Archive for June, 2010

Not there…

Posted: June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized


In the end, will it all have been worth the missed sports games, the absence of Daddy at the recital, the lost hours that might have been better spent merely being together to SHOW them “YOU MEAN MORE THAN ANYTHING TO ME!”? No, it won’t. Not if your actions tell them something different. And at that point “it’s my job” won’t be medicine enough, because all they will hear is “I had better things to do”. Quit your job if you have to, but don’t fail raise your kids. Jobs and careers don’t matter here; relationships and people do. Even more than that; family matters. And above that; God.

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Posted: June 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

Interesting and revealing…worth the length!

Exegesis on Luke 2:21

Posted: June 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

It was recently put to me in a Facebook conversation most of you probably saw from my post on June 6 at 8:13 am, to address some key doctrinal claims of Mormonism. It is my assertion that Mormonism is essentially not Christianity. In an effort to be completely transparent I will let all my readers know at the outset that I believe Mormonism to be a complete misrepresentation of the Christian Bible. Likewise, I believe the Book of Mormon, as well as supporting texts like the Pearl of Great Price, to be heretical and simply unhelpful and confusing to a correct understanding of the Christian Bible. All Mormon texts are decidedly NOT God’s word. The proceeding commentaries will be proof of my statements.
For the purpose of promoting understanding we must first define a few things. Within the bounds and context of this writing, when I refer to anything as Christian, I mean not Mormon. That is not to say I am also referring to all things not Mormon, but the distinct differences between Mormonism and Christianity. As is necessary with Biblical exegesis (drawing the meaning from scripture, as opposed to imposing meaning upon scripture), the reader must keep in mind the definitions I have presented above while reading, since it is I who determine the meaning of my words, not the reader. The same is true with scripture. It is the original writer who determines the meaning of the words written, not the reader. With that, let’s get started looking at the correct meaning and analysis of Luke 2:21.
Verse 21 of the second chapter of Luke actually starts back in Genesis 17:10 where God tells Abraham to circumcise all male children eight days or older, whether they were biological children, foreign born, or slaves. All males amongst the people of Israel were to be circumcised. In Luke 2:21 we see Jesus’ parents adhering to this command. The scripture says, “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child.” This calls attention to Jesus’ Jewish heritage and initially sets the stage for Jesus’ blamelessness. Even at this tender early age Jesus was being molded as the unblemished lamb. Had he not been circumcised, Jesus certainly would have been in violation of the covenant made between Abraham and Yahweh in Gen. 17:10. This covenant was given by command from God and therefore, any defiance of that command would carry the title of transgression. Transgression is called also by the name sin. We see here that even as early as eight days after his birth Jesus was sinless. He was certainly sinless for the eight days before this but here we come across evidence that Jesus remained sinless, as he did for the remainder of his life.
After this we see that scripture says “his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” There is a lot going on in this verse so stay with me as we discover the only possible meaning of this verse.”
First we read “his name was called JESUS.” This is the name Iesous which is Greek for Jesus, Joshua (referencing the Old Testament Joshua whose name in Hebrew [Yehosua] translates into English exactly the same way as the Greek Iesous), all of which are literally translated to English as “Yahweh saves.” It is no accident that this name appears throughout scripture. It is specifically given to Jesus as a name by the angel Gabriel who spoke to Mary as referenced in Luke 1:31. In this verse, God sends Gabriel to tell Mary to name her baby Jesus, or “Yahweh saves.” The angel would also be the announcer of the baby. Not the deliverer, but merely the announcer. By Gabriel’s own words recorded in Luke, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” By the full force of God’s power, Mary now had a child in her womb, having never experienced sexual activity. So we see here that God gave Mary a baby and gave her the name. We know that the name came before Jesus was placed in her womb because Gabriel gave her the name first; only after she asked “how shall this be” did Gabriel tell her how it would happen. Never are we told exactly when Mary became pregnant. The story in Luke immediately goes to Mary visiting Elizabeth, at which point it seems to be assumed that Mary is already pregnant. Either way it was certainly after the proclamation of the boy’s name.
So here we see the plain truth of these verses. God, through Gabriel, gave Mary the name Jesus for her child, as well as impregnated her, in the same manner as Elizabeth and Zachariah were given the name of their baby, though Zachariah was the biological father in that situation. The past tense nature of the “before he was conceived in the womb” statement simply refers to the pronunciation of Jesus’ name when given to Mary by Gabriel.
You may be asking yourself “what does this have to do with Mormon doctrine?” Our verse is a verse cited by a Mormon friend of mine to support the existence of spirit children, existent with god before the creation of the world. I pray I am accurate to the Mormon doctrine here as I would hate to misrepresent all Mormons. In this doctrine we find that all of us, including Jesus, were existent before creation, with god, as his spirit children. This would, in a way, make Jesus the half-brother of Satan, according to Mormon doctrine. I say according to Mormon doctrine because it is nowhere present in the Bible. Luke 2:21 is cited as one proof text of this, though there are supposedly more. The question here has to do with what exactly “before” means. Since the Greek form of this word (pro) simply carries a relative sense of time, as in “before I got in my car”, we all can see how this could be confusing if we were the ones determining the meaning of the words written here. Also, since “before” is non-descript in and of itself, we need to look somewhere else for what the author really means. When we read “before”, we logically ask “when?” The answer to this question is rightly found in the text itself, which is not limited to this verse, but the entire text of Luke. Within the construct of that context, it is entirely inappropriate and illogical to deduce that the author is saying “before creation.” The creation of the world at no time enters into this text as we have read thus far, so why would a reader assume that is what is meant by “before”? More plausible a meaning for “before” here would be “when Gabriel told Mary.” Even the grammar of this verse refers to the past tense as that time when the angel gave the name Jesus to Mary for her baby in verse 1:31. Let’s look at the grammar:
“which was so named”; who was so named? Jesus. Who named him? “the angel” (though it should be said that the context of verse 1:31 implies that God named the baby and the angel only delivered that name). When did the angel name him? “before he was conceived in the womb.” The angel of verse 1:31 did not give the name before creation, but right then and there, face to face with Mary, at that point in time, after creation. Mormons would mistakenly point out that God may have given the name before creation as 1 Peter 1:19-20 seems to imply. However, the statement of 1 Peter is something entirely different than what we have been dealing with here and is not contextual to this matter and therefore confuses the issue. If you are Mormon I will not expect you to take my word for it. As I have done here, I will also do with Jeremiah 1:5, as well as 1 Peter 1:19-20. So, as it was put to me…“you don’t have to agree, but if you sincerely want to learn more just be patient.”
What I have presented here is not my own words but an analysis of the words already in scripture. The truth is plain. If you are open-minded, and not bound by your own human tradition, you will see that the Mormon tradition absolutely CAN NOT be accurate as the text clearly does not support such imaginative interpretation. The book of Mormon is also not synergistic with the Bible in this area and therefore stands at odds with the revealed word of God. It logically follows that the Mormon texts ARE NOT the word of God, for God does not contradict himself.
It is also worth noting that what I have presented cannot be taken as “an” interpretation, as if to imply there is another way to apply these verses. This train of thought is exactly what leads to misinterpretation and the distorting of the truth. There is only one meaning, unless the author intended his words to have more than one meaning.
I am praying for the Mormons reading this right now. It is a frightening thing to come into the presence of the God of scripture. It is all the more frightening to know you have stood in stark contrast to His word. The truth of scripture comes with force and cannot be ignored. Study well, and know God.

