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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Detour, Part 5 - Jesus of Nazareth and Statistical Improbabilities

Jesus of Nazareth

How many prophecies surrounding Jesus of Nazareth do you think there are in the Old Testament? 10? 20? 50? 100?

Not even close. There are in fact more than 60 major prophecies surrounding the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. But even this number falls short of the more than 300 total prophecies connected to the figure of Christ Jesus, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach. Over 300 hundred.

Of the 60+ major prophesies, these can be divided into the following categories, concerning: His birth; His nature; His ministry; His death-- fulfilled in a single day; and the events that would follow after His burial.

As to His Birth, He would be born the "Seed of Woman" and would "bruise" or "crush" the Serpent's "head." He would be born of a Virgin. He name would be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. He would be of the Seed of Abraham. The Seed of Isaac. From the tribe of Judah. Of the House of David. Preceded by a messenger; the birth of John. He would be born in Bethlehem. His birth would be welcomed by the blood of innocents; Rachel crying for her children.

Concerning His Nature, His pre-existence; from everlasting. He would be called Lord. Immanuel (God with us). He would be a prophet. A priest. A judge. A king.

Concerning His Ministry, He would begin in Galilee. He would perform miracles. Would teach in parables. He would enter the temple. Enter Jerusalem on a donkey. He would be a "stone of stumbling" to the Jews. A "light" to the Gentiles.

Concerning His death in a single day, He would be betrayed by a friend. Sold for 30 pieces of silver. The money would be thrown in the temple. And used to buy a potters field. He would be forsaken by his disciples. Accused by false witnesses. Stand silent before His accusers. He would be wounded and bruised. Smitten and spit upon. Mocked. Fall under the cross. His hands and feet would be pierced. Crucified with thieves. He would make intercession for His persecutors. He would be rejected by His own people. Hated without cause. His friends would stand afar off. People would shake their heads. He would be stared at, gawked at. His garments would be parted and lots would be cast for them. He would suffer thirst. Gall and vinegar would be offered to Him in place of water. He would cry out, "Why have You forsaken me?" He would commit His spirit to God. Not a single bone would be broken. But His heart would be. His side would be pierced. Darkness would cover the land. He would be buried in a rich man's tomb.

As to the events that would follow His death, He would take His life up again after three days-- The Resurrection. He would ascend into Heaven. He would be seated at the Right Hand of God. And He would return again so that where He is, we might be also.


Statistical Improbabilities

Last time I checked we were in Vegas looking at the roulette wheel and the hydrogen atom, so let's pick it up again from there.

Now, if the universe was comprised of only hydrogen then the "known" universe would be far far larger than what it's currently perceived to be. FAR larger. And realizing this we must also realize that 1079 does not describe size, as I've stated earlier, but rather quantity... Namely the quantity of electrons contained within the whole of the known universe. Consequently if the universe contained only Radium, whose atomic structure includes 88 electrons, the known universe would be much much smaller. MUCH smaller.

So what are the odds that you or I could, in a single try, pick out one single specific electron? The one that has written on it's side, "Congratulations! You're a Winner!"-- Assuming of course that we had microscopes powerful enough to actually read such writing --what would the odds be of performing such a feat? I can only imagine such a number, but I would bet it would be easier to win a multi-million dollar lottery in 10 consecutive tries, using the very same numbers.

Peter Stoner, in his book "Science Speaks" (1958, Moody Press. ISBN: 0802476309 -- out of print), applying the modern science of probability to just eight ( 8 ) messianic prophecies; specifically [1] Born in Bethlehem, [2] Preceded by a messenger, [3] Enter jerusalem on a donkey, [4] Betrayed by a friend, [5] Sold for 30 pieces of silver; the price of a slave, [6] The money thrown 'to the potter' in the House of God, [7] Silent before His accusers, and [8] Executed by crucifixion with thieves, puts the odds of one man fulfilling all 8, to the letter, at 1 in 1017. Considering there are more than 300 total prophecies surrounding the biblical messiah, what are the odds that one man would fulfill every single one? Too staggering a number to comprehend? What about the 60+ major prophecies? Stoner goes on to calculate the odds of one man fulfilling just 48 of these at 1 in 10157... Just one zero shy of twice 1079

I'd wager that the bookmakers in Las Vegas would give better odds to one man finding that single electron with the congratulatory message. FAR better odds. To think that the odds of one man fulfilling all of these prophecies is tremendously greater than the sum total of every electron in the known universe, is beyond comprehension.

