the far the different "races" were from their original ancestors: apes. This viewpoint has lead to horrible human rights issues and even Hitler attempting to grow a "super-race" purified of all elements he found distasteful.  Moving away form the Bible has its consequences.

God loves all people, although not everybody loves God. This is our mission. To remind people (or tell them for the first time) that they are valuable, made in God's Image and that God loves them and does have a wonderful plan for their life!

The next time you find somebody or a group of people you don't like, remember you are related to them somewhere down the line!  That's probably why Jesus reminded us to love our neighbors as ourselves!

   


Who Would Have Thought Falwell & Larry Flynt Were Friends?

Teletubbie One of the big phrases being thrown around today is "being missional."  What's that mean?  It means that some people believe (rightly so I think) that we need to be engaged in the culture around us and not always on the attack. That We need to befriend people, listen to them, understand them. Who might these folks be?  Cool guys with cool glasses and non-religious speeches? How about Jerry Falwell?  He had a way of being friends with folks that radically disagreed with him. I wish I had known him personally. Someday.  Anyway here's a few quotes from folks that did know him, including Larry Flynt. Jesse Jackson also claimed him as a friend. This is especially interesting considering in the early 60's Falwell was an outspoken segregationist. Wow, can Jesus change people's thinking around? And our friendships!  There is no evidence he ever reconciled with the Tele-tubbies though. Oh well!

Rudy20giulianitto002092 "He was a man who set a direction. He was someone who was not afraid to speak his mind. We all have great respect for him ... he is a person who told you what he thought, and you knew where he stood." — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

.

.

Jesse20jacksoncwp000590_2

"Over the years we became friends; sometimes we had polar opposite points of view. ... I have many fond memories of him. He leaves a great legacy of service and a great university behind. He's left his footprints in the sands of time." — The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

.

.

Billy_graham "Jerry Falwell was a close personal friend for many years. We did not always agree on everything, but I knew him to be a man of God. His accomplishments went beyond most clergy of his generation. Some of my grandchildren have attended and currently attend Liberty University. He leaves a gigantic vacuum in the evangelical world." — Evangelist Billy Graham.

Larry_flynt_2 "My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. ... I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling." — Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt.


The Chocolate Jesus

Chocolate_jesus_1_2 The Roger Smith Lab Gallery in mid-town Manhattan canceled a display they were to have during Holy Week (the days between Palm Sunday and Easter) of a life-sized Jesus made out of chocolate.  Now think this through with me. Don't you think that some part of this whole thing was so that bloggers like me would go nuts and post the link to the Gallery just like I did above? Well... of course!

Why have a chocolate Jesus on display during Jesus week?  Because the canceled showing generated national exposure that's why.

Oh, by the way, the chocolate Jesus isn't the one pictured above.  Somebody else did that quite awhile ago, so the artist doing the chocolate Jesus wasn't even original in his thought. But to be fair, it's hard to have an original thought.  While we're being fair, I think most people would agree it would be a little weird to bite into a chocolate Jesus like the one pictured anyway. I know I wouldn't do it.

Cheese_room1_2 The chocolate Jesus the aforementioned artist produced was really just plain disrespectful. (That's why I don't have a picture of it, nor do I mention his name.)  It got him some press and publicity though. Jesus does that for people, even people that are not following him or respecting Him.  The picture above is piece of work done by the artist.  A bedroom he covered with cheese.  Probably most people aren't planning their weekends around making their way to see that exhibit, so I guess he tried his hand at seeing if Jesus couldn't get him a bit more visibility. These are just guesses mind you, I don't really know. But I do know the name of Jesus is powerful. Even when used for one's own ends.

The Bible tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is Good."  Better than chocolate for the moment and with eternal rewards.  Jesus sure is good!  Using His name can get you some publicity. Loving His Name will bring you more staisfaction than one could ever imagine!


Should We Teach the Bible in Public Schools?

Time_teach_the_bible_cover_3 Yes! According to the editorial staff at Time Magazine. Well, of course they aren't the only ones that  advocate teaching the Bible in public schools, but it's a strong stand for a news weekly.

They also spend some time discussing the idea that the Bible 'needs' to be taught in public school forwarded by Boston University professor Stephen Prothero, the author of "Religious Literacy."  Prothero argues that studying the Bible in public schools "is essential to be a full fledged, well rounded citizen" in the United States.