Bigotry and Murder

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

I recently came across a gruesome and ghastly YouTube video that graphically shows the after math of abortion for both child and mother. I will spare my readers the horror of this video as the content almost made me vomit. In fact I am ashamed to say I did not, for I know attrocity far too well. Upon reflecting on what I had just seen and realizing the position of pro-choice, I was struck with a thought.

Let’s presume that a pregnant woman chooses to abort her “fetus”. Knowing what those phrases are meant to conceal I have a hard time realizing the disconnectedness it promotes but allow me to relate it to you in a way that will expose your own inconsistencies and sin if you hold to a pro-choice position.

Let’s now presume that YOU take a pair of BBQ tongs, or a hook of some sort, or merely some tool for grasping, and you gently slide it into your pregnant dog’s vagina with the intent and sole purpose of pulling out the puppy that is in her before he or she was full developed, or maybe already developed to the point of having legs, a tail, paws; perhaps moving, or not. Is the thing you pulled out of your dog another dog, or a fetus?

IS your heart racing? Mine is just from describing such horrifying thoughts.

I feel as though it would be pretty safe to assume that most in our society today would have a problem with the scenario described above. How revealing is this as to our contempt as a society for humanity? What a double standard! We should all be ashamed.

If you are a Christian I would challenge you to organize a ministry team armed with the sword of the word, and go stand outside of your local abortion clinic to intervene on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. Be a voice for the silent. A father to the fatherless. Stand in the gap, for they are many and wide in our country. Your faith is not about you! Get off your couch, get out of your computer chair and make a difference! Where are those Christians who are going to jail in this country for their faith? I know of only a handful across this country. God help us for being so comfortable.