But this whole discussion of electrons and Vegas odds is profitless, without a willingness to accept the figures I've given. It requires no small measure of intellectual honesty, because this is why the Bible has endured. Not because of diligent scribes, and translators, and holy men of God, but rather, because of God Himself, and the efficacy of His word... His Word of honor, that what He says WILL happen, will indeed happen. Remember, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" --Num 23:19

Fulfilled prophecy is the surest sign of the Bible's truthfulness, and reliability. No other book in history can boast what the Bible can; not the Qur'an, not the Bhagavad gita, not the Book of Mormon... NO other book in all of history can compare to God's Holy Word.



Next:
Detour, Part 6 - Types and Antitypes

Previously:
In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit B
In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit A
Detour, Part 4 - Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines
Interlude No.1
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Friday, April 28, 2006

In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit B















There's a game in Vegas they like to call Roulette,
and it's a near perfect visual-aid for describing atomic structure.

The dealer spins the wheel in one direction, and flings a little white ball in the opposite direction... Place your bets! Now think of that little white ball as a single electron, and the roulette wheel becomes very much like the hydrogen atom... only much, much bigger: there is a center, and there is a body that moves about that center. The difference, however, is that people don't bet on the spinning of electrons, or mix roulette wheels with oxygen to make cool and refreshing drinks.

The Hydrogen atom is made up of one proton and one electron. The proton, or nucleus, sits still while the electron constantly spins around it. The centrifugal force of the spinning electron keeps the two particles from colliding with each other much as the earth's rotation keeps it from plunging into the sun.

And we're just talking about Hydrogen here. Every other element has a different structure, with more electrons spinning about their nucleus'. The point is, electrons are very small; smaller, in fact, than the whole of the atom itself... and smaller than protons.

So, when we consider that electrons are smaller than protons [and what does it really matter when the atom itself is so invisibly small to begin with?] we begin to get a clearer picture of 1079.

One would think that with electrons being so very, very, tiniest-fraction-of-a-scintilla to the square root of an iota's tiniest-est small, that 1079 wouldn't take up a whole lot of space. And yet all these electrons take up all the known "space" in the known universe.

How's that for 1079 ? Is it big enough for you yet?



Next:
Detour, Part 5 - Jesus of Nazareth and Statistical Impossibilities

Previously:
In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit A
Detour, Part 4 - Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines
Interlude No.1
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit A

Here's something to think about; a number I'd like to get into your head....

                    1079

That's 10 to the 79th power... A "10" with 79 Zeros behind it.

A Million has 6 Zeros...
1,000,000

A Billion has 9 Zeros...
1,000,000,000

A Trillion has 12 Zeros...
1,000,000,000,000

A Quadrillion has 15 Zeros...
1,000,000,000,000,000

A Quintillion has 18 Zeros...
1,000,000,000,000,000,000

Now, one-quintillion is a very large number. Very. And we've only identified a 1 with 18 zeros behind it. But what do you call a number that looks like this?

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000


To clarify: One-billion is equal to one-thousand millions. One-trillion is equal to one-thousand billions. One-quadrillion is equal to one-thousand trillions.... and so on, and so forth.

So what do you call a number with 79 zeros behind it? "Big" seems wholly inadequate, though it is in fact very very big. It's more like "stupendously huge, very big, big slammin' huge!" If it could be poured from a spigot it would fill this planet to overflowing for billions, if not trillions, and gazillions of years.

So what's your point, Eric? What's so important about 1079 ?

It is the "estimated" number of electrons in the entire "known" universe. And considering that we know very little about the universe it's safe to say that number is a conservative estimate at best.

More to come.



Next:
In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit B

Previously:
Detour, Part 4 - Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines
Interlude No.1
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Books I Want to Read...

... but can't, at present, afford:

The Final Theory: Rethinking Our Scientific Legacy
by Mark McCutcheon


Curious folks can check out chapter topics, and samples here


Here's more

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Despite news of terrorist bombings...

...and the desire of many muslim nations to see her destroyed, the safest place for a Jew to be, in light of antisemitism in the world today, is Israel.

God is alive and well in Israel, and in His word; violence and misery notwithstanding.


Here's more

Church Search

I paid a visit this past sunday to Metro Church Ministries. It was smallish, and seemingly-- judging from the sign out front --nondenominational, and I knew someone who claimed membership there. He's still there.

There was nothing wrong with the message; it was as Baptist as any baptist preacher I have heard. But there was tongues... and dancing.

As to tongues:

1-- It's scriptural, yet it is given by the Holy Spirit for the enlargement of the Church; the Bride of Christ.

2-- It is not-- as I've heard some call it --the "Unknown Tongue," or the "Heavenly Language." We can argue that point later. 1 Cor 12:10 speaks of...

