Archive for January, 2014
CNN: Noah’s Ark discovery in the British Museum 2014
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Biblical archaeology, The Bible on January 31, 2014
In an article on CCN, it is reported that Irving Finkel, a British Scholar has discovered a 4,000-year old tablet from Iraq which contains an account similar to the Mosaic account of Noah’s Ark.
Link to CNN article; http://newday.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/28/noahs-ark-discovery-raises-flood-of-questions/
Revelation TV. Predestination debate: James White & Michael Brown
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Biblical Scholarship on January 24, 2014
On Friday 24th January from 9pm, Revelation TV, Dr James White and Dr Michael Brown will be in debate concerning the most excellent topic of Predestination.
This debate has raged primarily since the 16th century through the interpretation of predestination by John Calvin and still continues to this day. However, in any debate it is important for the listener, reader, or viewer to understand the doctrine first and to listen carefully to both sides of the argument.
I am presently writing a book on this very subject, so I am very interested in the subject.
It may be helpful firstly to recognize some points before joining the debate;
- The doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is an interpretation of Biblical texts which claims that God has predetermined the salvation of particular people whom He has revealed to be His elect. That through the cross of Christ, God has chosen and effectively redeemed a people for Himself. A people of whom their effectual salvation does not depend upon the ‘free choice’ of man, but the elective purposes of God. In other words, the elect are not elect because they believe, they believe because they are elect.
- The Bible communicates ‘Predestination’ as something predetermined by God.
- The early Church fathers (1st -3rd centuries) upheld the freedom of human choice.
- St Augustine (354-430 AD) was probably one of the earliest Theologians to deny the doctrine of ‘Free Will’.
- During the 16th century reformation, most reformers denied the doctrine of ‘Free Will’. This was affirmed by Martin Luther and also the ’39 articles’ of the Church of England.
- The Calvinistic interpretation of ‘Predestination’ is generally associated with the Theological position and scriptural interpretation of John Calvin (1509-1564).
- The Arminian interpretation of ‘Predestination’ is generally associated with the Theological position and scriptural interpretation of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609).
- If the Calvinistic doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is true, the doctrine of ‘Free Will’ must be seen as untrue or denied.
- If the Arminian doctrine of ‘Predestination’ is true, the doctrine of ‘Free Will’ or ‘Free Choice’ must be upheld.
I personally regard John Calvin as one of the finest Theologians known to church history. I also find Jacobus Arminus’s works of great worth. However, I also recognize that people are only human and the Bible is like a piece of wax, it can be interpreted or molded this way or that.
The question remains; are these positions true or important? If they are true, then surely they are most important. If they are wrong, then surely it is important to show why. What do you think?
Were the four Gospels eye witness testimony?
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Biblical archaeology, Biblical Scholarship, The Bible on January 13, 2014
One common notion people are presented with today is the claim that scholars now know the four Gospels of the New Testament were not written by eye witnesses or people who actually knew Jesus of Nazareth.
This type of claim is quite a common place today. We read it in books, hear it on the BBC radio, see and hear it on television and in countless documentaries. Likewise within the world of scholarship I continuously run into a head on collision with this argument by people who, when it is all said and done, know more about this argument than the narratives themselves.
One problem I see is that many of the people who make these claims do not make them off their own back, neither did they originate them. The claims themselves go back quite a while to the dawn of modern scholarship and one can easily find the early church disputing who wrote the Gospels.
In the 19th century, a fine Biblical commentator and Anglican Bishop of Liverpool J. C. Ryle wrote concerning this issue in his exposition of John 5: 2 and said the following;
“These words, it is thought, show that Jerusalem was yet standing, and not taken and destroyed by the Romans, when John wrote his Gospel. Otherwise, it is argued, he would have said, “There was at Jerusalem.”. J. C. Ryle. (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. Volume 3. P 269)
At the time when Ryle wrote this there was no evidence for the exact location of this pool, but it was discovered in the 19th century and now sits within the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. Thus, demonstrating that although evidence for this pool had not been found until around nineteen hundred years or so after the text was written, the Bible was correct all along. And today it is widely recognised and visitors to Jerusalem can visit the site.
The text of John 5: 2 reads like so; “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market (or pool) a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Beth-es-da, having five porches”.
In this text John is clearly communicating that, not only was John writing for Gentiles and not Jews, which confirms the position of Eusebius in his ecclesiastical history that John wrote this Gospel from Ephesus to expand on things not previously written by Matthew and Mark, but that he wrote in the way that is communicating that Jerusalem was still standing at the time.
There is ample evidence that John had already read Matthew, Mark and Luke by the time he was to write his Gospel and noticed that there was other points concerning Jesus’ life that the Synoptic writers did not mention. For this reason, John wrote concerning the final year of Jesus’ ministry. This is just one of many reasons to claim historically and textually that the Gospels were written by eye witnesses and based upon eye witness testimonies.