Here are a few quotes and reasons why the Bible should be taught in the public schools:

* "It is the bedrock of Western Civilization."

* It is constitutional as long as we don't preach it."

* The Bible so pervades western culture, that it is hard to call anyone educated who hasn't at least given thought to its key passages."

* According to Religious Literacy (the book previously quoted) polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to 'all or most of life's basic questions.'"

* "Simply put, the Bible is the most influential book ever written."

* "Not only is the Bible the best selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year."

* The article makes the point that it is more important to study the Bible than to study Shakespeare, since Shakespeare alludes to scripture over 1,300 times. How can you understand Shakespeare if you don't know the Bible?

* Martin Luther King's "I Have Dream" speech (which you can listen to in full on this blog) was consciously enlisting the Old Testament prophet Amos.

* The Bible provided the underpinnings of the women's rights and prison reform movements in America.

Hundreds of school systems across the nation are beginning to teach the Bible in public high schools.  For those that have created curriculum used across the country see the following links

- The Bible and It's Influence

- The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools

- "The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide"

- As soon as I finished this post I saw this article about Texas trying to get eh Bible taught in the schools there. Check it out and do teh same in yor school system.

Call your school boards and get the Bible in your school system. Why should we be the last to jump on an increasing national trend? Besides the Bible rocks!


The 2007 Easter Controversies

During the seasons of Christmas and Easter (Easter more than Christmas) Jesus becomes a commodity. A way to sell advertising, magazines, drive people to television programs (which sell advertising) and even a way to drive people to art galleries, as we see this year with the display of "The Chocolate Jesus" (which has now been canceled. But Jesus is a powerful name and even with the cancellation the gallery and the sculptor as more well known than ever. Jesus can do a LOT of people and even galleries. Even when they aren't promoting the historical Jesus or the Savior.

Here's the ones I'm following and will have some remarks to make daily during "Holy Week" -as they call it- the week preceding Easter daily here on the blog.  Check everyday for a new article that you can talk about at work, with friends and family and to build you up in the faith that cannot be refuted! Or stopped!  Jesus rules! Still!

Time_teach_the_bible_cover 1) Time Magazine's cover article "Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School (But very, very carefully)"

.

.

.

.

.

Chocolate_jesus_1 2) The Chocolate Jesus.  Hey let's face it, Jesus IS good. Way better than chocolate! Some artist, sculpted a life size, anatonomically correct Jesus out of choclate (not the one to the left, so the artist isn't even original) and was to display it at a mid-town mManhaattan gallery daily during "Holy Week."  Thankfully it isn't happening.

.

3) Anderson Cooper's "What is a Christian?"  What_is_a_christian_anderson_coop_2 I don't like CNN that much, but I tend to like the Anderson Cooper specials, so we'll see.  Wednesday and Thursday night @ 10:00. At least he's smart enough to not try and go up against "American Idol."

.

Gods_approval_ratings_newsweek_ap_3

4) God's Approval Rating covered this week in Newsweek Magazine / MSNBC.  Believe me, God isn't sitting in heaven biting his fingernails hoping more people will vote for Him and believe in Him. But Americans are incurably religious. There is still hope for us as a nation!

.

Christp 5) "What's So Special About Jesus?"  will be the title of Easter Service. I'll post a trifold towards the end of the week that will be suitable to give to friends and family.                                       


Yawn! --- Finding the Tomb of Jesus?

Jesustomb2r_468x302_1 With Easter season upon us, we can expect the regular yearly articles about Jesus, the Bible and the Resurrection in the newspapers, the news weeklies and on television specials. The Discovery Channel plans on airing an investigation into whether they have now found the tomb of Jesus. -- More yawns! ---

The Good News is that Jesus is still attractive. 2,000 years later and people are still interested in Him. Of course! His is the only name by which people can be saved and there is a spot in the heart of every person that longs for Jesus. The real Jesus that is. But did they find the tomb of Jesus? OK, let's take a look!

Here are the facts on the ground:

* The documentary is produced by Oscar winner James Cameron, who is best known for his work on "Titanic" (the highest grossing film of all time.) Cameron was the one that conceived the "Terminator" series, which grew out of a dream he had of a machine that came from the future and out of fire to kill him.

* In his production, "The Lost Tomb of Christ" he draws attention to ten ancient caskets that were discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980. What?!?! 1980?!?? These things have been around since 1980?  Why hasn't anybody picked up on this before now?

