The Righter Report

Were the Founding Fathers Deists?

Were the Founding Fathers Deists, and why does it matter?

by Pete Righter

One might be surprised at how many people today believe the mantra that the founding fathers were deists, in spite of the historical evidence to the contrary.   What’s not surprising in our culture today is that very few people have done their due-diligence on the subject to the point where (1) they understand what deism is, and (2) why it’s important that we understand its influence – or lack thereof – in the founding of our nation.

First, what is Deism?

Deism, the religious attitude typical of the Enlightenment, especially in France and England, holds that the existence of God can be only proved based on the application of reason and the world can be discovered through observation experience and reasoning. A Deist is defined as “One who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” Deism was often synonymous with so-called natural religion because its principles are drawn from nature and human reasoning. In contrast to Deism there are many cultural or revealed religions, such as Judaism, Trinitarian Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and others, which believe in supernatural intervention of God in the world; while Deism denies any supernatural intervention and emphasizes that the world is operated by natural laws of the Supreme Being. – Wikipedia, “Deism in England and France in the 18th century.”

“Deism has come to denote the theological belief that God created the universe according to scientific laws, but does not interfere in its daily operation.”  – The New World Encyclopedia

 Deism: “[From Latin Deus, God Deity] The doctrine or creed of a Deist.” “One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being, but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” – Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1941.

Deism is not a religion, but a religious philosophy. It advances the theory that God exists, that He created the universe, but does not intervene in the affairs of humankind. – ushistory.com.

Deism, as it came to be known in Colonial America, was largely advanced by the French philosopher and historian Voltaire, who believed during the “Enlightenment” that God was little more than a watchmaker who wound up the universe and then sat back and did not further involve himself in the affairs of men and nations.  This movement, if you will, was part and parcel of an effort to de-Christianize French society and replace Christianity with rationalism and pagan philosophies.  The movement was critical of traditional institutions and essentially sought to discard long-revered moral principles and beliefs.

 Based on the definitions above and elsewhere, the two principle beliefs of Deism were:

 1. Although God created the universe, he did not intervene in the affairs of men and nations.  He did not guide men into the founding of nations, or do miracles, or answer prayer, or provide providential protection to his followers.

2. God did not give divine / revealed revelation to man (i.e. the Bible, prophecy, etc.)

 I think one would be hard pressed to find many our founding fathers who fit those descriptions.

Why is all this important?

Today we have a “progressive” movement in America which seeks to expunge or minimize any mention of God, along with his moral values and teachings, from the public square and from American’s traditional Godly heritage.  Their thinking is if they can eliminate the Judeo-Christian God and his influence from America’s historical writings and from the public square, it will be easier to promote their godless agenda into American life.  And if there has to be a god, then it will be one who has no moral agenda and one who will not interfere in the affairs of men and nations – i.e. the god of deism.

The dangers in that kind of thinking are obvious:  First, it’s historical revisionism.  And second, it negates the providence and moral foundations of God in our American culture and historical foundations.

How widespread was deism among America’s Founding Fathers?

Dr. M. E. Bradford of the University of Dallas conducted a study of the Founding Founders to look at this question (whether the Founding Fathers were deists or Christians). He discovered the Founders were members of denominations as follows: twenty-eight Episcopalians, eight Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Lutherans, two Dutch Reformed, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, and three deists. – Reference: M. E. Bradford, A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982), iv–v.

 That’s correct – only three deists.

I think if one is skeptical of what was just presented then all one needs to do is perform a comprehensive study of quotations from the founders, keeping in mind the two main principles of deism:  no divine revelation to man and no influence or interaction in the affairs of men and nations.  A good reference source for study is the book in the photograph at the top of this article – “America’s God and Country” – Encyclopedia of Quotations, by William J. Federer. All quotations are referenced.

With this in mind let’s take a look at four of the Founding Fathers most often claimed to be deists by the progressive movement.

 Benjamin Franklin

In his younger years, Franklin was influenced by the writings of Robert Boyle, a 17th Century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor.  As a defender of the Christian faith, Boyle made a series of arguments against deism, but it was the arguments of deists in Boyle’s writings which appeared to have made a more lasting impression with Franklin, and for a time Franklin embraced deism.  These influences did not have a lasting effect on Franklin, though, and by the time of the American Revolution, Franklin had done a “180” and was a firm believer in the divine revelation and providence of the Biblical God.

On June 28, 1787, after much gridlock in the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin spoke the following:

“In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.”

