Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Resurrection of Jesus

Are you a doubting Thomas? Don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
James Cameron (director of the film “Titanic”) and Simcha Jacobovici had announced that they have found the bones of Jesus! At their news conference, they promoted their Discovery Channel special “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” that was televised on March 4th. They also promoted the book by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino entitled The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History released by Harper-Collins.

If you want to see the real evidence of the resurrection of the Jesus of the Bible then you ought to see this blog, Confident Christianity.
painting: Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas

Friday, March 23, 2007

Genesis 1:1-2 and the Gap Theory

The Bible is not a science book but as I have claimed earlier in this blog, where it touches on proven science it is accurate and reliable. None of us know all of the mechanisms God used to create the universe and so believers generally view the creation from three standpoints. Each view makes valid points and each will determine how the creation event in the Bible will be interpreted. It should be remembered that all three are theories and should be acknowledged as such and not used to ostracize or disfellowship other believers. All three view the creation story as recorded in the WHOLE Bible as divinely inspired.
There are several theories of Creationism among Christian believers. The Three Most Common Biblical Creation Models are the “Gap” theory; the second is referred to as the “Age-Day” theory. The third theory is the "Literalist" in which the original universe, including earth were created in six literal days about 6011 years ago (4004 BC).


1. “Gap” or “Reconstruction” Theory. This theory suggests the condition in Genesis 1:2 is the result of a cataclysmic judgment involving the fall of the angels; that there was a primeval creation, complete in itself, in which the Angels were created as well as an inhabited pre-Adamite earth. After an unknown interval of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 there was a rebellion by Lucifer who was cast out onto the earth (Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18) perpetuating a catastrophe creating the conditions of Gen. 1:2. Therefore, the six creative days in the following verses would be the new creation of the earth that had become desolate.
Problem: That death was in the world before Adam sinned.
Solution: Sin (iniquity) was found in Lucifer. (Isaiah 14:16-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19)

At some point (in Genesis 1:2) the Holy Spirit began brooding over the waters covering the earth as God began to create the earth as a home for man and the life we see about us. When Adam disobeyed God and obeyed Lucifer, he forfeited all that God had given him to Lucifer, and that old serpent became ‘god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) over which he has no right (Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:26) and to whom Adam by nature became servant.


2. “Age-Day Theory”

This theory regards the first two verses of Genesis as that of the original creation in its raw state as from nothing, while the remaining part of the chapter is a formation and organization of the matter thus created. Genesis 1:1-2 is merely an introductory statement of fact, with each creative day being an indeterminate period or era of time. This is based on verses like 2 Peter3:8 which equates a thousand years as a day. These “era’s” are the geologic era’s t hat fit into modern scientific theories. How long it was, we do not know but ample space is given to all the requisitions of geology.

Problems:

(1). The Scripture says that each day of the creation week is “an evening and a morning.”

(2). The geologic era’s of science do not correspond to the same order that life appears in the scripture.

(3). Plant life was made before there was sunshine. If the age-day theory is correct then plant life survived an era or at least a thousand years without it.

Solution: none


24 Hour / Six Day Creation Theory (Young Earth Creationism)

This theory says that the entire universe was created by God in 6 equal twenty four hour days about 6,011 years ago according to Ussher's Chronology.

Genesis 1:1-2 is an introductory statement showing the earth at the outset, like a lump of clay that God began to squeeze and form into the earth we live in today. Proponents of this theory often say that it is futile to question creation for God said “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4) and “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)


Problem: The stars & ‘sons of God’ were witness to the creation of the earth. (Job 38:6, 7) How can this be if the stars weren’t created until the fourth day? See other problems.


I believe in both an old and young earth interpretation. God created it from one that was destroyed. This does not conflict with the Bible at all as some have claimed.

(Definitions are derived primarily from Strong's Concordance)

Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
In the beginning…
In the beginning God -- Here the Hebrew word for God is 'el-o-heem' which is a plural form
of; 1) "gods" in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the "supreme God;" occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:—angels, exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), (very) great, judges, mighty.

"In the beginning God created…" Here "created" comes from a Hebrew word pronounced "baw-raw'"

'Baw-raw'' is a primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes):—choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth..." Earth here is the same word as 'earth' which is defined as 'dry land' in verse

Genesis 1:10: "And God called the dry land Earth"



The gap in the creation story is right here, between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 for it says-

Genesis 1:2. “And the earth [**was] without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The words I've italicized are terms used in the Bible to commonly describe the aftermath of divine Judgement, not the creation. To say that this a state of the creative act is to contradict every specific creative act of the God who creates all things orderly and whom Isaiah says clearly (Isaiah 45:18) "God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else."