Eusebius claimed Irenaeus wrote in Against Heresies, 111.1.2 that Matthew published his Gospel first in the Hebrew tongue and Mark recorded the words of Peter from his preaching. He connects Luke’s Gospel to Paul, which could be confirmed by Luke’s opening passage in his Gospel. (Eusubius. The History of the Church. 8)
Thus, if Eusebius was correct, then this places the date of authorship for Matthew and Mark to well before AD 50’s and not anywhere the proposed dates that modern academic communities claim.
From my own research into the Gospels, I have found them to date no later than this era, even as early as AD 30’s for Matthew and as late as AD 60 for Luke. The problem is that modern scholars claim that Matthew could not have been written prior to the events of AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem, since they think it not plausible that Jesus could have prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem as He did. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew must have been written after these events. The problem then grows because people would rather believe the negative suggestion rather than think and research for themselves. People are often fooled into thinking that they are researching something when in reality all they are doing is reading other peoples opinions.
Thus, John 5: 2 is just one of many Biblical texts which leave me wondering what on earth so many of these modern scholars are thinking when they date the gospels? What are they up to? I suspect it is a legal game like those in a court of law who look for contradictions in eye witness accounts, thus if they find them, they argue the texts as void.
But I have not found contradictions in the Gospels, the only contradictions I find are the interpretations of those passages by Western thinkers. The Gospels and the entire Bible was written by Jewish people, and when it is all said and done, the critics for the most part, know very little of ancient Judaism.
But concerning John 5: 2, the problem with the academic communities dating methods for the Gospels is that they are not consistent when one understands that John was here stating the sheep gate or market was still standing at the time of his composition. But the problem is, if this text was written when these scholars claim it was then to anyone who knows what the text claims, it is impossible to believe them. The reason being that the sheep gate or market in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 by prince Titus. Thus, internal evidence from John’s Gospel gives us a composition date of AD 50’s at the very latest. And examples like this can be found throughout the Gospels and the New Testament.
Thus, concerning John’s Gospel, J. C. Ryle was certainly correct and he was not afraid or fooled into believing that because scholars say so, it must be true. He had the character and strength enough to disagree with what scholars and critics of his day claimed. Ryle let the text speak for itself and then explored it, that is what makes his expository thoughts on the Gospels so good. But the problem which happens today is that scholars such as Francesca Stravrakopoulou often make wild assumptions concerning the Bible and then publishes what she thinks the text is saying and then judges it according to that thinking. But Francesca Stravrakopoulou is not original in her thinking and neither is she convincing, in fact she in a long line of scholars who often leave both myself and others baffled at their claims.
People are swift to believe the documentary hypothesis of modern scholars, yet they are not so swift to research the actual text for themselves. If they were, the world would be full of people who do not agree with the speculative claims of the academic communities.
In this, I never fail to tire at hearing them, especially when the single minded media barons give those people all the air time. not singularly as an issue of truth or the quest for truth, but something far more earthly and possessive. We are living in a time where all but the sinful depraved nature of man is uncertain. Our age lacks identity and absolutes. Scientists are single minded in presenting their ideas alongside Theology and history, as though everything should be judged scientifically. Regardless of the fact that science merely means ‘knowledge’ people think of science as some kind of test tube analysis, which when it is all said and done is not a method used to judge history.
A person cannot put a historical document in a test tube and measure it according the that method, you have to find some other way of testing things. Each method is an interpretation only and not factual.
For example, if I were to measure the Gospels, I would look at them internally and measure their claims. I would never go along with what state education claims, but would measure the claims according to what I know. For this reason, I absolutely disagree with many claims made by modern scholars who take a text, a verse, a claim, a science, a majority vote and so one and measure the texts through those eyes. Thus, whatever one makes of that, it is certainly not the method used by the early church through to the reformation and beyond, where devotion and Theological insight must first be established in order to see the text clearly. In other words, a person cannot measure a text and judge it if they have failed to understand what the text is saying.
Let us take Biblical archaeology for example; if I go to Jerusalem, I can find plenty of evidence for the Bible there, the reason being, because that is the central location for the majority of Biblical events. So if I go and search for evidence of King Solomon’s temple in Babylon, I’m not going to find very much, but if I first look at what the text says, interpret it correctly, then see where the Biblical narrative is leading me, I will find it. I suppose what I am saying is that people should first find out what the Bible is saying before they critique it.
Steven Weinberg and the scientific agenda to destroy religion
Posted by simon peter sutherland in new atheism, Science and evolution on January 9, 2014
“I think the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief; and anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization” Steven Weinberg.