It’s pretty obvious that Franklin believed in a God who did involve himself in the affairs of men and nations, and Franklin also alludes to the New Testament as “Sacred Writings,” which also reveal God’s revelation to man.   Franklin was no deist.

George Washington

He (Washington) was an open promoter of Christianity. For example, in his speech on May 12, 1779, he claimed that what children needed to learn “above all” was the “religion of Jesus Christ,” and that to learn this would make them “greater and happier than they already are”; on May 2, 1778, he charged his soldiers at Valley Forge that “To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian”; and when he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the military on June 8, 1783, he reminded the nation that “without a humble imitation” of “the Divine Author of our blessed religion” we “can never hope to be a happy nation.” Washington’s own adopted daughter declared of Washington that you might as well question his patriotism as to question his Christianity. (David Barton, Wallbuilders.com)

In addition, the inscription on Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon is this:

WITHIN THIS ENCLOSURE REST THE REMAINS OF GENL. GEORGE WASHINGTON.” Over the door of the inner tomb is inscribed: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.”

Thomas Jefferson

 Thomas Jefferson was hardly speaking from a strict deist standpoint when he said:

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”  (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781)

Now, why should Jefferson tremble for his country if God does not involve himself in the affairs of men and nations?

And then there’s this:

“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all  the necessities and comforts of life.” (Monday, March 4, 1805, in his 2nd Inaugural Address)

Another oblique reference to the Bible.  Remember, a strict deist was one who believed God was like a watchmaker, who wound up the universe and thereafter did not involve himself in the affairs of men and nations.  Jefferson obviously believed otherwise.

James Madison

James Madison trained for ministry with the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, and Madison’s writings are replete with declarations of his faith in God and in Christ. In fact, for proof of this, one only need read his letter to Attorney General Bradford wherein Madison laments that public officials are not bold enough about their Christian faith in public and that public officials should be “fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.” And while Madison did allude to a “wall of separation,” contemporary writers frequently refuse to allow Madison to provide his own definition of that “wall.” According to Madison, the purpose of that “wall” was only to prevent Congress from passing a national law to establish a national religion.  (David Barton, Wallbuilders.com)

Miscellaneous Quotations

Concerning the outcome of the American Revolution, John Quincy Adams noted, “The highest glory won from the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated June 28, 1813, John Adams wrote: “The general principles on which the (founding) fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity.”

Founding father Noah Webster proclaimed much the same message when he said, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles…This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

Time after time, the founding fathers declared similar beliefs. From the archives of Patrick Henry’s personal notes (handwritten on the back of his copy of the “Stamp Act Resolutions,” made public after his death) we read:

“Whether this (new government) will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.”

https://righterreport.com/2011/07/16/the-moral-foundations-of-america-2/

Concluding Remarks:  And so it goes, from one Founding Father to the next.  The most frequent and most  dominate influence among the founders was the Bible (divine revelation to man) which was referenced in some 34% of the founding father’s quotations.  The vast majority of the founders believed in an active God who not only gave divine revelation to man, but who was also providential in the affairs of men and nations.

References: 

America’s God and Country” – Encyclopedia of Quotations, by William J. Federer.  All quotations are referenced.

“The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible. David Barton. May 2008. http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755

– The Righter Report

 

Advertisements

June 15, 2014 Posted by | America, Human Interest, Opinion, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Three Bells, by the Browns

June 1, 2014 Posted by | America | Leave a comment

Paul Harvey’s Warning to America

“If I were the Devil I would…”

May 26, 2014 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Opinion, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible, Pseudoscience, and the Paranormal

by Pete Righter         

                 “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who

                 gains understanding; for wisdom is more profitable

                 than silver, and yields better returns than gold.”

                             (Proverbs 3:13)

In the colleges and universities of this world, truth, knowledge, and wisdom remain the keys to man’s continued search for enlightenment and advancement. Yet there is a wisdom often overlooked by today’s universities – the wisdom of God and the Bible, including prophetic revelation.  Indeed, the words of the prophet Daniel seem to have come to pass in this generation – “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4 – KJV).  Men of God such as the late Grant Jeffrey now estimate that our base of knowledge is now doubling every two to five years.  Yet without the word of God, man’s quest for knowledge and the Utopian dream are limited to defining life and knowledge in the natural realm. Pseudoscience and the Occult, along with Biblical supernaturalism, are normally relegated to the paranormal.  One such book which deals with supernatural and paranormal subjects is Terence Hines’ Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, which does a nice job in discrediting such pseudo-scientific beliefs as reincarnation, psychic healings, ESP, the Bermuda Triangle, ancient astronauts, and astrology.

