Recently I acquired a 19th century scrapbook.
The scrapbook contains a lot of truly interesting things. Newspaper articles, letters, pictures, concert advertisements, and toward the front there is a poem. This poem is called “The Love of Money” and speaks against money preachers and ministers of the 19th century. It begins with a quote from 1 Timothy 6: 10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows”.
In that text, Paul was stating that many had been led away from Truth and walked away from Christ and lost what they had and in doing so fell into a life of misery.
The poem is an insightful warning and one that is even still so relevant to our day, where so many people fall away from Truth and into error out of their love of money, and the pursuit of acceptance. As Bob Dylan once wrote; “money doesn’t talk, it swears“.
The old poem reads like so;
“MONEY ! oh money ! thy praises I sing,
Thou art my Savior, my God, and my King;
Tis for thee that I preach, and for thee that I pray, And make a collection twice each sabbath day.
I have candles, and all sorts of dresses to buy,
For I wish you know that my church is called high-
I don’t mean in structure of steeple or wall,
But so high that the Lord cannot reach it at all.
I have poor in my parish who need some relief –
I preach to their poverty, pray for their grief;
I send my box round to them, morning and night,
And hope they’ll remember “the poor widow’s mite.”
I gather my knowledge from wisdom’s great tree,
And the whole of my Trinity is £,s, and d ;
Yes, pounds, shillings, and pence, are all that I crave.
From my first step on earth to the brink of the grave.
When I’m laid low, and my body at rest,
Place a box on my grave, – ’tis my latest request,
That friends may all see who come for reflection,
I can’t rest in peace without a collection.
Money’s my creed, I’ll not pray without it,
My heaven is closed ‘gainst all those who doubt it;
For this is the essence of parson’s religion-
Come regular to church and be plucked like a pigeon.
My pay may be hundreds or thousands a year-
Double it, treble it, still I’ll be here
With my box or my bags, collecting your brass,
For I can’t do as Jesus did -ride on an ass.
I’ll have carriage and horses, and servants, and hall, –
I am not going to foot it, like Peter and Paul;
Neither like John – live on locust and honey, –
So out with your purses, and down with your money.
Fools sometimes ask what I do with this money !
They might just as well ask what bees do with honey !
I answer them all with a wink or a nod;
I keep three-birds myself, and give praises to God.
In the cold silent earth I may soon be laid low,
And sleep with the blest that went long ago;
I shall slumber in peace till the great resurrection,
Then be first to my legs to make a collection.”
Earlier this year I found an old Welsh book in Wales on Christian martyrs dating to 1813. The book itself covers the lives of William Tyndale, Martin Luther, George Marsh, John Bradford, Nicolas Ridley, and so forth and the pages appear in good condition for the age. However, a page that stood out to me contained an image of William Tyndale. The 16th century martyr and translator of the New Testament into English. The reason the print stood out is because Tyndale’s image had been ripped out.
Tyndale was a good Christian man and dedicated his life to the delivering of the Word of God to all English speaking people. The Church of his day rejected him, but his translation work laid the foundations of the Coverdale Bible, Bishops Bible, Geneva Bible and the King James Bible of 1611 and all significant English translations from 1535 to this day. 80-90% of the New Testament in the King James Bible has been shown to be the translation work of Tyndale.
The torn image seems to be deliberate? I say this because the book appears to have no damage elsewhere. However, even if the tare is coincidental, it still begs me to think upon how torn apart true Christians can be at times. Men like Tyndale held fast to the Bible and would not deny the text even in the face of danger, excommunication, imprisonment and execution. And how often has it taken place since his day that men and women who stand firm upon the text of the Bible are either rejected by the Church or ridiculed, mocked, insulted, and maligned by the world.
How true is that of our day.
I have recently returned to England from my visit to the Greek island of Crete.
Travelling thousands of miles across Biblical landscape is always insightful and my primary goal on Crete was to seek out the historic locations written about in Acts 27 and Paul’s letter to Titus.
My desire was to gain a more historic understanding of Titus 3: 5
“for this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting”.
2000 years ago Paul gave commission to Titus to appoint elders in every city on Crete. My aim in visiting Crete was to discover those ancient cities and gain an historic understanding of the work Titus did on Crete. Along the way standing face to face with the ancient law code of Gortyna, the mysteries of the Phaistos disc, ancient Minoan culture, and in some cases frustration at the sheer amount of unexcavated sites, leading to a general lack of information.
However, travelling over 100 miles across the island, visiting the ancient cities of Heraklion, Gortyna, Lasea and the spectacular mountains to port of ‘Kalio Limenes’ (fair havens) proved insightful to the Biblical narrative yet left many unanswered questions.
Part of the reason for this is that much of the history of ancient Crete has little connection to the New Testament era. Ancient cities such as Knossos have connections but they were long gone by the 1st century AD. But Gortyna and Kalio Limenes are key locations.
On Crete I filmed around 5 hours worth of footage for a documentary on the subject, battling with strong winds. I hope to complete that task in the distant future but in the meantime, I will continue in researching Paul and Titus’ work on Crete.
This week I went to see “Risen” at a cinema.
I am not an overt cinema goer, but I’m always interested in Biblical movies. For me, seeing visual depictions of the Bible on screen is often exciting and inspiring.
Recent so-called ‘Biblically inspired’ releases such as “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” have not even made it into my collection, but “Risen” certainly will. After all, the Bible contains the greatest stories ever written and the Biblical landscapes always look fantastic on film when the Bible is portrayed in a proper way.
