30 December 2008

Book Recommendation: The Day and the Hour (Francis X. Gumerlock)

I have had this book on my shelf for some time, but finally pulled it down and have been reading through it. The Day and the Hour (by Francis X. Gumerlock) is a fascination wealth of blurbs about people throughout most all of history who have predicted the "second coming" and/or the "end of the world" and all such similar surrounding theological positions. I am surprised at just how much content there is, and some of the obscure people and teachings. It must have been some feat to gather so much information

The book starts with predictions as early as 41 AD, and goes through predictions set as late as 3836 (yes, even a small blurb about 2012...lol). Most of the comments range from simple one-liners to a small paragraph (except for the more modern times discussions), but the huge amount of reference and footnotes for each chapter is a wealth of resources worth the price of the book itself.

Much of it is quite humorous, but overall, it just shows how quick man has been to jump on the "end of the world" bandwagon over the simplest things in history. Of course, it also shows how they have ALL been so wrong. Of course when it comes to our own generation, and you see the failed predictions over and over again by men who are still being published, preaching and teaching, it makes you wonder what is wrong with people...and what if we brought back the death penalty for false prophets ;-]

Interesting reading for sure.

20 December 2008

Death Examined (Pt 2)

I have always been taught, as many of you probably have, that Adam was created immortal, and would never had died if he had been faithful and not eaten from the tree. I had never really questioned it, rarely ever giving it a second thought, until I started reading and asking questions about things, then found out that many other reputable theologians taught that this was not the case.

One of the first things that hit me was, why was Adam given free access to the tree of life if he was immortal? Why would he need life if he would never die?

Actually, the first thing that got me thinking and looking further, was the way it was written in the Young's Literal translation of the Bible:
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die
In dying you will die? That struck me as odd, and appears to be saying that when you die, you will die. I then flipped over to the Septuagint, which basically says "die by death." So, was there a way to die without being by "death" is one question? The English translations all basically say "shall surely die" yet looking at the original Hebrew there, the words thou shalt surely do not actually exist, and you have just two words, similar Hebrew words, both labeled with the same Strong's code for die; yet the two words differ slightly, so technically would be dying die.

Now remember, this is the same verse that says in the very day that they eat, they shall "die" (by death?), so whatever is being said here, we have every right to assume that it will take place on the very day they transgress. Since we know they did not drop down and physically die after eating, we have every right to understand the death being spoken of as differing from physical death. It does NOT say when they eat they will begin dying, as some stretch it to say; nor does it say they will become mortal and thus be on track to die. It says on the day they eat, they will die.

One thing we do know for certain, on the day they ate, within moments after the act, they were changed for sure. So, who was right, God or the serpent? God said they would die (by death), the serpent said they wouldn't die, but would have their eyes opened. Did they die? Did they have their eyes open? Yes, it seems they did both, which seems to imply that their eyes being opened is related to the death promised. So, was God's promise of "dying" on the day of eating relating to actual physical end of life?

Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period
to begin the search, and found the following regarding death:
Views of death in the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Jewish texts, and the New Testament vary widely. Death is seen as both natural and a result of sin. The tension appears already in Genesis 2-3. God warns the first humans that if they transgress the commandment they will die (2:17). Nonetheless, their exclusion from the immortality that the tree of life could give them indicates that they were mortal at the time they sinned (3:22-24).
So, we see the connection made as I mentioned before. The tree of life, in some way, would prolong their life, possibly even grant immortality, meaning they did not already possess immortality. It goes on:
The term "death" developed a moral dimension, particularly in the wisdom literature in the concept of the two ways of life and death. To sin was to walk in the way of death, in two senses. One's sins could lead to premature death. The person who lived an unrighteous life, apart from God, was already walking in the realm of death.
This is an important remark, I believe. Someone who is living in sin, living outside of God's righteous commands, later to be referred to as living outside of God's covenant, are said to already be dead. When Adam disobeyed God...when he broke the commandment...when he broke the "covenant"...he entered the realm of "death" and left the realm of life he previously enjoyed. He went from being alive in God, to being dead in the flesh, yet no physical transition occurred. This is commonly referred to in the theological world as spiritual death.

I will stop here, as I am still arranging my thoughts on how to best proceed beyond this point (and I try to keep these posts real short for ease of reading).

If you have not already, go back and read my series called Descended into hell...? which discussed where Christ went for three days after he physical life ended, the place of "death" that all mankind went after life above ground. The connection will be hopefully tied together in future segments of this series on death.

04 December 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 8) - Angels & Objections (Pt 2)

This week I purchased a copy of The Genesis Debate: Persistent Question about Creation and the Flood for the sole purpose of reading debate section nine between F.B. Huey, Jr. and John H. Walton on "Are the 'Sons of God' in Genesis 6 Angels?" but in having it will be much interested in many of the other topics discussed.

I immediately jump into reading the John H. Walton section who took the negative position on the discussion, hoping to find some additional theological objections to the angels view of Genesis 6. Unfortunately, this book has proved to be of little to no use in my quest on this topic. However, I will share what Walton does discuss.

He starts by laying out the three basic views that are associated with this discussion (see my previous post for a breakdown of them again), and he states his adherence to the position that the "sons of God" were rulers or princes, and the daughters of men simply the commoners. I breezed over this view in part 7 because it was basically thrown out by the book I was quoting from, as the least substantiated position.

He says he is setting out to "indicate the weaknesses in that (angels) position" and will then "proceed to a defense of position three," (the rulers/prince position). He begins by setting out to establish the principal defenses of the angel view, first quoting from U. Cassuto's "The Episode of the Sons of God and the Daughters of Man" from his book Biblical and Oriental Studies:

Firstly it is impossible that the words benoth ha'adam [daughters of man] in verse 2 should be used in a different sense from that which they have in verse 1 (ha'adam...ubenoth)[man began to multiply and daughters were born...]; and since in verse 1 the human species as a whole is certainly referred to, it cannot be doubted that in verse 2 it is human beings in general that are intended. Since, moreover, the expression bene ha'elohim [sons of God] is employed in antithesis to benoth ha'adam [daughters of man], it is clear that the former pertains to beings outside the human sphere. Secondly, wherever bene (ha)'elohim or bene'elim [literally 'sons of Gods'] occurs (Psalm 29:1; 89:7 [Eng. 6]; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; also Deuteronomy 32:8 according to the text of the Septuagint) angels are referred to. When, therefore, we find in our section the expression bene ha'elohim without any explanatory addition, we have no right to attribute to it a connotation other than that which it normally has in the Bible.
Maybe you are not as dense as me, but I had to re-read that quote about three times or so before it really sunk in what was being so eloquently said. In summary, he is saying the two terms are set against each other to represent two different "types" of beings, not just two different "classes" of humans. He then says that in all of the other places the terms are used it is clearly in reference to angels, and therefore we have no exegetical reason to interpret the term differently in this one verse simply because no clear cut mention of angels is present. To my knowledge, this is one of the foundational and basic exegetical/interpretation principals of interpretation...let the Bible interpret itself. If the Bible defines a term in one place and then uses it in multiple other places, we can easily assume it has the same meaning. Well, surprisingly, Walton takes such an application of interpretation with a grain of salt:
The treatment of the phrase "sons of God" in the history of interpretation provides us with a good example of the potential that exists for the misuse of lexical data. (Now, catch this - JM) It is true that the phrase "sons of God" refers to angels every time that it is used in the Old Testament, but what is the significance of that piece of information? (emphasis mine - JM)
So, he admits that every other place in scripture it does means angels, but that such a fact has no bearing on its use here in Genesis 6. Wow, I find such a statement to be shockingly ridiculous both logically and biblically. His defense of such a statement is simply because "that phrase only occurs three times in the form that occurs in Genesis 6" and that "This makes for a very small lexical base and cannot be considered sufficient to make broad sweeping statements about exclusiveness in the semantic range of the phrase." So, because it is used consistently to means angels in the other three times it is used, that has no bearing on the fourth use of it, simply because it is only three other times being defined. Three or three hundred times, how can that make a difference? If it is clearly defined the all other cases, why would we even try to assume it to be different in the fourth case, especially when there is nothing in the text of Genesis 6 to imply it should be interpreted differently?

As we have previously pointed out, the evidence from other Jewish writings, from the understanding of it in history, from the quotes referencing it in the NT, this angel view is the prominent interpretation, and I personally still see no reason why so much trouble is being made to dismiss it. A question that is likewise brought up in the defense of the angel position by Walton's opponent in this book, F.B. Huey, Jr. In his section he quotes from another writer who makes this comment about interpretations of this section by liberal and conservative scholars:
Liberal scholars who usually are associated with denial of the supernatural generally accept Genesis 6:1-4 as an account of a liaison between divine beings and humans, whereas conservative scholars, who believe implicitly in angels, are the ones who tend to disallow any such import to this passage.
I find this to be the case in most conservative churches that I attend. They openly believe in angels, yet as we have seen, seek to dismiss this position in Genesis 6. But why? He continues on by quoting another author, W.A. Van Gemeren, who points out this inconsistency with these unsettling questions:
Why does the theology in which creation, miracles, the miraculous birth and resurrection of Jesus have a place, prefer a rational explanation of Genesis 6:1-4?...Normally, the goal of interpretation has been the elucidation of the word of God so the community of faith may know what to believe and what to do. When, however, the object of interpretation becomes the removal of apparent obstacles to which the passage may give rise, reinterpretation is introduced, and one may wonder how this differs from demythologization...Is the difficulty so great that it must be removed as something offensive? Is it possible that theology has taken the place of exegesis? ("The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4 (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?)," Westminster Theological Journal 43 (Spring 1981) 320.
In short he is asking what the big deal is that we have to reinterpret a verse rather than accept the interpretation as the Bible lays it out? Has our theological and belief systems overthrown proper exegesis/interpretation of the text?

Getting back to Walton's opposing position he goes on to say "it must be admitted that from a theoretical point of view it is still possible that the phrase "sons of God" was limited to angels in ancient Hebrew idiom." But of course follows by saying though, that the narrow range of examples cannot give us conclusive evidence. He then goes through a couple other examples where the individual words (mainly 'elohim) are used to refer to humans, implying that since it can be used to speak of human judges, that it weakens the position that it must always be referring to supernatural beings. He admits a bit of the weakness of this part of his argument by stating "This is of course speculative, but the main point is that there is no sound basis for placing strict limitations on the semantic range of the phrase "sons of God".

In his conclusion on this section of the term, he says "Our conclusion is that there is no element of the text that requires that the sons of God be understood as angels, although we would admit that understanding as one of the possible readings of the text if no other suitable or preferable explanation can be found (emphasis mine - JM). Since when do we interpret the texts based on our "preferable" views? Is that why there is such a fuss...because the angel view is not preferred by some? I still ask WHY?

This is a similar argument that we find in the discussion of eschatology, when one side says that the word "generation" is always used referring to the current, living generation of people hearing the message, except when it comes to Jesus' words in Matthew 24 for example, where it obviously has to mean something totally different than a reference to his generation being spoken to...but hey, that is a topic for another day ;-]

I must say the second part of his discussion, attacking the historical understanding of the term, gives even less insight or help on the matter. Built upon his idea that 'elohim can refer to human judges/kings, he starts a comparison of the attributes revealed in the "well-known Gilgamesh epic" to show that this ancient poem about the fictitious king displays attributes similar those of the Nephilim mentioned in Gen. 6. This basically implies that such terminology was common in pagan literature, and could easily have been likewise used in biblical literature. His concluding points on this are:
I have attempted to demonstrate that each element of Genesis 6:1-4, however vague it may be, has a parallel of sorts in the Gilgamesh epic, as follows: (1) Gilgamesh qualifies as a "son of God" by virtue of titulary; (2) as a hero of old he personifies the biblical category of gibborim [hero], and as a giant he qualifies as one of the nephilim (if such an understanding of nephilim is considered accurate); (3) through the exercise of jus primae noctis [law of the first night] Gilgamesh takes wives (whichever ones he wants), and even in the Gilgamesh epic this is used to characterize his unjust behavior; (4) Gilgamesh is frustrated in his attempts to gain immortality.
He admits that the parallel in itself is not the point, but that this story shows the ancient royal motifs that may have been influential in the Genesis writer's use of terms.
This interpretation makes sense of the elements of Genesis 6:1-4 in the context of its ancient Near Eastern background. The fact that it fits does not of course prove that it is right. In the case of this difficult passage, however, anything that even fits is worthy of consideration.
A couple questions on his last statement there: (1) Why is this passage so difficult in light of the other clear uses in Scripture? in History? in other Jewish writings? (2) Why go to such extremes to rationale another view as "worthy of consideration" to begin with...I still wonder that.
 

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
 

03 December 2008

Death Examined (Pt 1)

In my current studies, I wish to spend some time looking at death and the various ways it is used in the Scriptures. Unfortunately many Bible readers see the English word death and immediately assume it to always be speaking of literal end-of-life scenarios...but is it? Most all Christians know that there is both a spiritual and physical death spoken of in Scripture, but even breaking it into those two categories is still a pretty "physical" and literal meaning for the words.