WHAT IS PSEUDOSCIENCE?

According to Merriam-Webster, pseudoscience is “a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific.”  Basically, it’s counterfeit science.  It cannot be ‘falsified’.  Falsifiability, as defined by the philosopher Karl Popper, defines the inherent testability of any scientific hypothesis.  Pseudo-scientific studies (i.e. previous ‘cold fusion’ studies) cannot be replicated.

A good example of a pseudoscience is astrology, which will be reviewed later on in this article.  But first, a critical look at reincarnation.

REINCARNATION

Reincarnation is the belief that people have lived past lives, and that after this present life there will still be other lives to live.  Hinduism promotes the concept of reincarnation as it relates to spiritual progression.  In Hinduism, people experience both good and evil occurrences –  known as “good and bad karma.”  These are the results of one’s behavior.  If one does good deeds, good karma will follow, but if one’s behavior is evil, bad karma will follow.  Through a progression of incarnations, a person will hopefully achieve an enlightened spiritual plateau whereby good overcomes evil, and one will finally be released from the cycles of reincarnation to achieve union with the highest known spiritual reality they call “Brahman.”

In the 1950’s there was the very famous case of ‘Bridey Murphy’ that perpetuated the notion that reincarnation is real.  Author Terence Hines relates the details:

“The most famous alleged case of reincarnation is that of Bridey Murphy.  In 1952 one Virginia Tighe was hypnotized.  She reported details of a previous life in Cork, Ireland, as ‘Bridey Murphy.’  While hypnotized, she spoke in a distinct Irish accent that she did not have normally and described her life in Cork in great detail.  Her case was reported as proof of reincarnation in Bernstein’s (1956) best-selling book, The Search for Bridey Murphy.  The case was thoroughly investigated several years later.  It was discovered that, as a child, Mrs. Tighe had had a neighbor across the street who had grown up in Ireland and used to tell her stories about life there.  The woman’s maiden name?  You guessed it – Bridey Murphy.  Further, it was revealed that Mrs. Tighe had been involved in a theater in high school and had ‘learned several Irish monologues, which she had delivered in what her former teacher referred to as a heavy Irish brogue.'” (Hines 72-73)

The above was a classic example of human and satanic deception.  The Bible makes clear that there are three basic types of spirits – the human spirit (Proverbs 18:14), the Spirit of God (Isaiah 61:1), and evil spirits (Judges 9:23).  While the Bridey Murphy case was an example of a deception created by the human spirit, it is also clear according to the Bible that Satan is the father of all lies, and as such we can also see his influence and deception behind the scenes – not only in the Bridey Murphy example but also in such false religions as Hinduism.  Because of this, we can look at demonic influences in the lives of deceived individuals to recognize the source behind other reincarnation stories and beliefs.

The Bible makes it clear that Satan has been around since before the Garden of Eden.  He knows what occurred in the lives of such people as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hitler, and every other person who has lived since the creation of mankind.  It is certainly not a “reach” then to believe that he and / or his demonic spirits can place false memories of “prior lives” into the unregenerated minds of modern man, especially when those individuals are making an effort – such as a seance – to establish “contact” with higher spiritual powers.

From a Biblical standpoint, reincarnation is a false doctrine.

 “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

In the Biblical story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  It was to the rich man that Abraham said, “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.”  In this parable – which the Dake’s Bible calls “The Story of Two Beggars” – Lazarus begging on earth, and the rich man begging in the hereafter –  and which many Christian teachers consider to be a revelation of divine truth, both the rich man and Lazarus have a clear, existing consciousness in relation to those who are still left on the earth.  If reincarnation were real, both individuals would likely have been “born again” into a new earthly body.

With reincarnation, man is automatically granted one life after another until he supposedly reaches paradise. Accordingly, there is no need for a savior to cleanse one from one’s sins, so Christ would have died in vain.  That is the danger inherent in the teaching of reincarnation – it makes Jesus Christ and his sacrifice at Calvary superfluous.