For those who may not know, “Risen” is a new fictional movie inspired by the events surrounding the historic death and ‘resurrection of Christ’. It features a character named “Clavius” who is a Roman official, tired from battle, and summoned by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem to break the legs of the newly crucified Jesus and dispose of His body. By the time Clavius arrives at Golgotha, the crucified Jesus is already dead and Clavius instructs a Roman solder to thrust the spear in His side. The body of Jesus is taken by Nicodemus, as Scriptures tell, and a Roman seal is put upon His tomb and under the watch of Roman guards.
When rumours surface of a resurrection, Clavius is sent to take care of the situation and find His body and settle the matter before Caesar arrives in Jerusalem.
When the ‘body of Jesus’ cannot be found the investigation begins but things do not work out as both Pilate and Clavius had planned. What follows is a Biblically respectful film and one that, on the whole, is consistent with what the Gospels record.
Joseph Fiennes, who plays Clavius is a great actor of modern times. His portrayal of Martin Luther in the 2003 film “Luther” was excellent and fresh. Likewise, his portrayal of Clavius was also well played.
In my opinion, “Risen” is a good film, Biblically consistent and respectful. The film had a positive and distinct absence of mere entertainment based dramatics and over acting, and seemed to deliver a film based upon dialogue and confronting personalities within the narrative of the greatest story ever told. Clavius is human, the disciples are fun. Pilate is concerned and Mary Magdalene is “free”.
For me, I felt the overall direction of the film was not heavy, the sets were excellent and the costumes fitting. The soundtrack was appropriate and occasionally the script contained a sense of the type of things New Testament people might have said in everyday life.
In my opinion, “Risen” remained respectful to Scripture and the centrality of the resurrection story. It was careful to not over interpret the narrative. I enjoyed watching the whole film. I wasn’t overly impressed by some of the accents or the portrayal of Jesus, but I suspect the film makers chose to present Jesus in a more ‘regular’ sense than many other films, however, he maintained a distinct middle Eastern appeal.
I think all Christians and none Christians should go and see “Risen” and for believers, I would like to say this; please don’t be put off by the recent past releases of “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. Forget about them, “Risen” is not in the same league. And although “Risen” may not be one of the greatest Biblical movies ever made, it is still ten thousand times better than “Noah” movie and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” combined. And the sooner Hollywood learns from this and realizes that the Bible contains the greatest stories and narratives ever written, the sooner Hollywood can stop wasting its time producing mock Biblical films and the more Christians can cease from wasting their money on going to see them.
Cultural secularists in 21st century Britain have implemented radical changes upon the people of this nation.
More often than not, certain political and social reforms reflect the views of ‘the powers that be’ rather than the traditions and beliefs of the people of Britain.
More often than not we find that anyone who publicly speaks against certain winds of change and presents views that differ to the cultural mainstream are labelled “uneducated” fanatical” “fundamentalist” being victims of ‘ad hominen’ attacks, branded with the hot irons of the powers that be and the penetrating growth of media mind seeds.
The contradiction must be that ‘freedom of speech’ appears to have more flexibility in Britain with those who agree with cultural secularism than those who don’t.
Shamefully, the people of 21st century Britain are seeing more and more of this prejudice directed toward them. People are being emotionally blackmailed into keeping their opinions and beliefs silent, lest they cause offence. Even many within the state Church are falling into these deceptive political snares. Many ‘Anglican Churches’ are failing to reflect the beliefs and traditions of the Christian community or the Bible on the whole, presenting a more politically correct form of Christianity rather than an authentic position.
Many’ ‘Anglican’ churches fail to represent authentic Christianity in favor of religious and cultural liberalism. This decline has been forming for many years and we regularly hear ‘Anglican’ Bishops presenting positions and beliefs contrary to authentic Christianity.
This certainly the case with one of the current affronts to the Christian faith. On Sunday 14th February 2016, St Chrysostom’s church in Manchester, presented a play featuring a “transgender Jesus”. This play is called “The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of heaven”.
Despite the fact that this play is “blasphemous” and inconsistent with Christianity and “repugnant” to the Word of God and the 39 articles and Cannon Law, St Chrysostom’s had decided to re-interpret the cannon, and stage the play.
However, I’m not going to overstate the play and insult them, that’s just what they want. On the contrary, it is they who are attacking Jesus Christ and they would not do this with ‘Mohammad’. Thus, they pick on Christians knowing they can get away with it in this life. Yet insults to the Christian faith are nothing new and fallen Churches are nothing new. People have been insulting Jesus since He first came to earth and they will do so until He returns to judge them. Likewise, St Chrysostom’s Church is ‘liberal, inclusive and anglo-catholic’ so I don’t expect anything else from them however, St.Chrysostom’s claims to represent the Christian church and are part of the Anglican communion and the Parish of Manchester and have clearly broken the clear meaning of article C1X of Canon law (Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical) and its laws on plays being “consonant with sound doctrine”. A penalty for failing to observe canon law is the “removal from such office or membership as afore said” (Constitutions and Cannons Ecclesiastical 1X)
I am convinced this is but a glimpse into what is coming in the future. It is clear that somewhere behind the scenes, the ‘Anglican’ communion is being either forced or persuaded to bow her religious and political knees. But “there’s an East wind coming all the same”. The question is, what’s the bigger agenda?