* The BBC aired a documentary on the story and the supposed Jesus connection in 1996. The whole thing is old news and hasn't received any widespread support in any of the archaeological or academic communities. It's simply good controversy and it makes for exciting documentaries.

* Bar-Ilan University Prof. Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem District archaeologist who officially oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980 and has published detailed findings on its contents, on Saturday night dismissed the claims. "It makes a great story for a TV film," he told The Jerusalem Post. "But it's impossible. It's nonsense."

"There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb," Kloner said. "They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE."

Fox News quoted Kloner as saying, "They just want to get money for it."

* Academic Stephen Pfann, a scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he did not expect Christians to accept the film's findings.  "I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," said Mr Pfann, who was interviewed by the film-makers. "But sceptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

* Some Jerusalem residents are very excited about the find. "It will mean our house prices will go up because Christians will want to live here," one woman said.

* The Jerusalem Post reports, "The film also suggests that the so-called "James, Brother of Jesus" ossuary, which surfaced in 2002 in the collection of Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan, may also have come from the tomb. The "James" ossuary made world headlines, but has been branded a forgery by the Israel Antiquities Authority..."

* Jerusalem-based biblical anthropologist Joe Zias goes a step further to discredit Cameron's documentary. "What they've done here," Zias said, "is they've simply tried in a very, very dishonest way to try to con the public into believing that this is the tomb of Jesus or Jesus' family. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus."

* According to the filmmaker "the tomb of Jesus" may have come from the same tomb as the now famous "James Ossuary Hoax" which turned out to be a fraud ending in the arrests of five individuals trying to pull off an archaeological hoax in order to make money.

An AP Report tells us, "Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that the James Ossuary _ the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel _ might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box."

* Darrell Bock, a professor at Dallas Seminary, whom the Discovery Channel had vet the film two weeks ago, adds another objection: why would Jesus's family or followers bury his bones in a family plot and "then turn around and preach that he had been physically raised from the dead?" If that objection smacks secular readers as relying too heavily on scripture, then Bock's larger point is still trenchant: "I told them that there were too many assumptions being claimed as discoveries, and that they were trying to connect dots that didn't belong together."

Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon. Time Magazine, CNN, FOX, the BBC. It's interesting that none of the major media outlets are really buying the story.

As we approach the Passover and Easter season, we're reminded again that Jesus did rise from the dead, a fact attested to in history. Many have tried to disprove it, undermine it or minimize. Yet the risen Jesus continues to change lives and save souls!

Finding the tomb? Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus WAS laid in a tomb. The Good News is He didn't stay there, but was raised in three days, never to die again. He tasted death for us, so that we could experience eternal life through Him.

For anyone really interested in the tomb of Jesus, read this paper by Dr William Lane Craig.  Jesus was laid in a tomb, but now He is gone.

My prayer is that James Cameron DOES find Jesus! What a joy that would be for him!

UPDATE: Scholars interviewed on teh special backtrack and no longer believe thie own claims.  Link Here: ____________

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE as a trifold for friends, family and co-workers here: 

Download because_you_asked_the_tomb_of_Jesus.pdf


Valentines: The Other Christian Holiday

RoseMost people think of Valentines as the Love Holiday. I know I got married the week of Valentines, and am still married to my Valentine.  Other's think of it as the big day to send cards. Estimates are that 1 billion cards will be sent on Valentines Day this year, making Valentines the second biggest card sending holiday in America, Christmas being the first.  Florists, of course, love Valentines Day.  It's a huge chocolate day, although nobody has given me any yet today.  I'll keep waiting. For others, it's just a big bummer because they are single, divorced, widowed or somehow otherwise left out of the chocolate giving and receiving.  Hey, if Jesus, Paul or Jesus' mother Mary were around today they probably wouldn't have been giving or receiving chocolate either. But their value was based on who they were before God, not on whether their chocolate came from Godiva or Lindt Swiss. Actually Valentines is a Christian holiday, so everybody needs to get over it!

It was Saint Valentin, who was martyred for his faith that all of the traditions of Valentines seem to point back to.  One of the many stories about how our modern traditions grew out of these martyrdom's is that on the night before he was martyred Valentin sent out his last love note that simply said, "From Your Valetin."  Who knows?

The first reference we have to Valentines, the way we look at it today, comes from Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400), the author of the Canterbury Tales. One of his poems talks of two lovebirds and Valentines Day.