"...divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues;"

Kinds of tongues, as in "many different," as in German, Korean, Polynesian, Vietnamese... Kinds of tongues.

1 Cor 14 however, does speak of the proper use of an 'unknown' tongue...

"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him.... He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself..."

It is for self-edification.

Tongues in preaching is always described as a means by which those hearing the word being preached might understand the message; for with the use of this gift, language ceases to be a barrier to understanding.

3-- Paul clearly admonished the Church about its use, offering guidelines as to when, where and how.


As to Dancing:

1-- It looked silly, and was distracting. Nor can I find anything scriptural to back up its use, unless we look to David's precessional dance before the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6:14-16, but please note the reaction of others to David's leaping and dancing... in verse 16 it says,

"...Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart."


2-- It looked silly.


But as to the Message:

No flies on Frank here. The pastor was on target.


What I came away with:

From Mark 2:1-12... The man sick of the Palsy was not healed because of any faith he had, but because of the faith of them that carried him and lowered him through the roof that they might get their friend to Jesus. God isn't limited by our faith or lack thereof. Whether or not we are healed has little bearing on the amount of faith we have. The faith of others can bring healing, even when our faith has gone bone-dry.


Here's more

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On Rhetoric -- A Personal Observation

The art of Rhetoric as it is practiced by today's political and media elite, is a pale imitation of what the art was once purported to be; and a false god if ever there was one. Today very few practitioners whose careers depend on the effective use of rhetoric, actually employ it. It is called rhetoric, but it is not the product of any one speaker's original thought, it is groupspeak-- parrots parroting platitudes and prophesies. And like parrots, sometimes it's necessary to throw a towel over the cage.

There are a few obvious exceptions -- exceptions no one can honestly deny... Victor Davis Hanson. William F. Buckley. Christopher Hitchens. Ann Coulter. That last one, I know, will cause a few eyebrows to rise up in protest. But seriously, Miss Coulter's use of language and wit, is matched by only a very select few. Charles Spurgeon was one such Master of Rhetoric. Ben Stein, though somewhat droll in his delivery is another name worthy of entrance to that august body of orators. Don't see your favorite here? I'm willing to entertain nominations to this short list of "Masters of the art of Rhetoric."

98% of ALL politicians fail miserably the original thought test. It often seems that both Democrats and Republicans get together in separate undisclosed locations, and with the use of focus groups and a little game I like to call "Barnstorming for Banalities," they each come up with idiot-proof phraseologies that will win them public support for whatever crisis du jour they each succeed in adding to the political menu. The worst part is, the Media buys into it, parroting the parrots, and creating in the minds of sheep a picture that is not only untrue, but deceitfully so.

Yeah, I guess you could say I'm soured on Media and politics-- it's become so overwhelming. And though I still like who I like, I'm so very tired of the whole News-Cycle Merry-go-Round.

Blogging is not easy. Especially when you put too much of yourself into it.


Here's more

Two Articles...

One to Inflame Passions.....
Doug Giles says, "A Christian can be a Christian or a Liberal, but not both."

One to Offer Hope.....
Hal Lindsey says, Buckle you chin-straps. It's T-Minus "even at the door," and counting."


Here's more

Detour, Part 4 - Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines

Rhetoric is the art of communication. Or more precisely...

"Rhetoric is the master art of the Trivium, for it presupposes and makes use of grammar and logic; it is the art of communicating through symbols ideas about reality... rhetoric aims for effectiveness rather than correctness, it deals not only with the paragraph and the whole composition but also with the word and the sentence, for it prescribes that diction be clear and appropriate and that sentences be varied in structure and rhythm."
Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.S., Ph.D.
Author of The Trivium -- The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric


Rhetoric, therefore, is the art of using language effectively. Every word has specific purpose, specific placement, and specific meaning in context of the whole of a sentence, the whole of a paragraph, the whole of a composition. No word is ever used frivolously.

Scripture follows this pattern beautifully. Often repetitive, but repetitive for clarity's sake, no line of scripture is frivolous... God isn't in the habit of being overly talkative; He says what needs saying, says what He means, and means what He says. In other words, "Every word in every verse has purpose."

This is certainly true of the Textus Receptus, in the original language. But if the Gospel is to be preached unto all the world, translation is required. After all, forcing aboriginals to learn Greek prior to evangelizing them would not only be unreasonable, but ridiculously cumbersome as well.

Translation, therefore is critical to the spreading of the Gospel. There is always something lost in translation from one language to another; be it nuance, native colloquialism, or cultural understanding. The same can be said for any bible translated from Greek, whatever the origin of the original text. The real question is whether or not the doctrines contained within the translation are watered down, or removed altogether.