What other ways do we find it used throughout scripture? What other ways is it used that might be commonly misunderstood outside of a deep rooted understanding of Hebrew culture? I know I for one, have gotten confused over the many ways the Scripture uses the same word to refer to many different kinds of "life" other than just physical and spiritual, like when it is used to refer to someone outside of God's covenant...an understanding I know I am not always quick to catch due to my "Greek-ness."

Some examples I hope to dig deeper into and examine are things like:

  • God promised Adam in the garden regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Obviously this has nothing to do with physically dying, for we know he ate and did not physically die. So, we know he spiritually "died" as his eyes were opened that same day. However, then in the NT we are told that Christ came to fix/reverse the death that was brought by Adam...and we always assume that to mean physical death, yet it was not physical death that Adam gave us...so what are the implications?

  • Quite often in the OT, when the people of God were breaking covenant with God, they are referred to as "dead" and without life; and when they return to faithfulness, they are said to be restored to life, raised from the dead, resurrected, etc. Yet we are too quick to assume these terms always means something physical, especially in the NT.

  • Jesus says in John 8:51: Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. yet first century Christians who believed and followed him have long since died...physically at least. What "death was Jesus referring to that they would never "see."
These are just some of the type issues that I would like to study, research and share as time permits. Actually, I am hoping to find and purchase a book on the subject, that has already examined this in detail. If anyone knows of one, one that explores the deep Hebrew understanding, let me know. In the meantime, I will use what resources I currently have on my self, and piece-meal together what I can on the subject. So here we begin a new little series...Death Examined! 

20 November 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 7) - The Angels of Jude

In continuing to look at the controversial discussion on angels and women procreating in Genesis 6, as laid out in detail in the book of Enoch and elsewhere, I wish to share a bit of modern scholarship on the topic from the recently released Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, from the discussion of the book of Jude. This book breaks down the verses and discusses them from various angles; NT Context, OT Context, and Jewish Context (with others). While this section is quite lengthy, I will try to compact it some, but this post will be a bit more lengthy than previous posts, so as to not lose the content.

In this section on Jude, they also tie it in and deal somewhat with a similar mention in 2 Peter:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)
Notice, again, the connection between the angels sinning followed by mention of Noah that I mentioned in previous articles. Then, in moving to Jude.
And the angels that did not keep within their original authority, but abandoned their proper sphere, he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day. And S’dom, ‘Amora and the surrounding cities, following a pattern like theirs, committing sexual sins and perversions, lie exposed as a warning of the everlasting fire awaiting those who must undergo punishment. (Jude 6-7 CJB)
The following are excerpts from the author on the topic:
The most plausible interpretation of Jude 4 is that the author has in mind ancient Jewish prophecies found in the Scriptures, for these are the examples that he proceeds to list in vv. 5-7, 11...These ancient prophecies may, in Jude's mind, include prophetic words from 1 Enoch.

Under the assumption that the OT background to Jude 6 is Gen. 6:1-4, we must ask what the latter passage means. There have been three primary interpretations: (1) the "sons of God" are angels who crossed species lines and married human women, producing "Nephilim" who were "heroes of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:4); (2) the "sons of God" were kings, judges and other members of aristocratic nobility who displayed their own greatness by indulging in polygamy and creating harems; (3) the "sons of God" were human males from the putatively godly line of Seth who freely married women from ungodly lines.

Nowadays the majority of interpreters from across the theological spectrum accept the angel interpretation...This interpretation is assumed by the LXX, and supported by most early Jewish exegesis, though not quite all, as well as by all the earliest church fathers and some later ones (including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Lactantius), but not by some later fathers (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret). "Sons of God" (in the plural) refers elsewhere in the OT to angels - certainly so in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7, and probably so in Ps. 29:1; 89:7; Dan. 3:25 (where bar-'elahin underlies the traditional rendering "mighty ones" or the like found in most English versions). Yet the interpretation does not easily fit the context of the flood, since that judgment is pronounced against humanity. (I fail to see the issue here personally...if the marriage produced wicked offspring, mixing the blood of species, and if the angels and their offspring taught mankind all kinds of sinful practices, weaponry, war, astrology, etc. then all of mankind has been tainted by this wickedness, and therefore mankind needed cleansed...save Noah and his family who had not been tainted by this union and its teachings - JM). According to Jesus, angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25) (do not marry each other...that is about the most you can take from this reference by Jesus, that the common practice of marriage is a covenant that angels do not engage in, in their spiritual existence - since he is relating it to man in his post-resurrected state. However, this does not in anyway make a case for the inability of angels to marry or procreate with other species, which is the case in Gen 6 - JM), and although excellent efforts have been undertaken to avoid this and other objections to the angel interpretation, the niggle make it less than a sure thing.
I will skip the majority of the refutation on the authors part of the view that "sons of God" refers to kings, nobles, and other aristocrats, since personally I have found this to be a less often used view in this discussion. But in brief, his conclusion to the refutations is:
...there is no linguistic warrant outside of Gen. 6:1-4 for supposing that "sons of God" refers to "divine kings" or, more generally, to aristocratic ruling figures, wheras the reading of "angels" has a long track record, including the LXX (Septuagint - JM).
He then continues in the sons of Seth view:
The view that "sons of God" refers to the line of Seth, while daughters of human beings" refers to non-Sethian women, not only suffers from an absence of philological support but also has few elements in its favor compared with the "diving kings" view.
To me it seems like a pretty big leap to say the sons of Seth and the ungodly human marriage would produce such notable and giant offspring that would so taint mankind that they would need exterminated. Breaking covenant is one thing, but throughout the rest of the OT, we find other sons of godly Israel intermarrying with pagan neighbors, and no such odd offspring or repercussions come about.

He goes on in the following sub-sections to state:
The interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 that takes "the sons of God" to be angels (often called "Watchers") who have sexual intercourse with women is widespread in early Judaism (e.g., 1 En. 6-19; 21; 86-88; Jub. 4:15, 22; 5:1; CD=A II, 17-19; 1QapGen ar II, 1; Tg. Ps.-J. Gen. 6:1-4; T. Reub. 5:6-7; T. Naph. 3:5; 2 Bar. 56:10-14).

However we understand "the sons of God" in the Hebrew of Gen. 6:1-4, the LXX refers to them as angeloi, which word is picked up in both Jude 6 and 2 Pet. 2:4 and, in the NT, is almost always used of angels, rarely "messengers," and never of aristocratic figures such as kings and nobles. In other words, on the basis of philology alone, the angel interpretation seems most credible, unless one accepts the synthesis of Waltke and others who see that the "divine kings" are "possessed" by fallen angels, combining the strengths of the first two interpretations.
So, all in all, another mostly positive testimony for the historic view.