So who really knows?  What we do know is that Christians are still martyred today. To read about that click here.

Regardless of all of the origins, it's always good to appreciate those you love and to show it in some tangible ways.  I'm sure the best way to express love is to just be nice, but some expressions in other forms can't hurt either!

Happy Valentines Day!


Psychic Sylvia Browne is "Dead Wrong"

Sylvia_brown_1I hate the negative approach of putting people down, making fun of them or proving how wrong they are in order to make yourself look right. Most people don't respond well to negative spin, except in some sick or perverse manner. Not that I'm above these base tactics, it's just a cheap shot. There certainly is nothing attractive about putting people down or "putting them in their place" in front of others. Negative people might be attracted to negative reporting, but that doesn't mean every once in a while you shouldn't blow the whistle, expose the lie, or just "say something!"

Sylvia Browne is a phony, is dangerous, does not bring hope to people and must be stopped.  On Saturday, January 27, 5 PM eastern time she will be doing a live presentation of her "Predictions for 2007." Her predictions are more than just parlor games, tricks, fun or educated guesses.  Her predictions are sorely wrong, hurtful and dangerous to people looking for hope. She ought to be banned or at least boycotted on a large scale. SHE IS DANGEROUS TO THE EMOTIONAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH OF PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.  Stay away from her!!!

Consider how hurtful these "predictions," "psychic vibrations," and "pronouncements" are. (Click the underlined links to read the stories.)

* She told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck (the boy missing for four years and recently found with another abducted boy) that their son was dead! How creepy is that?!?!  It was on the Montel Williams show that Browne originally told the parents that Shawn's body was near two large boulders in the woods. After telling them he was dead she offered to help find the body for $700 a half hour. Her response to authorities after finding the boy was that she is right enough times for it to not make difference. Right, Unless, you're the family! Not to mention she told a national television audience he was dead! Watch here for some discussion on Fox News about Sylvia's wrong assertion that the boy was dead.

* Based on a "strong psychic feeling" she convinced people to give her money to invest in a mining operation. One young couple gave her $20,000 and rather than invest it in mining, she invested it in her own "Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research." She was indicted on grand larceny charges. She plead "No Contest."  She said she failed because her psychic abilities don't work for herself. Well, they didn't work for the young couple either!  Here's an article titled, "Sylvia Browne Failed to See Her Own Criminal Conviction"

* She predicted a cure for breast cancer by the end of 1999

* Watch here as she tells parents their daughter was shot.  The parents tell her, "No," the girl just collapsed in her bedroom.  This stuff is utter foolishness.

* She stated the Sago Miners were all alive and then changed that after the news came out that they were all dead.

* In 1999 she told a grandmother that her abducted six year old granddaughter was not dead, but had been sold into slavery and was in Japan.  Later that year a convicted sex offender was charged with her death and her body was found 13 miles from the home.

* She predicted the troops would be home from Iraq in 2004 and then in 2005 and then in 2006.  How awful to hold out false hope like this to families that have loved ones in the line of fire day after day.

* She is also the founder of her own church.

* For the stupidest thing you'll ever see in your life, watch how Sylvia Brown on Montel Williams tells a girl that lost her firefighter boyfriend on September 11th that he died from drowning, "just like that girl in Aruba."

The Bible tells us to beware of false prophets and prophets whose prophecies don't come true.  Beware of Sylvia Browne, she did not bring any comfort to the families involved in the stories mentioned.  Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice."  Listen to Him. He will never leave or forsake you!  And he certainly won't sell you bad information!

(the picture of Sylvia Browne is taken from her website.) 


Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?

Who_do_men_say_i_am_1Jesus. That's one pretty powerful Name! Which explains why so many have used the name to promote themselves, their agendas and their weird ideas to a hungry and desperate public. Some have even claimed to be Jesus!  The most recent claim being Jose Luis Jesus Miranda, who preaches from a warehouse in Florida.

JesusThrough his numerous interviews he has given we can begin to piece together his beliefs and his history.  Jose is 60 years old and born in Puerto Rico.  He says he used to be an evangelical.'  Prior to becoming an evangelical he was a heroin addict. The way the story goes is that he previously ministered in a drug rehabilitation ministry in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  After some years of ministry he began to be disillusioned with the church.  In his more desperate moments he claims that Jesus Christ came to visit him one night.