So, is the King James version a perfect translation of the original Greek? A better question would be, "Is the King James version the best English translation of the original Greek?" And to that question I say yes. Absolutely!

And here's why.

Contained within the Apostles Creed [a colossal misnomer, btw] are the core doctrines of Christian Faith.

...Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
...He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.
...He suffered under Pontius Pilate.
...He was crucified. He died, and was Buried.
...He descended into Hell, and rose to life on the third day.
...He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God.
...And will return to judge the living and the dead.

In this creed we have the Deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His resurrection, and His second coming. Also important, though not contained within the Creed, is the Blood Atonement-- without this there is no forgiveness of sin.

As to the Deity of Christ...

Timothy 3:16

From the King James:
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

From the New American Standard Version:
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."

From the New International Version:
"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."

From the Contemporary English Version:
"Here is the great mystery of our religion: Christ came as a human. The Spirit proved that he pleased God, and he was seen by angels. Christ was preached to the nations. People in this world put their faith in him, and he was taken up to glory."

After the King James Version, the common thread running through each of the texts that follow is the absence of "God was manifest in the flesh." A couple of these strange versions come with footnotes that say, "some manuscripts say....," but this is hardly a qualified statement of Christ's deity; footnotes do not carry the same weight as the text to which said footnotes are ascribed. By saying, "Some manuscripts say..." the authors, essentially, admit they believe otherwise. If these authors believed the verse should have said "God was manifest in the flesh" they would have included it.


Romans 14:10, 12

From the King James Version:
"...For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ... So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

From the New American Standard Version:
"...For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God... So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God."

From the New International Version:
"...For we will all stand before God's judgment seat... So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."

From the Contemporary English Version:
"...The day is coming when God will judge all of us... And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do."

On the surface, nothing here is wrong with any of these translations... We will all stand before the judgment seat of God to give account of ourselves. The problem lies, as with the first example, in the systematic failure of these other versions to identify the judgment seat as belonging to Christ Jesus... Who IS God. Christ Jesus is therefore robbed by these newer translations of His deity... His identity as God in human flesh.


Acts 20:28

From the King James Version:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

From the Revised Standard Version:
"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son."

Here, the RSV distinguishes between Christ and God as two separate entities, proving nothing in regard to Christ's deity. How can anyone reading the RSV take from this verse the knowledge, and understanding that Jesus is God? Logically, they can't. And again, footnotes don't count; if it's not in the body of their text, the authors do not believe it should be there.

I challenge anyone to compare their favorite translation to the King James and deliberately seek out differences. Not every verse in your favored version will disagree with the King James, but you have to ask yourself, how much difference is allowable before the whole of your "favored version" is deemed corrupt?

Some will accuse me of splitting hares/hairs, but I remind them all that God does not mince words. He speaks so that His voice and meaning are evidently and abundantly clear. He is the master of rhetoric, and nothing... not one jot or tittle... is ever superfluous. Not knowing which version to trust may seem confusing, but let me remind you, "...God is not the author of confusion..." 1 Cor 14:33



Next:
In Preparation for Detour, Part 5 - Exhibit A

Previously:
Interlude No.1
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Monday, April 17, 2006

Questions to Consider...

What is Easter without Communion?

What is any gathering of Christians without the offering of Communion?

When a congregation is so large Communion is deemed somewhat less than feasible, can this congregation be said to have departed from the faith?

If Logistically and Circumstancially possible, should Communion be part of every Christian gathering?

Congregations who spend 30 minutes or more prior to the preaching of the Word, on music and singing, yet can't find room for the sharing of Communion, what do those congregants lose by not taking part in the solemn observance of Communion?


Here's more

Sunday, April 16, 2006

In Opposition IV...

How God defines a worshipper...
One who willingly and lovingly gives God the praise and honor due Him


How the world defines a worshipper...
(order dependent upon the number of "P"s one uses whilst googling)
1: Someone who admires too much to recognize faults
2: Believer: a person who has religious faith
3: A person who is involved in an act of worship


Here's more

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Interlude No.1

In the summer of 1977 my parents pulled me out of George Washington Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama, and enrolled me into a private Catholic School. The military is famous for integrating its children into the most... diverse of schools-- I can only assume it builds both character and a better understanding of the many different cultural and socio-economical differences in this great country of ours. Maxwell AFB in the summer of '76 was no exception, and as a result, my sophomore year at GWC was unpleasant at best.