It is a cultural reality that many consider the Bible to be a flawed collection of man-written books whose meaning and contents has been changed to suit the will and whim of man. It is because of this issue, combined with personal experience that most would not set foot into a church much less engage in meaningful dialogue with a dreaded Christian. Instead of the bearers, keepers, and announcers of truth, Christians have, by design, become the whipping boys of our modern pluralistic culture. The design of our culture is such that it turns propositional truth in to a fantasy, history into a fairytale.
Since we boldly claim to have direct access to ultimate truth in the pages of the Bible we must know for certain where it has come from if we are to preserve that truth with any effectiveness. In an attempt to do exactly that, this will be a brief description of the process by which the Bible we hold in our hands today came to be. While some would tell a story about the many books written as gospels that are not included in the modern day Bible, or the story about how the council of Nicea (A.D. 325) was convened to “write” the Bible (actually convened to address Arianism) , these stories are by no means supported by any evidence that would stand up to serious inquiry.
So as not to perpetuate more stereotypes, let us start with the apostolic period. This period spans the entire first century on into the second, though not completing the second. During this time all the books of the New Testament (NT) were already in existence. This is evidenced by the fact that there are references to other books of the NT within the pages of NT books that are verifiably dated to the first century. If these books make reference of the other NT books, it is safe therefore to assume that the authors couldn’t have quoted those books had they not existed. Also, it is important to point out that the apostles themselves, in their writing, used the heading “scripture” when talking about Deuteronomy as well as Luke, Psalms as well as Ephesians, etc. The apostles own testimony substantiates the ascription of the title of scripture to at least the gospels, but perhaps more likely the entire NT writings as we know them today. This is significant because it shows that the apostles themselves held certain NT writings to be as authoritative as the Old Testament (OT) scriptures. This was the beginning of the Canon of NT scripture.
Even earlier than this (A.D. 95) was a letter from Clement of Rome to the Christians in Corinth on behalf of the Roman Christians. There is evidence that suggests Clement was familiar with, and sometimes quoted, Mark, Luke, Hebrews, Romans, Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, and Ephesians. The application of this finds its worth in modern apologetics to counter the claim that the Bible was written too long after the events it describes to be at all accurate. We have sufficient evidence to reasonably prove that these scriptures were penned perhaps even when Jesus was alive, if not then certainly by eye witnesses and/or within one generation. There is no other ancient document that can even remotely claim such a thing.
From the apostolic period we see the upholding of the Gospels as authoritative scripture, and perhaps the epistles as well. The next period rounds out the second century and moves almost half way into the third. We enter this period with the Canon of the Gospels firmly settled amongst the churches as well as the epistles and Acts; here referent to Irenaeus who considered all these just as much scripture as the OT. Testimony of Clement and Irenaeus represents the wide spread acceptance of these books as scripture, encompassing eastern and western kingdoms. It is not because of these men that the Canon was determined, but they were simply the most vocal ones talking about what was already happening. More and more people were accepting these books as authoritative. Irenaeus and Clement simply said out loud what everyone else was demonstrating. The most empirical evidence available testifying to what was considered Canon in this period is represented in the Muratorian Fragment. In this document we have a list encompassing the Gospels, Acts, all the Pauline epistles, Apocalypse (Revelation), 1 and 2 John, and Jude. This is important because it gives us a snap-shot of sorts of the Canon at the close of the second century.
As we progress through the centuries there is slower movement and less to tell about by means of major developments because the bulk of scripture had already been affirmed as Canonical. I would be remiss in my exposition here if I did not mention Origen. Although he was the most prolific figure of the third century in the context of the third century church, he did not further the development of the Canon, suffice to say that he did affirm, almost exactly, what was already considered authoritative. Through such notable figures as Dionysius, Cyprian, and Eusebius, what was considered scripture had not changed very much at all and was essentially the same books as Origen listed. It was not until Athanasius (A.D. 367) that we see the affirmation of all 27 books of our modern day NT, though there was much debate over the apocalypse. How could there not be debate over a book of such a nature as Revelation.