The word vain is from the Heb. word pronounced toòhuò or to'-hoo. Same word used in Genesis 1:2:

And the earth was without form ( toòhuò or to'-hoo) which comes from an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), that is, desert; figuratively a worthless thing; adverbially in vain:—confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness and void (boòhuò or bo'-hoo) comes from an unused root meaning to be empty; a vacuity, that is, (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin:—emptiness, void.

and darkness (khoh-shek') was upon the face of the deep.
From the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness:—dark (-ness), night, obscurity.
How do Young Earth Creationists (YEC) reconcile the state of the earth in Genesis 1:2 to a God who Creates all things good?
Now if God said He didn't create the earth in vain, (toòhuò or to'-hoo) who are we to say that He did? This is a state that the earth came into.



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**Also translated “became” in the footnote of the Torah.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Biblical Truth or Contradictions

I encountered a man who threw away his beliefs in the Bible citing as an example the difference between Matthew and Mark's Gospels with regard to the healing of the blind beggars of Jericho.

How can the differences between Mark and Matthew’s account of the healing of the blind both be true in every detail?

The story of the healing of the blind beggars is one of the stories that skeptics use to discount the accuracy and inspiration of the Bible itself. Here are the two accounts:

Mark 10:46-52 KJV

46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Matthew 20:29-34 KJV

29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.
31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.
32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
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Both accounts identify the proximity of the city of Jericho as the site where the miracle took place.
Both accounts record the presence of a large crowd accompanying Jesus and his disciples.
Matthew records that there were two blind men while Mark records only one, and names him as Bartimaeus.
Both accounts say the blind had been sitting by the roadside, begging.
Both accounts say that the blind cried aloud for mercy from Jesus, son of David.
Both accounts tell of the crowds attempt to shut the(m) up.
Both accounts say that Jesus responded with an invitation.
Both accounts say that Jesus asked what the desire of him was.
Both accounts record the same answer to Jesus’ question.
Both accounts record the miracle of the healing of the blind. Matthew adds a detail that Jesus touched the blind while Mark omits the small detail. This is not a problem even for the skeptics.
Mark records Jesus’ dismissal of Bartimaeus by saying, “Go thy way…” Matthew omits that detail—again this is not a problem for both accounts declare that the blind who were healed followed Jesus.
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Out of all of the information provided in both gospels, there is only one point of difference, yet some will toss out the plenary inspiration of scripture in total because of this. Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel! But is this the infallible Word of God or not? If so, how does Mark give us the name of one blind man when Matthew tells us of two unnamed blind men?
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My answer:

Matthew was there. As he walked along with Jesus that day he witnessed two blind beggars crying out to Jesus. Matthew's eyewitness is not in question. The crowd tried to silence the blind beggars but the blind cried out all the more. Upon hearing them, Jesus stopped and called for them. (Isn't that just like Jesus!) He asked them what they wanted most and they answered, 'that we might see!' He touched their eyes and their blindness was gone, and they could see! Jesus gave them leave to go their own way but they decided to accompany Jesus with the disciples as did many others. This is even more evident later when the disciples were to pick a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:21-23), one who followed along with the disciples throughout Jesus' entire earthly ministry, (from the beginning) and there were at least two men who fit that catagory.

Mark (John Mark) wasn’t a witness on the day that the miracle of the healing of the blind took place.
It is commonly said that Mark’s home was the site of the last supper and a gathering place on the day of Pentecost and a place where prayer meetings were held (Acts 12:12) in the early days of the church. Mark happened to be the nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) and like a son to Peter (1 Peter 5:15) he traveled with Paul who criticised Marks immaturity early on but later desired and received Marks assistance.

The first appearance of Mark in the Bible is believed to be an autobiographical description of himself at the Garden of Gethsemane:

Mark 14:50-52

50 And they all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.


The fact that only Mark records this seemingly insignificant incident specifying a particular ‘certain young man’ makes it clear that this curious young man (Mark) was eyewitness if not the participant to whom he referred.
In the days that followed Jesus’ resurrection Mark became familiar with the men who followed Jesus, among whom was Bartimaeus, the blind beggar of Jericho. Listening intently to their stories and testimonies of the miracles of Jesus, Mark wrote them in his gospel account.

Mark’s gospel identifies the story as the healing of blind Bartimaeus, an apparent result of his hearing Bartimaeus’ own testimony from the former blind man's own mouth. Who the second blind man was or when he stopped following Jesus we aren’t told, but they were released by Jesus to go their own way. His name is unknown.

When observed in this likely scenario, there is absolutely no disagreement whatsoever in the stories recounted in the two gospels. The accounts themselves prove the truth of the miracle of the blind beggars of Jericho and the honesty, integrity and credibility of the Bible.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Have The Bones of Jesus Been Found?