Montgomery Catholic High School was beyond different. I could walk the halls and not worry about getting into a fight because I was white. I didn't have to worry about chicks pulling knives on me in Biology demanding my frog (we were dissecting... long story). Not only did I not have to worry about my safety, I got to express myself creatively and intellectually in a way I was never able to do before. On top of all this was the mandatory religion classes.

My junior year in Fr. McDevitt's Old Testament review was enlightening. Well, enlightening after the fact; at the time I was merely confused. Suddenly this young Baptist was being compelled to pray to Mary-- which I did, not knowing any better --and being forced to sit meekly by while the good Father systematically boiled down the miracles of God in the Exodus story to a distillate of natural phenomenon; nothing miraculous at all.

I've related all this to say the following: Billy Joel's "The Stranger" was a popular Album around school in those days. "Only the Good Die Young" however, was banned by all the pop radio stations in Montgomery because of a strong-- and vocal --Catholic Diocese. But here's the point: One line in that particular song has been ringing in my head all evening long while trying to get this installment to gel in my mind.

"Sooner or later it comes down to faith..."

But that's not right! I immediately realize. Mr. Joel sings, "sooner or later it comes down to fate..," but I still can't get that subconscious substitution out of my head and I know exactly where it comes from.

What we choose to believe about God, ultimately comes down to faith. And here's the difficult part... We don't have faith enough to believe in God[1]... He gives us the faith to believe.

Do we take Him at his word? Or do we reject Him altogether? There is no middle ground with God, and this is why scripture is so important. What are we to believe? What doctrine? What truth...? Pilate asked that question once, but that was nothing new; man has been asking that question throughout his entire existence. And were it not for God Himself revealing the truth to us, through His word, we would still be ignorant of His Mercy, His Grace, His lovingkindness toward us, and His greatest work of redemption; the salvation of any man willing to accept it through belief in Christ Jesus.

The Jews kept and guarded God's word flawlessly, through careful and deliberate attention to accuracy in each copy they made of the Old Testament scriptures. They pretty much had their form down to a science. Perhaps that's why the Gospels refer to those perfectionistic artisans as "Scribes."

New Testament scribes, however, were not as assiduous in their work; they were not as careful. The letters and Gospels in the early days of the church were read over and over, voraciously, and in due time became worn and in need of duplication. Because of the early copyists' lack of careful attention to their work, heresies inevitably began to creep in. Copyist's began to correct word usage, and portions of scripture they perceived as being inconsistent with previous passages, or their own idea of what the scriptures meant. Some went so far as to rewrite, or delete altogether, whole passages; again, to reflect their own idea of what the scriptures meant, often drastically changing a passages meaning.

At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the task was given-- supposedly by the Emperor Constantine --to define the overall requirements of belief... a creed, if you will... that Christianity, which seemed was showing some distressing signs of heresy, might be soundly codified. Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" would have the world believe that the Council was to vote specifically on the issue of the Deity of Christ, and that the vote was very close.

"...there certainly was no vote to determine Jesus' divinity: this was already a matter of common knowledge among Christians and had been from the early years of the religion.

"The bishops did, however, have to decide whether or not to sign the statement the Council drafted which clarified their understanding of the historical and biblical teaching concerning Jesus' nature[2]..."

If signatures are to be construed as "votes" then it was a blow out. Out of more than 300 Bishops, only 2 failed to sign the document. Note also that Nicea is located in what is now Turkey, where Greek Orthodoxy would later be established and find its seat in the city of Constantinople-- modern day Istanbul. The Majority Text, or Texus Receptus, from which the KJV was translated, is derived from this area of Christendom... not Rome. Rome gets her translation from Alexandria, Egypt. As do most modern translations such as the NIV, NASB, RSV, etc. et al.

In the Bible, "Egypt" connotes anything but good images... death, bondage, plagues, polytheism... Nothing good comes from Eygpt. Why then would anyone accept a translation based on a codex that had it's origins in Egypt, of all places?

But the Council of Nicea has little relevance to this discussion other than historic. The Church eventually split into East and West, Greek and Roman, each with their own translation, and doctrine, and belief.


Next:
Detour, Part 4 - Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines

Previously:
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"

I am no bible scholar. I have no degree in theology. What I do have is a good working knowledge of what the bible has to say, to whom it speaks, and why it remains uncorrupted doctrinally-- despite man’s best efforts --to this day. The first proof of this lies in the knowledge that God cannot lie.

Proverbs 30:50
"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

Psalm 119: 160
"Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."

Psalm 119:89
"LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."

Psalm 33:4
"For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth."

Psalm 18:30
"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him."