The Council of Carthage convened at the end of the fourth century and presented a list of, now declared to be, Canonical books of the NT. Thereafter was some divergence between east and west as to what was accepted as scripture but the influence of Constantine in the east, and Jerome/Augustine in the west, using different methods, largely settled the matter for both regions.
So what we see here is a gradual recognition, even from the beginning, of the entirety of scripture being touted as such, at least by Christians, if not by religious figure heads as well. The authoring of these books, therefore, seems to be the criteria of consideration, and the application the judge. As these books and letters were written they were added, one by one to the Canon of scripture. “Let it suffice to say that, from the evidence of the fragments which alone have been preserved to us of the Christian writings of that very early time, it appears that from the beginning of the second century a collection of “New Books”, called the “Gospel and Apostles”, was already a part of the “Oracles” of God, or “Scriptures”, or the “Holy Books” or “Bible”.” It seems, therefore, that the trouble with the development of the Canon was that of persecution and time. To explain that, let us think of the context surrounding all this empirical history.
Christianity, no matter how beloved or condemned, has always been, more or less, persecuted. Within that context we see untrained yet faithful believers laboriously working to painstakingly copy the volumes of text any one church may possess so as to bring other letters of verifiable apostolic origin to another church, perhaps their home church. I have stated above, essentially that the books of the Bible as we have them today were all in existence by the end of the first century, however they existed in different areas. As believers traveled amongst churches, such as we see with Paul’s missionary journeys, they also copied whichever letters and/or books they did not yet possess. In this way, the rapid, uncontrolled dispersal of God’s message of salvation was guaranteed in such a way as to ensure its sincerity and adherence to the originals. As a side note, the mistakes we observe in these copies are therefore understandable given the context. So if we approach this from a multifaceted view, we can see how the entire testimony of NT scripture, as we have in our modern day Bibles, was present in the first century and all books were considered, at different locations, to be authoritative. Therefore, the development and agreement upon what is scripture becomes merely a function of time and location. As the documents spread, along with corresponding verification of authenticity, the scriptures as we know them took shape.
Just as it is observed in the issue of transmission of the text of scripture, there is one story the world tells, and then there is the plain empirical truth. There is the story of how the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) convened to settle the Canon and some would say “write” the scriptures. There is also the story of how all these other gospels were left out simply because they did not represent convenience to the Council that defined the Canon (most will say Nicea), while the rest that spoke to the Council members’ pet motivations were kept. We can see how this is a creation of modern speculation and a withholding of truth. Just as some will say, in regards to transmission of the text, that the Bible has been changed far too much and those changes have been far too drastic for it ever to be seriously considered reliable. This is a more complex lie but a lie none-the-less. The fact that there was never any one person in control of even a fraction of the existent Bible refutes that claim at the outset. Likewise, the claim that any one Council, or fallible, man-made institution or system somehow determined what was God’s word and what was not, is utterly untrue. The truth is evident. The documents we know to be modern scripture existed at the same time, though in different locals, and were credited with the same authority: God’s.
It is evident to me that in all things authoritative, God does not use people to decide on anything. God did not let people determine who would get the scriptures, nor did he let people determine what was going to be considered scripture. In a very real sense, through circumstance, God worked his creation in such a way that his word was made inescapably sacred.
Part of believing is obedience. If we can trace the Canon of God’s word back to any human authority to choose, then there is essentially no enduring call to obedience, and certainly no conviction of perseverance of such obedience. In God’s wisdom He has beautifully orchestrated our role in his design, aptly as audience members. We can, by observing history, view God’s character. We are merely objects of His work and recipients of His grace if we believe.

Bibliography
http://www.bible-researcher.com/warfield2.html accessed on 3 June 2010
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/canon.html accessed on 4 June 2010
http://bible.org/question/how-did-we-get-our-bible-who-wrote-it-and-who-decided-what-order-put-it accessed on 3 June 2010
Jonathan Hill, Handbook to the History of Christianity (Lion Publishing Plc., England 2006) 80