There has been a lot of controversy over the latest offering of Simcha Jacobovici's latest claim that the family tomb of Jesus has been uncovered. Posing as an archaeologist after the order of 'Indiana Jones' for the History channel, Mr. Jacobovici has already been discredited for his outlandish claims about the Bible. I have re-printed here at the behest of AFV a letter of rebuttal to the documentary.
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Tales from the Crypt
Do we have the bones of Jesus?
by Kerby Anderson


The last week in February started out with an incredible announcement. James Cameron (director of the film “Titanic”) and Simcha Jacobovici announced that they have found the bones of Jesus! At their news conference, they promoted their Discovery Channel special “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” that will air on March 4th and also promoted the book by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino entitled The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History released by Harper-Collins.

The foundational claim is that they have discovered the family tomb of Jesus Christ. But is this really the tomb of Jesus or his family? There are many good reasons to believe this tomb has no relationship at all to Jesus and his family. Many are asking what to think about these claims. Therefore, I put together a quick two-page summary of some of the criticisms and concerns that surfaced in the first few hours after the announcement. Before we look at those criticisms, let’s first review the history of this tomb.

We have known about this tomb since it was discovered in 1980. Back then,
Israeli construction workers were digging the foundation for a new building in a Jerusalem suburb. Their digging revealed a cave with ten limestone ossuaries. Archeologists removed the limestone caskets for examination.

When they were able to decipher the names on the ten ossuaries, they found: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua. At the time, one of Israel’s most prominent archeologists (Professor Amos Kloner) didn’t associate the crypt with Jesus. He rightly argued that the father of Jesus was a humble carpenter who couldn’t afford a luxury crypt for his family. Moreover, the names on the crypt were common Jewish names.

All of this hasn’t stopped James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici from promoting the tomb as the family tomb of Jesus. They claim to have evidence (through DNA tests, archeological evidence, and Biblical studies) to prove that the ten ossuaries belong to Jesus and his family. They also argue that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah. However, a number of biblical scholars say this is a really just an old story now being recycled in an effort to create a media phenomenon that will sell books and guarantee a large audience for the television special.

First, does it really make sense that this would be the family tomb of Jesus? Remember that Jesus was in Jerusalem as a pilgrim and was not a resident of the city. How would his family be able to buy this tomb? As we already mentioned, Joseph (who probably was not alive and died in Galilee) and his family did not have the funds to buy such an elaborate burial site. Moreover, they were from out of town and would need time to find this tomb location. To accept this theory, one has to believe they stole the body of Jesus and moved it to this tomb in a suburb of Jerusalem all within about a day’s time.

Second, if this is the family tomb of Jesus and his family, why is Jesus referred to as the “son of Joseph?” As far as we can determine from history, the earliest followers of Jesus never called Jesus the “son of Joseph.” The record of history is that it was only outsiders who mistakenly called him that.

Third, if this is the family tomb of Jesus, why do we have the name of Matthew listed with the rest of the family? If this is the Matthew that traveled with Jesus, then he certainly was not a family member. And you would have to wonder why James (who remained in Jerusalem) would allow these inscriptions as well as allow the family to move the body from Jerusalem to this tomb and perpetrate a hoax that Jesus bodily rose from the grave. Also, the fourth-century church historian Eusebius writes that the body of James (the half-brother of Jesus) was buried alone near the temple mount and that his tomb was visited in the early centuries.

Fourth, there is the problem with the common names on the tombs. Researchers have cataloged the most common names at the time. The ten most common were: Simon/Simeon, Joseph, Eleazar, Judah, John/Yohanan, Jesus, Hananiah, Jonathan, Matthew, and Manaen/Menahem. These are some of the names found on the ossuaries and thus suggest that the tomb belonged to someone other than Jesus of Nazareth and his family. In fact, the name Jesus appears in 98 other tombs and on 21 other ossuaries.

Finally there is the question of the DNA testing. Apparently there is evidence that shows that the DNA from the woman (in what they say is the Mary Magdalene ossuary) and the DNA from the so-called Jesus ossuary does not match. So they argue that they were not relatives and thus must have been married.

But does the DNA evidence really prove that? It does not prove she is his wife. In fact, we really don’t even know who in the ossuaries are related to the other. Moreover, we do not have an independent DNA control sample to compare these findings with. At best, the DNA evidence shows that some of these people are related and some are not.

All of this looks like sensationalism from Simcha Jacobovici (who has a reputation as an Indiana-Jones type) and James Cameron (the director of the “Titanic.”). The publicity is certain to sell books and draw a television audience, but it is not good history or archaeology.