Some have argued, and still argue that although God’s word is preserved in heaven, we should not take that to mean it is settled—or unsullied—on earth. But this argument presupposes that God’s power—his locus of control—ends at heavens’ gate. This position is indefensible; wherever God speaks, His word is true. Wherever God is, His judgments are righteous.

It has further been argued that man cannot possibly alter the incorruptible word of God, but if this were true how are we to explain Revelation 22:18-19?

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Why would God bother to warn us against a thing we could not possibly do? Quite simply, He wouldn’t.

So which manuscript is the most reliable? Which manuscript is the most authentic? Which manuscript tells the truth? First, let’s identify the manuscripts from which our modern translations are derived. Rather than regale you with knowledge I don’t have on this subject let my point you to a place that does...

Codex Sinaiticus:
"Codex Sinaiticus was discovered by Constantin Tischendorf in a convent at the foot of Mount Sinai. It contains the entire Greek Bible, plus the Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas (early Christian writings which were widely used in teaching). It is believed to be from the fourth century, but somewhat later than Codex Vaticanus. Prior to its publication Tischendorf had given a descriptive account of the manuscript with a sample of its readings in Notitia editionis Codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici auspiciis Imperatoris Alexandri II. susceptæ ... Edidit Ænoth. Frid. Const. Tischendorf, &c. (Leipsic, 1860).

The text of Sinaiticus (written in four columns to the page) contains an unusually high number of readings which have clearly arisen by transcriptional error, most of them by careless omissions. Aside from these, however, the text closely resembles that of Codex Vaticanus, and so the discovery of Sinaiticus had the effect of increasing the already high reputation of that manuscript. Readings which are shared by both of these codices are usually regarded by critics as deserving of special attention (see Westcott and Hort 1881)."

Codex Vaticanus: From the same location as the previous...
"The Codex Vaticanus, so called because it is the most famous manuscript in the possession of the Vatican library, is generally believed to be from the fourth century, and is thought to be the oldest (nearly) complete copy of the Greek Bible in existence. Lacking from it are most of the book of Genesis, Hebrews 9:14 to the end, the Pastoral Epistles, and the book of Revelation; these parts were lost by damage to the front and back of the volume, which is common in ancient manuscripts. The writing is in capital letters (called uncial script) without spaces between words (scriptio continuo), and is arranged in three columns on the page. Like other early manuscripts, its text is somewhat shorter than the later manuscripts, less harmonistic in parallel passages of the Synoptic Gospels, and it often agrees with the texts presumed to underlie the ancient Coptic, Syriac, and Latin versions against the later Greek manuscripts. It is relatively free of obvious transcriptional errors, and is usually taken as the best representative of the ancient "Alexandrian" form of the New Testament text."

Textus Receptus:
"Traditional Received Text (Textus Receptus), also called the Byzantine Text or the Majority Text because it is based on the vast majority of manuscripts still in existence. These extant manuscripts (MSS) were brought together by various editors such as Lucian (AD 250-312), Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza and the Elzevir brothers to form the text known as Textus Receptus, the name given to the Majority Text in the 17th century. The most notable editor of all was Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) one of the greatest scholars the world has ever known. When the early Protestant Reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries decided to translate the scriptures directly from Greek into the languages of Europe, they selected Textus Receptus as their foundation Greek document. It is vitally important to understand why they did so."


What’s important to note from all this?

The Textus Receptus...

...Is based on the vast majority (90%) of the 5000+ Greek manuscripts in existence. That is why it is also called the Majority Text.

...Is not mutilated with deletions, additions and amendments, as is the Minority Text.

...Agrees with the earliest versions of the Bible: Peshitta (AD150) Old Latin Vulgate (AD157), the Italic (AD157) etc. These Bibles were produced some 200 years before the minority Egyptian codices favored by the Roman Church. Remember this vital point.

...Agrees with the vast majority of the 86,000+ citations from scripture by the early church fathers.

...Is untainted with Egyptian philosophy and unbelief.

...Strongly upholds the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith: the creation account in Genesis, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the Savior’s miracles, his bodily resurrection, his literal return and the cleansing power of his blood.

...Was - and still is - the enemy of the Roman Church. This is an important fact to bear in mind.


The simple fact is, the King James Version sustains vital Christian doctrine, while all other versions erode, or tear down altogether these same Christian Doctrines. These basic doctrines include:

The Virgin Birth of Christ
His Deity
His Blood Atonement
His Resurrection
His Ascension into Heaven
His Second Coming
His Millennial Rule as King


Next:
Interlude No.1

Previously:
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Filed Under, "Professing themselves to be wise..."