Here is an article I found that goes into a lot of interpretive detail on the subject. Though I do not agree with all of what is said, much of it provides good insight in the matter. Click HERE
 

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
 

11 November 2008

Descended into hell? (Pt 9): Testimony from the Church Fathers

In this part, I pick up sort of where I left off in the previous part, looking again at what the early church fathers had to say on the topic of Jesus descending into Hades, as we have been examining this often misunderstood phrase from the Apostle's Creed.

The book on the church fathers that I have been using gives four main "proof texts" for the understanding of Jesus' descent into Hades, one of which being Ephesians 4:9 as discussed in the last part, and the others are:

For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. (Acts 2:25-27)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Peter 4:6)
Again, the purpose of my quoting of the early church fathers is not so much because they have more authority, but because of the light they shed on the reason and purpose and teaching surrounding the phrase in the Apostle's Creed. So many churches seek to explain it away, and have all but ignored the original intent, and have caused much confusion. Here is what the historic church has believed concerning the subject:
Christ rose from the place of the dead, and raised up the race of Adam from the grave below. Melito (c.170).
They fully believed and understood the Scriptures to teach that when Jesus rose, he rose from somewhere. He had not simply ceased to exist for three days, nor had he been asleep, and he had not yet gone to the heavenly realm, but he had been busy and had returned from his work.
For their benefit, "He also descended into the lower parts of the earth," to behold with His eyes the state of those who were resting from their labors...For Christ did not come merely for those who believed on Him in the time of Tiberius Caesar. Nor did the Father exercise His providence only for the men who are presently alive. Rather, He exercised it for all men altogether, who from the beginning...have both feared and loved God.

It was for this reason, too, that the Lord descended into the regions beneath the earth, preaching His advent there also. And he [declared] the remission of sins received by those who believe in Him.

He gathered from the ends of the earth into His Father's fold the children who were scattered abroad. And He remembered His own dead ones, who had previously fallen asleep. He came down to them so that He might deliver them.

For three days He dwelt in the place where the dead were, as the prophet said concerning Him. "And the Lord remembered His dead saints who slept formerly in the land of the dead. And he descended to them to rescue and save them." The Lord Himself said, "As Jonah remained three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth." Irenaeus (c.180) - four separate quotes
I could go on with multiple other quotes, but I think after all the previous parts of this series, that ending the topic with a few additional quotes would be sufficient to show that we as a modern church have strayed far from the original and historical understanding of this (among other) doctrines. I will end with just one more:
Hades is not supposed by us to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world. Rather it is a vast deep space in the interior of the earth...For we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth...He did not ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth. This was so that He might there [in Hades] make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of Himself. Tertullian (c.210)
As high of an importance as most Reformed churches place on adherence to the Apostle's Creed as a test of orthodoxy, I find it odd that they would reinterpret parts of it to their liking in the face of such overwhelming information against the view. This understanding of these verses was the common doctrine of those instrumental in forming the early creeds. Most modern churches strike out at and/or reinterpret this very doctrine of Christ's descent into Hades as taught in the Creed and history; are we to assume they feel the framers of the creed were in error on this point; and if they were in error on this phrase, how can we hold any of the other parts of the creed as a irrefutable, beyond discussion, test or orthodoxy?
 

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
 

10 November 2008

Bleeding the Church: Expecting Something for Nothing?

Some of you who know me, know of my long time and heavy involvement in music. I have been in many bands over the past 22 years, but have also been a music collector for longer. I have a large collection of music related items, have been a supporter and promoter of Christian music since the 80's, even running my own underground music magazine for a handful of years in the late 80's/early 90's, and today continue to work with and write for a currently published music magazine. This article results from my years of involvement in music, as well as recent events that spawned this story. I wrote the majority of this articles almost two years ago, and found the text buried on my pen drive, and decided to finish it and post it here. This story is also painting with broad strokes often, and is not directed at any specific event in my life, but a general overview of my experiences.

05 November 2008

Eschatology Informs Your Worldview

Just thought I'd share this excellent video by Gary DeMar.

02 November 2008

Old Testament Studies

I have recently begun a concerted effort to study the Old Testament in more depth, for the purpose of more fully grasping the weight and purpose of what is said in the New Testament. I fully stand behind the idea that much of the confusion in the modern church, leading to many odd and misleading doctrines, comes from a faulty, or often totally absent reading/understanding of the words and language of what was laid out in the OT.

I wish to share some of the books I have begun using for this study, and if you know of any others that are great, please let me know. These are just a few that I currently have in my possession for the study. The first being picture above, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This massive 1239 page volume promises to hold a wealth of wisdom as it looks to take the words of the NT and find their OT reference point. Click the book photo or link to read some great reviews and additional information.

Another book I will be using is "An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach" by Bruce K. Waltke. I do not know much about it aside from the great reviews it got. The author is listed as being one of the outstanding OT scholars around, and is the professor of OT at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. I did find it odd that some reviewers listed him as leaning towards dispensational understandings in some area, which I thought strange for someone supposedly Reformed, but noticed he did get his ThD from Dallas Theological Seminary), so I am hoping it is not too persuasive in his writing.

Another book I recently heard of and acquired which sounds promising, is "A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context" by Scot McKnight. The book looks at Jesus and his dealing with national Israel and its role as God's holy people in the first century world, and his message calling them to repentance.

I see people too often taking words of the NT way out of context and making odd applications to today's church, when the thrust of what was being said was directed at the specific first century people, under specific scenarios applicable to their culture and issues of that time. This is not to say that I don't feel we can glean applications from most all of scripture, but far too often, the original intent and application is ignored, unknown or just abused beyond all reason, and the true thrust of what is being said gets butchered. So far, I have begun reading the prologue, and have been pleased with the direction this book is heading.

A couple recent NT Wright book purchases which I have also begun reading, are directed along the same line, and so far have proved very enlightening and helpful to my studies. The most recent book which goes for the throat of modern understandings in various areas, and gets to some of the roots of the historic meaning of issues, is "Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church." One of the reviews on the back cover states
Responsible Christians must carefully study this book. It uniquely meets the challenge facing the Church with recovering the original, radical understanding of resurrection, salvation, and the Good News of life now in the Kingdom of God. - Dallas Willard
It sounds very promising and helpful.

Another of his books that I actually began reading a couple months ago, is volume three of the Christian Origins and the Question of God series, entitled "The Resurrection of the Son of God." I have read a good chunk of the beginning and have been well pleased on the amount of great historical depth he presents. I have been on the search for the first two volumes (hoping to find them in hardback at a reasonable price), but know my continued reading in this volume will be beneficial.

And the last major set I will mention (but not by far the last of the books I will use), is a nice set I recently acquired, entitled "The IVP Bible Background Commentary" and has a volume on both the New and Old Testament. It appears to be a very interesting commentary, which each verse/section presenting background information and references that will hopfully aid in my study.