When Jesus visited him, he says that Jesus disappeared and Jesus disappeared into him. This was, to him, the second coming of Christ. Jesus was now living in him.  By his own testimony he was a bit slow figuring out what happened at that moment and used to consider that he was the apostle Paul. But after growing some, he finally came to realize in 2,000 - the year he says many were waiting for and looking for Jesus to return - that he was Jesus returned.

One of the "proofs" Jose Luis Jesus Miranda gives that he is Jesus is that he does no signs and wonders. Since the Bible says that false Christs and prophets will perform signs to deceive, Miranda claims that he does no signs and wonders as a 'proof' that he is in fact Jesus Christ.

You know what?  Yawn!

There is only one Jesus who is 'the way the truth and the life' and it is not Jose Luis Jesus Miranda!


New England: An Evangelical Dead Zone

Evangelicals_in_america_3    CONNECTICUT: "THE" EVANGELICAL DEAD ZONE

First let me say I don't like the term "evangelical."  I never use it for myself, and I don't recall anybody ever using it when referring to me. It has been used to marginalize and define people for political and / or popular media purposes.  Yet, the word is out there and is both descriptive and misused, so if you can't beat them, we'll join them for the sake of this conversation. An Evangelical is basically defined by two things: (1) They had a point in their life where they had a conversion to Jesus Christ, an experience that they can point to. (2) They believe the Bible. Even that second definition is variously defined within the movement.  But it is safe to say "Evangelicals are Bible believing converts to Jesus Christ." It has nothing to do with political associations or social activism.

As such Pat Robertson is certainly an evangelical, as is Jimmy Carter.  Ollie North by definition is an evangelical, as is Bono from U2. (listen to the podcast where he talks about his faith and inspiration.) Jerry Falwell falls into the category, as does Joel Osteen. Deion Sanders, George Foreman and Kathie Lee Gifford all register as evangelicals.  It's a pretty broad category, as the definition is pretty generous. Folks that have come to believe in Jesus and the Bible.  Evangelicals can be found everywhere as they live and work among us.  You won't however find too many in New England and the Northeast, as the Time Magazine map shows.

The Time Magazine map (from the "America turns 300 Million" issue) shows the number of evangelicals per one thousand people. The tan color (double click the map to blow it up) of New England shows less than 100 in 1,000 are evangelicals. People who converted to Jesus and believe the Bible.  George Barna shows similar statistics and has Connecticut at the very bottom of the barrel of evangelical adherents. We are 'dead last' with the lowest number of converts to Jesus in the USA!  Wow!

New England is a bona fide mission field with less than 10% evangelical. We send missionaries to countries with larger Christian populations than that. According to Patrick Johnstone of "Operation World" (who tracks believing populations around the world) countries with larger believing populations than the state of Connecticut include Guatemala with 23%, Nicaragua with 15.1%, Ethiopia with 13% and Zaire with 21%. Don't hear me wrong, we are responsible as New Testament Christians to send our people to fields abroad. But Connecticut is as dark spiritually as many fields we send missionaries to.   Read my friend Bill Lamorey's post about church planting / missions work in Connecticut.

It's not just Connecticut, although we are the worst in the country, but much of the Northeast is in a similar condition.  Here's some more statistics:

* Of the 86 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, those with the lowest proportion of evangelicals were Salt Lake City, Utah; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island.

* Involvement in an adult small group is most prolific in Shreveport, Louisiana. The three areas with the lowest rates of small group participation are Albany (NY), Boston and Providence.

* Adults are most likely to claim they have a responsibility to share their religious beliefs with other people if they live in Birmingham, Alabama. That perspective is least common in Providence and Green Bay.

* Believing that God is “the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules it today” is most common in Tulsa. It is least predominant in Boston and San Francisco.

* One out of every six residents of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington are atheist or agnostic – nearly double the national average. Atheists and agnostics are hardest to locate in Louisiana and Missouri.

There are other areas around the country that have relatively low percentages as well, including parts of southern California. The difference there is the density of the populations. So while the percentages may be low, the numbers are high. Los Angeles County has a small percentage of Evangelicals, but because of population density has millions of them.

I'm not complaining.  But we do have our work cut out for us. It's appropriate for us to maintain a missionary posture and find creative and innovative ways to reach more people with the Good New of the Gospel of Jesus. 

We've definitely got a lot to do, but God is good! Let's roll up our sleeves and let God do His creative and innovative work among us>

Look out Connecticut, here we come!