A Florida State University professor, one Doron Nof, believes Jesus was able to walk on water because.... well... he was really walking on ice. Go figure.

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,"
Romans 1:22


Here's more

Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important

I've expressed the following idea several times before in various forms and locations. It's not new to me, but it surprises me how few people seem to have grasped it. To say that this is one of the greatest truths in the bible would be reaching, because the greatest truth of the bible is that God loved man so very much that he willingly took on mortal flesh to pay our debt of sin -- a debt we are wholly incapable of paying ourselves -- that we might be restored to fellowship with Him, our Creator.

God has spent almost an entire week working to bring His redemptive plan for mankind to an end. That's not a long time for God, but it's been in the neighborhood of six thousand years for us 1/2. God has made a lot of pronouncements, and quite a few promises, and the only real proofs of His faithfulness are His Word, His grace in our lives, and the physical universe itself and all it contains 3. God says this alone should be enough evidence to prove his love toward us, but man’s heart is, because of sin, hardened to these evidences.

So man asks, "Who is God? And why should we believe in Him?"

As to the first, God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and Lord over all. The Universe is His creation: every light-year of real estate between here and the boundaries of the universe (if there is in fact a boundary), every galaxy, star, black hole, quasar, and pulsar... "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Psalm 50:10 KJV

As to 'why should we believe in Him,' the question implies much more than a simple "why," it asks, "what makes You worthy of our praise and worship?" Very bold words! But then man is rebellious by nature, and we have Adam to thank for that... not Eve 4.

So what is it man needs to know about God? Let's consider a rhetorical question posed by an Urban Myth. The story goes... A philosophy professor of my sister's, brother's, cousin's, best friend, posed a question to the class last week... "Can God create a rock so large that even He cannot move it?" On the surface, this paradoxical question is framed to smash any pre-conceived stereotypical sentiments the class may have about God, and/or create doubt in the hearts of any would-be believers. If God is omnipotent, shouldn’t He be able to create a rock so huge even He couldn’t move it? But then, if it’s so huge He can’t move it, how can God then be omnipotent?

What a crafty question! But a question with one fatal flaw. It does not consider God's nature: God is Holy... The epitome of Holiness... The personification of Holiness... In fact, there is none more Holy than God. But what does this imply? What is the consequence of existing eternally in a state of perpetual Holiness?

Answer: There is absolutely no stain of sin in God.

Which means, despite His omnipotence, there are things even God cannot do. And for the purpose of this stop along the detour, perhaps the most important thing God cannot do is Lie.

So. Can God create a rock so large even He cannot move it? The answer is Yes. God, in reference to the throne of David says in 1 Kings 2:45, "...and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD for ever." In Isaiah 9:7 God says, "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." The Lord God has said it. The Lord God cannot lie.

Proof of this is found in three places:

                 Numbers 23:19
                 Titus 1:2
                 Hebrews 6:18

Numbers 23:19 says:

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"

The bible says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar"5, and, "There is none righteous, no, not one..."6. God is not like man; He does not lie. He has no need, and feels no need, to lie. Only man feels it necessary to lie, because man is sinful, and every lie he tells finds its root in either fear or malice... Fear of hurting another’s feelings; Fear of punishment, however slight; or maliciously, with the intent to hurt. God is neither fearful nor malicious. He is Holy and as such, without sin.

Titus 1:2 goes one step further:

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began…"

So, not only does God not have reason to lie, he simply cannot do it. Again, because He is Holy, and as such, without sin.

But Hebrews 6:18 seals the deal:

"That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us…"

Let's get this straight: God has no need to lie. He cannot lie. And, in point of fact, it is impossible for God to lie. This is very strong language, and extremely important if any of us are to have any measure of assurance that God will keep His word and save us from eternal damnation. To put it another way, it is as possible that God will ever tell a lie as it is for us to witness a goldfish leap out of it's bowl, place a sombrero on its head, pick up and strum a Spanish guitar, while belting out in perfect tenor Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro..." It's simply never going to happen. It is simply not in this imaginary goldfish's nature to do these things—the whimsical imagination of Dr. Seuss notwithstanding. The same is true of God. It is simply not in the nature of a Holy God to tell a lie... He simply cannot do it.

There are a number of things God cannot do, or be made to feel, but they're irrelevant to this discussion. The point is, it is very important to understand that despite being limited in what He can do, He does not suffer because of it. In fact, we are assured that we can rely on God to always tell us the truth.