There are various other titles I have gleaned from recently, and I am always on the lookout for books to further and deepen my study in this area, so feel free to post suggestions of what has been beneficial in your studies in this area.

I am sure as the study continues, I will be sharing pieces of what I find in these volumes, and welcome any discussion you may wish to share.

27 October 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Not sure if they are appearing nationwide, but I keep seeing these silly little commercials on TV trying to convince viewers that High Fructose Corn Syrup is safe and similar to sugar and honey. Yes a simple internet search will reveal to you a wealth of information on both sides of the argument, and the side against makes a much stronger case, in my opinion, than those who would support these current commercials. I wish to simply share one short, concise article I found on the subject, and hope those with a health conscious mind will ready further and decide.

One of the big issues that surrounds this product, is whether or not it indeed is chemically addicting, and leads to further cravings and ingestion of more and more, causing weight issues.

Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

by Kevin Millard, Jul 4, 2007
(http://www.healthmad.com/Nutrition/Dangers-of-High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup.32885)

High fructose corn syrup is the new silent killer. Sadly, it is found in almost everything we eat. find out how to avoid it.

One of the greatest ways we can improve our health is to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from our diets.

What is HFCS?

HFCS is not the run of the mill corn syrup found on the grocery store shelf, nor is it the fructose naturally found in fruits and honey. HFCS is a highly refined clear liquid derived from corn starch. Food manufactures love to use it because of its long shelf life an it's relative low cost.

Why is HFCS Bad for us?

Since HFCS's widespread introduction in the 1980's North American obesity rates have skyrocketed. Obesity has been linked to may heath issues including heart disease and many forms of cancer. When HFCS is ingested, it travels straight to the liver which turns the sugary liquid into fat, and unlike other carbohydrates HFCS does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin; which acts as a hunger quenching signal to the brain. So we get stuck in a vicious cycle, eating food that gets immediately stored as fat and never feeling full.

Where is HFCS found?

HFCS is found in almost everything we eat today. However, the worst culprit has to be soft drinks. A single 12 oz can of cola has up to 13 tsp of sugar, most of it fructose from HFCS. There is HFCS hidden in many of our other food as well, like ketchup, relish, cookies, and most alarmingly in low-fat diet foods. Manufactures substitute HFCS for the fat in food like mayo and salad dressings, then mark them as diet foods.

How Can We Avoid HFCS?


Avoiding HFCS will take a lifestyle change for the better. The first food to go has to be the soft drinks; this includes fruit punch, fruit cocktails, and Kool-Aid since they are all laden with HFCS.

Second, eat more meals at home. Restaurant foods are mostly prepackaged foods reheated and served to you. Use of HFCS in these foods is wide spread because of their increased shelf life.

Third, diet while you shop. Since you are going to be eating most of your meals at home, you're going to want to fill your cupboards with the best foods. While shopping, read the labels, if HFCS, fructose, or modified corn starch appears within the first five ingredients place it back on the shelf an move on. Sounds easy right? Wrong. As you make your way through the store you will begin to realize just how much of what you have been eating on a daily basis contains HFCS.

Reducing HFCS will not always be easy, but the health benefits are well worth it. You will feel stronger and more vital, it will lift your mood and give you increased concentration. Limiting your intake of HFCS will not only shrink your midsection but also do wonders for your over all health.


An article discussing the commercials and the controversy can be found at

http://cbs5.com/health/high.Fructose.Corn.2.831352.html

You may also wish to check out CornSyrupKills.net

26 October 2008

Nothing New about the New Testament

Back in the 1990's (and earlier of course), before the internet was such a huge part of everyone's life, and before anyone and everyone had a web page they called "home," most people or ministries that had anything to say, did it via a periodic printed and mailed newsletter or magazine. I was one of those types that also ran an underground music magazine from about 1988 through 1990, and a smaller newsletter from 1991 through about 1998 before launching finally moving most everything to a web page.

Well, I was digging through a filing cabinet today and found folder after folders of these printed newsletters and magazines from other ministries from back in the day, I ran across one that brought back thoughts and understandings that I have only in recent years really started to grasp, so I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic.

The articles in question come from the pen of one Steve Schlissel of Messiah's Congregation in Brooklyn, NY. He published the "Messiah Mandate" in various forms for many years, and the articles I am speaking of appeared in the third and fourth letters of 1998. Part one was entitled "All I Really Need to Know I Learn in the Old Testament" and part two was...maybe you guessed it..."All I Really Need to Know I Learn in the New Testament." You can click the links to go read them yourself (yes, of course they are now on the web...lol)

For a bit less than a year back in 1994, my family and I attended Pastor Schlissel's church, and were truly blessed by his preaching. While he may be considered somewhat controversial nowadays, I still consider him one of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of sitting under in my Christian life.

The articles make a strong position for the proper understanding and place of the Old Testament (OT), and how it not only contains all we need to know to preach the gospel, but that without it, the New Testament (NT) makes little sense. In today's church, there are more and more teachers that have basically thrown out the OT and focus mainly on the NT, as if the gospel originated and find its substance there alone. Even the practice of Bible companies making and distributing the little NT Bibles is a great injustice to the Word of God.

How would we look on it if say someone took the last three chapters of Pilgrims Progress and released it on its own and expected people to fully grasp what is being said. The articles go into much more excellent detail on the importance of returning to a view that see the Bible as one complete story, and not two main divisions, one old and out dated, and the other new and exciting. As it has been put before, there is nothing new about the NT; it is simply a expounding and opening of the mysteries of the OT.

When Christ and the Apostles went from town to town preaching the gospel, and pointing to the importance of the Scriptures, what Scriptures were they speaking of? The letters of Paul, Peter, etc.? Of course not, they taught all things from the written word of God, which at that time consisted of the writings of the OT (along with other Jewish writings that we have since deemed non-canonical).

For instance, in Acts 8:26 and following, we find the story of Philip and the eunuch, and we find Philip expounding the gospel and Christ from Isaiah and other OT books. Then we have the common verse in 2 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, etc. When 2 Timothy was written in the mid 60's, it is true much of the NT had already been pinned, but we can't think for a moment that there was any kind of coherent collection of writings that even closely resembled what we now call the NT. There were letters circulating, and while what is being said by Paul here to Timothy may possibly be addressing and acknowledging some of these writings, we have to see the thrust of what is being said is directed at that which was commonly known as being the Scripture, which of course is the OT.