(Beyond belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival. 5 November 2006)
The above words, can and do display a form of scientific totalitarianism. I say this because any attempt to destroy some system of belief or choice of persons, is a denial of rights. I do not want religion to be weakened or destroyed. Many of us like religion and the things it represents and I for one am not going to be told whether or not I can live in a world that has no beliefs in providence, design or meaning.
Perhaps it is strange that Weinberg’s words are wrapped up in a claim of ‘Reason’ when it is nothing of the kind! If it were a claim to reason, he would not try to inspire people to go out into the world and weaken religion. Even Jesus in His great commission never inspired other systems of thought to be destroyed but merely left alone, that is if the hearers rejected His Truth.
I think Weinberg’s words clearly present manifestations of an organised agenda to replace ‘religion’ with some form of ‘science’ or so called science, at least the familiar science which people lay hold of ‘evolution Theory’. Using it, to replace God or Church.
I think secularism is just another word for bigotry against Christianity.
It is a historical fact that the Christian church or at least the Roman Catholic church has many enemies from the past. There is a certain branch of ‘science’ that has been at war with the Christian church since the 16th century. In that context, science is at war with religion. And as each century has passed, each generation has manifested this war in different forms.
Today we have this undercurrent movement which is covertly using Darwin’s theory to destroy the Christian church, primarily true Christians who believe the Word of God which these people tread upon. When I say true Christians I mean those who believe everything that Jesus and His Word communicate. It is they whom these so-called scientists hate.
I have no doubt whatsoever that this huge organisation (which may have no name) has an agenda to destroy Christianity. I have no doubt either that they are using every medium possible, every critical line of scholarship, archaeology, entertainment and every celebrity face they can conjure up to do this dirty work.
Evidence in their eyes is just another way of saying ‘we have proven you wrong’. But the problem is that when an agenda is presented before evidence or ‘science’ whatever that term may define, then it puts the finds of this certain ‘science’ in question? For example; when an artifact is discovered, it must be interpreted, but when three or four scholars explore the artifact, one can fine that they rarely agree on its interpretation.
But this is not the case with evolutionary scientists. They agree with each other and stand together like sheep going to be sheered. It reminds me of Nazi Germany or some other totalitarian movement which covertly gains power yet turns when it has it . It is a suspect movement to say the least, rather like a verbal war. Especially when certain establishments within ‘science’ or a scientific community are so clearly at war with religion?
A point I think that is worthy of consideration is that science is not at war with religion or the Bible, but rather it is the successors of the 19th century evolutionists through to the modern 21st century evolutionary scientists who are both openly and covertly at war with God and His book. They are the ones who are treading upon the Bible with their muddy boots and are using the dirt of the earth in their smear campaign.
However, the facts themselves prove that ‘science’ should not be at war with religion or Christianity in any way and that outside of Dawkins’ theories of the retina and so forth, life itself spells out intelligent design. Thus, the facts are on our side, but not when the facts are in the hands of modern orthodox evolutionary scientists and their hypothetical theories.
It is suspect and cultish to say the least when any organisation agrees consistently with itself and its teachers and when any person from within begins to disagree with them or progresses into theism or Creationism by seeing the evidence of God scientifically, they are excommunicated from the so-called academic or scientific community and denied the role of being a scientist, thus, the followers of these communities are preprogrammed or brainwashed against them.
But so many arguments presented, including Richard Dawkins’ retina argument, are designed, presented and researched with the aim of refuting ‘Creationism’. Which when it is all said and done, any of us could assemble the matter of fact and twist the facts according to that agenda. People begin to twist facts to suite theories and not theories to suite facts.
Thus, when an agenda is manifested and people are in the lab, what could happen when DNA is at the hands of evolutionary scientists who have set themselves up to “weaken religion”. No one can contradict them, even within the scientific community, since, I reiterate if anyone moves away from evolutionary science and sees evidence of creation, that person is told to reject that notion and if they do not, their funding is shut off and they are cast out of that establishment.
Thus, beyond the surface and public face of evolutionary science, the witnesses and facts only point to one thing; evolutionary science is not open even remotely to the concept of creation and neither does it remotely consider the possibility that Moses got it right. It is clear that they have brainwashed a generation of young and middle age people into thinking as they want them to think. They have made their creed and allegiance and if anyone rejects it, they are no longer part of that community.
The question is; do these people really believe that their fantasies of destroying Christianity will make the world a better place? That if they succeed in reducing the prominence of the Christian church, that a fundamentalist intolerant religion will not step in its place and reap the rewards?
Do they really believe that men in their depraved hearts will walk hand in hand in peace? If so, then they are the ones guilty of believing in fairy tales.