If we're going to rely on the blood of Christ to wash us clean from all unrighteousness, thereby restoring us to fellowship with the Father, we have to know we can trust Him to keep His word. But let me make one thing clear. God, despite the title of this post, is not limited in any way, by His inability. He is limited by His promise, Which-- for anyone wishing to debate the semantics of 'limited' --is very different

"...hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"



Next:
Detour, Part 3 - Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"

Previously:
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Monday, April 03, 2006

Go Gators!

I wonder how many folks lost money on this one. I bet there's a lot of folks weepin' in Sin city tonight.


Here's more

Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"

2- The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important

3- Manuscripts, Translations, and "Why the KJV?"

4- Comparing Translations to Established Christian Doctrines

5- Jesus of Nazareth and Statistical Impossibilities

6- Types and Antitypes

7- Isaiah 1:18 and the Introduction of Logic

8- Historical and Archeological Proofs

9- Why God Felt the Need to Take on Mortal Flesh

10- What has Satan Been Up to All This Time?

11- Biblical Christianity, and Historical/Modern Heresies

12- Eschatology and Dispensational Truth

13- The Virgin Birth

14- The Teachings

15- The Crucifixion, the Blood Atonement, and the Resurrection

16- The Deity of Christ

17- Why Christianity, Despite the Church's Many Sins

18- The Second Coming

19- Conclusions

20- Apology


All Detours are subject to change. The map says this is the way, but plans can, and often do, change. It all depends on where the road I'm on actually takes me.

This post is as much for my benefit-- keeping me focused --as it is for anyone desiring to know where all this is leading.



Next:
Detour, Part 2 - The Nature and Limits of God... and why this is important

Previously:
Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Detour, Part 1 - "Preamble"

I have challenged someone in regard to his faith. My challenge was not gentle. It was not in the spirit of honest debate. It was with anger, and a desire to smash his faith. My challenge has since been accepted and my opponent has challenged my own faith in return. His objections aren't new; I've encountered them before, as have countless others throughout the centuries. Some were better equipped to answer the challenge, others were not. Where I fit in remains to be seen.

As I have a lot on my plate as it is at present, I can't, in good conscience, rattle off another poorly motivated response. Realizing this, I had to step back and reflect on why I felt the need to challenge a Muslim in the first place. Further, I had to decide how to approach the challenge.

I could just brush it off and allow my opponent to feel vindicated in his belief, but that would do more damage than good; I would pay for it in the end, and that's a debt I'm not willing to levy upon myself unnecessarily. Jamal deserves a response. I've asked for patience and he's graciously allowed it.

I've spent some time in prayer and conversation with God; asking how I should begin, and the spirit in which I should present my case. I feel confident in the decision I've made and this preamble, as it were, is to lay out the case for my decision.


One: Jamal believes his faith as fervently and I do mine, and it's unlikely that anything I say will change his mind... The reverse is equally true; I will not be swayed.

Having established that...

Two: The Bible, as contained in the King James Version, 1611 edition is, to my belief, the inerrant Word of God. Quite frankly, it is superior to any and all modern translations.

Three: The proof of this is in the Word of God, and I feel no need to support my case via any other texts, except in the comparison of other translations, or anecdotally.

Four: God has ordered the Universe as He has seen fit, setting all things in motion at some time in the distant past. That order is expressed through the natural laws that govern this universe and this world. Everything harmonizes despite the fact that we comprehend but a fraction of these natural laws. Logic can be used to verify the these natural laws and the veracity of God's Word, but our lack of full comprehension will make our use of logic difficult at times... Which is where faith comes into play.

Five: I do not feel compelled to answer point for point Jamal's question/objection(s); that leads to a tit-for-tat game of gotcha, which solves nothing, and only embitters us both toward each other. What I get from God on this is: Answer only the question of whether or not the Bible, as described in point Two, contains the inerrant Word of God. Establish this and everything else becomes moot.


Ultimately it comes down to faith. But it has come to my attention that my job, as I've stated on Jamal's own site, is not to convert (although that is desired result). Instead, the goal is lead him and whomever may read what follows to Christ. I've heard it articulated this way:

"How many of the people I've witnessed to have I led to Christ?"

Answer: "All of them."
As a volunteer fireman in a world burning down around us, it is my one and only job to point everyone I find to the door. Whether or not anyone uses that door is their decision. I hope they will. I pray they will. I'll beg them to flee this burning house... But they have to chose to flee the flames.

In closing, I believe the veracity of the Bible can be proved through the Bible alone. If I point to history, or scientific fact, or anecdotal evidence, it will only be to illustrate, not to verify, a point.

It is my prayer that any and all who read what follows will see the door, and escape the flames.


Next:
Detour, Parenthetical - "What Will Shortly Follow"

Previously:
Warning: Detour Ahead


Here's more