The book of Acts finds the Apostles preaching often in the synagogues and elsewhere, expounding from the Scriptures...the OT...and thousands are coming to Christ. One of the most interesting of sayings was when Paul said:
...because of these things the Jews—having caught me in the temple—were endeavoring to kill me. Having obtained, therefore, help from God, till this day, I have stood witnessing both to small and to great, saying nothing besides the things that both the prophets and Moses spake of as about to come, that the Christ is to suffer, whether first by a rising from the dead, he is about to proclaim light to the people and to the nations. (Acts 26:21-23)
Paul said that all of his preaching, on Christ, and even resurrection, was what came from Moses and the prophets. Even Peter, in dealing with issues of the last days things taking place in his time, tells them to remember that what he is saying is from the words of the prophets (2 Peter 1:2). He was not saying they were preaching of revealing totally new issues, but they kept harking back to the prophets of old, and what they said would happen in those last days.

We should surely view the NT as nothing really new, but just the writings of the infant church that assist us in the more clear revealing and fulfilling of the things prophesied of old.

So, could YOU mimic the first century Christians and preach the gospel and the message of salvation to others without relying on the NT?

18 October 2008

Where two or three are gathered....? - OUT OF CONTEXT SCRIPTURE!



Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
If I had a nickle for every time I heard someone use this verse to claim some kind of special presence or assistance from Christ whenever two or more Christian brethren assembled in agreement with each other for some reason, I could definitely enjoy quite a few Venti Starbucks beverages.

What exactly is being said in this verse that is so often used out of context? In order to grasp the context, you must start at the beginning of the topic, back at verses fifteen. If you have a Christian brother who has sinned against you, you are to go and tell him. If he he won't listen to youAgain I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
, then you are to:

...take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (v. 16)
So right here we see why the two or three are mentioned to begin with, for the sole purpose of being witnesses against the sin of the brother in question. This standard practice hearkens back to the ancient Jewish practice and law established in Deuteronomy:
On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deut. 17:6-7)

A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Deut. 19:15)
Part of a legal hearing requires two or three witnesses for a case to be established. In Matthew 18, we are dealing with a case against a brother who has sinned. He has been approached by the one sinned against, then he has been approached with two or three others to witness his stubborn rebellion against repentance in the matter, and after those steps have been taken, by the word of the two or three witnesses, his sin is made public to the whole church body, and if he still is in rebellion and won't listen, then he is to be cast out, excommunicated from the body, and treated as one outside the faith, a pagan.

So, the two or three gathered together are not asking God for favors or prayers, but are in agreement over a judgment in the body. The Apostles were given the keys to loose and bind things on earth, and this is an example of that power in action. If you, as a member of a church, are processed legitimately through the Matthew 18 process, and are cast out, then it is indeed a fearful thing for you, as you have legally, by the very power and presence of Christ found present among the words of the two or three witnesses, been removed from the body of Christ for your rebellion.

One commentator states is clearly:

This is connected with the previous verses. The connection is this: The obstinate man is to be excluded from the church. The care of the church — the power of admitting or excluding members — of organizing and establishing it — is committed to you, the apostles (Mt 18:18). Yet there is not need of the whole to give validity to the transaction. When two of you agree, or have the same mind, feelings, and opinion, about the arrangement of affairs in the church, or about things desired for its welfare, and shall ask of God, it shall be done for them. See Acts 1:14-26, 15:1-29. The promise here has respect to the apostles in organizing the church. It cannot, with any propriety, be applied to the ordinary prayers of believers. Other promises are made to them, and it is true that the prayer of faith will be answered; but that is not the truth taught here. (Barne's Notes)
Many today have ignored the power the local, legitimate church body was given to bind and loose such things, pertaining to your very standing in the eyes of God.

Today, if someone disagrees with a church, they simply leave and move on to find one they agree with more fully. But don't be fooled, God doesn't look so simply at rebellion and lack of repentance as we might. If you leave a church in a rebellious manner, without resolving the issue via Matthew 18, your very salvation may be in question before God.

Matthew 18:19-20 is not a comfort for anyone that Jesus is present when they met; it is a call of judgment against those rebellious to the legal offices of the church established by Christ and the Apostles.


View Other "Out of Context" Verses
 

12 October 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 6) - Genesis 6, Angels & Objections (Pt 1)

Abraham and the three angelsOK, so we have gathered a few objections to the angels and women understanding of Genesis 6. However, we have also received some from a reader, so I wanted to deal with them a little also.

But first, let us turn to the early church fathers again. I gave a couple quotes from them in the two part discussion on the Nephilim (see HERE), but here is quite a few more, only a couple I will share here:
The other angels were created by Him, and entrusted with the control of matter and the forms of matter...Just as with men, they have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice...Some of them have continued in those things for which God had made them. They have remained over the things to which He had ordained them. But some outraged both the constitution of their nature and the oversight entrusted to them...These angels fell into impure love of virgins and were subjugated by the flesh...Those who are called giants were begotten from these lovers of virgins. Athenagoras (c. 175, E), 2.142

The angels are likewise possessed of personal freedom. For we can be sure that if the angels had not possessed personal freedom, they would not have consorted with the daughters of men, thereby sinning and falling from their places. In like manner, also, the other angels, who did the will of their Lord, were raised to a higher rank because of their self-control. Bardesanes (c. 222, E), 8.725.

But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards
subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness. Justin Martyr (c. 160) 1.190

...in the days of Noah He justly brought on the deluge for the purpose of extinguishing that most infamous race of men then existent, who could not bring forth fruit to God, since the angels that sinned had commingled with them... Irenaeus (c. 180) 1.524

To which also we shall add, that the angels who had obtained the superior rank, having sunk into pleasures, told to the women the secrets which had come to their knowledge... Clement of Alexandria (c. 195) 2.446
I could quote many, many more as evidence that this was pretty much the common understanding amoung the Ante-Nicene fathers, but I will stop at this point. Like I said before, I do not hold the early church up as an infallible rule, but since so many other people look to them for defending other historic doctrines, it is at least prudent to look at their teachings in such matters as these.

Now, the first objection is edited and summed up like this:

Objection #1

How could a spiritual being, an angel, impregnate a woman. Angels do not have physical bodies, they cannot take on physical bodies at will, and they do not have the creative power of God to beget life on their own. In the case of mortals, God has determined how mankind shall reproduce, and it is He who gives life. In the case of these depraved angels, it would seem impossible for them to beget children through women, or any other creature.
Now of course this objection was a quick post summed up by the writer from a lecture heard on the topic, and does not provide much depth or defense for this position, but let us briefly look at it as it is simply stated.

Where do we find in the Bible any support for these claims:

1) Angels are spiritual beings and can't impregnate women
2) Angels do not/cannot have physical bodies (or not take them on at will)
3) Angels do have the ability to beget life on their own
Interestingly, we can easily dismiss part of point two from the Scripture. Genesis 18 tells of Abraham meeting three angels, in human form, whose feet he washed, and then sat eating and drinking with them. So they obviously can take on physical bodies when needed. Most commentators agree these three visitors were angels, and I will mention just one esteemed commentator:
Before Moses proceeds to his principal subject, he describes to us, the hospitality of the holy man; and he calls the angels men, because, being clothed with human bodies, they appeared to be nothing else than men. - John Calvin
This is further enforced as being the case when just one chapter later we find:
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth (Genesis 19:1)
And again, we find them in physical form, being touched, and eating with Lot. And then what are we to make of the exhortation in Hebrews 13:2:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
It seems plain that angels can, have, and will take human form to appear to us for various reasons. Do they have power to do so at anytime as they will? Who knows. I don't believe the Scripture says much of anything relating to this, for or against, so how can we just throw the whole topic out based on silence? We have evidence they can become physical, so that is enough to dismiss the second part of this objection.

So, if they are indeed able to take human, physical form, who says they cannot have relations with or procreate with mankind? Who says they are totally unable to procreate? How do we know they indeed cannot beget life on their own? Where in the canon of Scripture is this topic even addressed?

Such objections seems solely based on speculation, and as we see, these speculations fly in the face of the church historic.
You have sometimes read and believed that the Creator's angels have been changed into human form, and have carried about so real of a body that Abraham even washed their feet and Lot was rescued from the Sodomites by their hands. An angel, moreover, wrestled with a man so strenuously with his body, that the latter desired to be let loose. Tertullian (c. 210, W), 3.523.
So, we see the Scriptures do reveal that while angels are spiritual beings, some in the order of angels, can, have, and still do take on physical form to interact with mankind. We find no evidence from canonical Scripture that these beings are incapable of sexual relations or procreation, and therefore can make no clear doctrine on the topic.

So, in my mind, this objection is no real objection based on Scripture at all.
 

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
 

Why the Constitution Party?

I thought I would share a writing I recently received from an associate regarding the Constitution Party:

by Paul Richard Strange, Sr. - My decision to join the Constitution Party was not an easy decision. The American political reality is that no alternative political movement has actually succeeded since the Republican Party first arose in the mid-1800’s. From that time to this, most citizens have preferred the stability of supporting one of the two major political parties over the major obstacles that the “new kid on the block” is bound to face.

What compelled me to actually become a Constitution Party member was whenever I asked myself the questions in my heart and mind about what the country we all love will look like if nobody is willing to help form a Constitution Party.

What kind of America will exist for the little people who deserve the constitutional liberties and economic opportunities that require that we overcome our national addiction to socialism? Can the nation continue this way? Is the current price of gasoline an omen of the reduction of the standard of living for middle America?

What kind of America will our grandchildren inherit if we never have a time when a single Congress controlled by either of the two major parties ever will justify the federal budget by any part of the Constitution in specific terms. In my entire lifetime, I have NEVER ONCE heard a journalist ask the presidential candidate of the two major parties in a national debate to explain where they find a right to abort babies in the Constitution, nor the right to give taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood in the Constitution, nor the unrelenting appetite of the obese federal government to usurp absolutely every privilege provided by our Founders for we, the people, and our state governments.

The question I’ve had to ask, “Can we really change anything as ordinary human beings who want the best of America to endure to the ages, and the worst things about America to be honestly exposed and corrected?” I believe that we can, but it takes the guts to think outside the box. Two parties that have no real competition, nor any accountability to the Constitution, cannot help themselves from always taking the paths of least political resistance.

My social critique is not simply to ignore our own tendencies as citizens. We have a First Amendment, email, and tools that previous generations of our people could never dream of. If we do nothing about socialism, nor to raise the standard of the Constitution in the public marketplace of ideas, we are many times more accountable than our parents and grandparents, who had no direct means to challenge the smoke-filled rooms, and force a constitutional renewal upon the nation!

Three things all of us can do, in my opinion:
(1) Purpose to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights at least once or twice before we vote. (Even fairly slow readers like me can read these wonderful documents in less than an hour!); and

(2) Consider getting with a few friends who don’t normally care that much about politics, order a pizza, and read these documents, and discuss what it means. (It doesn’t have to be a boring night!); and, finally,

(3) Ask each other, “What would a constitutionally reformed federal government look like?”
All of these actions are in our best interests, whether or not you ever join a new party. They will help us renew the strong sense that this truly is our country, in a way that cannot happen by simply supporting the status quo!

I Voting Third Party A Wasted Vote?

by Chuck Baldwin - When asked why they will not vote for a third party candidate, many people will respond by saying something like, "He cannot win." Or, "I don't want to waste my vote." It is true: America has not elected a third party candidate since 1860. Does that automatically mean, however, that every vote cast for one of the two major party candidates is not a wasted vote? I don't think so.

In the first place, a wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know will not lead the country in the way it should go. A wasted vote is a vote for the "lesser of two evils." Or, in the case of John McCain and Barack Obama, what we have is a choice between the "evil of two lessers."

Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. For years now, Republicans and Democrats have been leading the country in the same basic direction: toward bigger and bigger government; more and more socialism, globalism, corporatism, and foreign interventionism; and the dismantling of constitutional liberties. Yet, voters continue to think that they are voting for "change" when they vote for a Republican or Democrat. This is truly insane!

Take a look at the recent $700 billion Wall Street bailout: both John McCain and Barack Obama endorsed and lobbied for it. Both McCain and Obama will continue to bail out these international banksters on the backs of the American taxpayers. Both McCain and Obama support giving illegal aliens amnesty and a path to citizenship. In the debate this past Tuesday night, both McCain and Obama expressed support for sending U.S. forces around the world for "peacekeeping" purposes. They also expressed support for sending combat forces against foreign countries even if those countries do not pose a threat to the United States. Neither Obama nor McCain will do anything to stem the tide of a burgeoning police state or a mushrooming New World Order. Both Obama and McCain support NAFTA and similar "free trade" deals. Neither candidate will do anything to rid America of the Federal Reserve, or work to eliminate the personal income tax, or disband the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Both Obama and McCain support the United Nations. So, pray tell, how is a vote for either McCain or Obama not a wasted vote?

But, back to the "he cannot win" argument: to vote for John McCain is to vote for a man who cannot win. Yes, I am saying it here and now: John McCain cannot win this election. The handwriting is on the wall. The Fat Lady is singing. It is all over. Finished. John McCain cannot win.

With only three weeks before the election, Barack Obama is pulling away. McCain has already pulled his campaign out of Michigan. In other key battleground states, McCain is slipping fast. He was ahead in Missouri; now it is a toss-up or leaning to Obama. A couple of weeks ago, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida were all leaning towards McCain, or at least toss-up states. Now, they are all leaning to Obama. Even the longtime GOP bellwether state of Indiana is moving toward Obama. In addition, new voter registrations are at an all-time high, and few of them are registering as Republicans. In fact, the Republican Party now claims only around 25% of the electorate, and Independents are increasingly leaning toward Obama.

Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is headed for an electoral landslide victory over John McCain. John McCain can no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton.

I ask, therefore, Are not conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain guilty of the same thing that they accuse people who vote for third party candidates of doing? Are they not voting for someone who cannot win? Indeed, they are. In fact, conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain are not only voting for a man who cannot win, they are voting for a man who does not share their own beliefs and principles. If this is not insanity, nothing is!

So, why not (for once in your life, perhaps) cast a vote purely for principle! Vote for someone who is truly pro-life. Someone who would quickly secure our nation's borders, and end the invasion of our country by illegal aliens. Someone who would, on his first day in office, release Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean and fire U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Someone who would immediately, upon assuming office, begin leading the charge to dismantle the Federal Reserve, overturn the 16th Amendment, expunge the IRS, and return America to sound money principles. Someone who would get the US out of the UN. Someone who would stop spending billions and trillions of dollars for foreign aid. Someone who would prosecute the Wall Street bankers who defrauded the American people out of billions of dollars. Someone who would work to repeal NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and stop the NAFTA superhighway. Someone who would say a resounding "No" to the New World Order. Someone who would stop using our brave men and women in uniform as global cops for the United Nations. Someone who would stop America's global adventurism and interventionism. Someone who would steadfastly support and defend the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

"Who is this person?" you ask. Go here to find out:

BALDWIN '08

As John Quincy Adams said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

03 October 2008

Separation of Church and State?

The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the rights for anybody except the State!

Harry S. Truman
United States President
1945-1953

Was this man a prophet? How we've changed in the past fifty years

02 October 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 5) - More Genesis 6 "Bonus Tracks"

Nephilim Skeleton Found!!

Proof positive of an ancient breed of giants in mankind's past, exactly as mentioned in Genesis 6!
OK, so this is an obvious fake photo, but it got your attention I assume.

We pick up with this part of our series on the Book of Enoch right where we left off in part four. In the previous part, we saw the behind the scenes history of what was said happened between the angels of God and the daughters of men, stopping right as the cries of men went up to heaven.

This is where additional "behind-the-scenes" information that fills in some gaps with how Genesis 6 jumps so quickly into God's plan to destroy mankind, taken from chapters 9-10 of The Book of Enoch

And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant cries the voice of their cryings up to the gates of heaven. And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory standeth unto all the generations of the ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee.
The one thing that stood out to me in many of these type sections, is how the chain of command of things tends to go. Not just in the Book of Enoch but in other Jewish writings like it, we find how the Lord God has created and assigned angels to each task of universe management (sometimes it becomes so detailed as to sound pretty silly...but who knows). Here we find the cries of mankind being first brought to the attention of some of the key angels in God's command. Even the very angels who are said to have sinned with the women, as called the Watchers, because their job was to be mainly responsible for watching and protecting mankind on earth. now, the cries of mankind reach out to those above, and those named angels take the issue to the very throne of God.

The way they address the Lord is so amazing, and sends shivers down my spine to think of the reverance even they have when going into the presence of the Lord's throne. It doesn't say much for the way people today jump into the presence of the Lord in a haphazardly manner, as if he is just a good friend. Where is our reverence and awe in the Lord's presence? Well, not to digress down that avenue, let's continue

Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were preserved in heaven, which men were striving to learn: And Semjaza, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness. And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are wrought on the earth. And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.'
Here we find a basic overview of the events being stated before the Lord God (as if he didn't already know what happened...which they point out to him themselves).

There is always one question I think of whenever I read when people seek to explain away the idea of Genesis 6 teaching a joining of women with angels. The most common belief is that the "sons of God" in Genesis is just the godly line of Seth, and their intermarriage with the line of Cain. Sounds like a plausible explanation, but how would such a union bring forth giants? If both groups who were joined were human, why would giants come forth from it? Just a thought I always had.
Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.
So, this would explain why we go from Genesis 6 saying their was this union of sons of God and daughters of men, to all of a sudden God declaring the need for a flood to destroy mankind in such a quick span of a few verses. Seems kind of drastic to say Seth's kids intermarried with Cain's kids, and therefore the whole earth needed destroyed because of it. However, if this alternate history is true, then obviously a union of men and angels, and the revealing of secrets and sins beforehand unknown to men, would provide more than ample need for wiping out all of those effected by these teachings.

Now, we find descriptions of the judgment to befall these wicked angels, and we find language pretty much identical to that spoken of in the Greek Scriptures (as mentioned in previous parts of this series).
And again the Lord said to Raphael: Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.

And to Gabriel said the Lord: Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy the children of fornication and the children of the Watchers from amongst men and cause them to go forth: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they (i.e. their fathers) make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years.

And the Lord said unto Michael: Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations. And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because they have wronged mankind. Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: and it shall prove a blessing; the works of righteousness and truth shall be planted in truth and joy for evermore.
There is so much eschatological applications in this section, but I will refrain from going there ;-)

Hopefully, you can see that this alternate history not only fills gaps in the Genesis account, but makes better sense of many things in Genesis 6 and elsewhere. Again, I hope to uncover and discuss some of the objections to this view, but at this time do not have many in my own collection to choose from, so will eventually research and dig for more.
 

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
 

25 September 2008

The Book of Enoch (Pt 4) - Genesis 6 "Bonus Tracks"...?

The Sons of God lusted after the daughters of menWe've made a case so far that the Book of Enoch is a worthy read due to its historical context, and its acceptance by most in early church history, including the writers of the Greek Scriptures. So, I turn now to pulling tidbits from this book that are worth looking at for some of the interesting pieces they add to some "gaps" in Scripture.

As a follow up to our previous digression of the two parts dealing with the early church's understanding and acceptance of the "sons of God" of Genesis 6, I now turn to quote a portion of the Book of Enoch that offers additional information - filling in a back story to that brief mention in Genesis 6. This is information that the early church leaders knew and from where they probably received most of their understanding for their view we discussed in the previous two writings (found HERE). From the Book of Enoch:

And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations5 not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaq1el, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens.

And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.

And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, 'Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven. (Book of Enoch, Ch. 6-8)
So this section reveals the "behind the scenes" story of Genesis 6, as understood and promoted by the Jewish community at least as far back as a couple hundred years before Jesus came on the scene, and for the first few hundred years of early church history. The story continues with the response from heaven to the cries of mankind, and we'll look at that in upcoming sections.

What makes such a story so impossible to believe by most today? Why in more recent history has this view been utterly outcast from orthodox theological circles? Those are some of the questions I would like to look into, and will try to dig up some of the objections to this line of thinking to discuss in future segments.
 

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8