ASTROLOGY – A PSEUDOSCIENCE

Astrology is the study of the positions and movements of astronomical bodies – in particular, the sun, moon, and planets – and their supposed effect on life and events on earth.  Astrology was studied among the ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, Etruscans, and the Chaldeans of Babylonia.  The Chaldeans are credited with the origin of astrology in a primitive form, probably as early as 3000 B.C.  Terence Hines states that the first evidences of astrology date back more than 4000 years, and originate in the area of Mesopotamia (Hines 141).  As to the realm of scientific research, astrology is considered a pseudoscience.  It is totally devoid of having any meaningful, verifiable scientific evidence to substantiate its claims.

To begin with, current astrological signs (Libra, Aquarius, etc.) are out of conjunction.  Hines writes:

“Astrology fails to take into account the astronomical phenomenon known as precession.  The assignment of certain dates to certain signs of the zodiac (e.g., Aries ruling the period from March 21 to April 19) was made 2000 years ago, and has been followed by astrologers ever since.  When it is said that the sun is “in” Aries between March 21 and April 19, this means that the sun, as seen from earth, is in the same part of the sky as is the constellation Aries.  The correspondences between the twelve constellations of the zodiac and their assigned dates were correct 2000 years ago – but not today.  The earth ‘wobbles’ slowly as it rotates and because of this the position of the sun relative to the constellations of the zodiac (as seen from earth) changes over the centuries.  By now, the difference is almost one complete sign, so the sun in not in Aries from March 21 to April 19, but in Pisces for most of that period.  Thus, if you are an Aries (born between March 21 and April 19), the sun was almost certainly not in Aries when you were born, but in Pisces!” (Hines 144).

Secondly, early astrologers never predicted the existence of the outer three planets, and never had the slightest hint that the planets existed until astronomers discovered them.  Today, astrologers claim to understand the astrological influences of the three new planets.  Astrologer Linda Goodman (1968) explains astrology’s failure to note the influences of the three ‘new’ planets before their discovery by saying that a planet doesn’t have any astrological influence until it is discovered (Hines 145-146).  How humorous!

Third, scientific research dispels the notion that sun signs influence an individual’s personality.  Hines again relates:

“The characteristic personality of the extrovert seems to be nicely defined in the typical description of Aries: bold, assertive, aggressive, self-confident, determined.  An obvious  astrological prediction, then, is that more extroverts than introverts should be born under Aries.” (Hines 148)

The astrologer’s claim is that a romantic couple’s compatibility is determined, at least in part, by their astrological signs.  Hines cites the studies of Dean (1977) and Culver and Ianna (1984) that revealed, no influence of sun signs on marriage or divorce rates” (Hines 154).  People were getting divorced at a uniform rate no matter what their sun signs were.  Hence, the absence of sun sign compatibility.

From a Biblical perspective, Romans 1:25 comes to mind:

                “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and

                 worshiped and served created things rather than

                 the Creator….”

The sun, moon, and planets are the created things – God is the Creator. Astrology is a pseudoscience and should not be relied upon as a meaningful indicator of astrological influence.

FAITH, PSYCHIC AND HEALINGS OF THE OCCULT

In the world of genuine healing miracles, we need to understand that some practitioners who claim to heal “in the name of Jesus” are out and out frauds.  Hines tells the story of the 1986 investigation of “Faith Healer” W.V. Grant, who years ago operated out of Dallas, Texas.

We arrived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music well before the service was scheduled to start.  During the healing portion of his services, Grant typically walks up to people in the audience, asks them to stand, if they’re able, and announces their name….and what they are suffering from.  How does Grant get this information?  Our investigation confirmed what (psychic investigator) Randi  had reported earlier.  Before the service starts, members of Grant’s staff would walk through the hall and chat with those who had arrived early.  These people are actually being pumped for information, which is then reported to Grant.  Randi, after attending one of Grant’s services in Florida, found crib sheets listing information about people who were “cured” in the trash.  It was also noticed that one of Grant’s staff was using hand signals to let the reverend know what part of the victim’s body was “afflicted.”  (Hines 240)

In a similar manner, “healer” Peter Popoff also conducted fraudulent miracle services.  His staff also pumped information from various people prior to the service, and this information was radioed to Popoff from an outside transmitter to a tiny receiver he had in his ear.  These broadcasts were subsequently picked up and recorded by a communication specialist working for psychic investigator James Randi (Hines 240-241).

From an occult viewpoint, author Kurt E. Koch, a missionary and sincere servant of God, notes numerous instances of occultic healings that he has observed during his life.  In his book, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, he gives the following example as evidence of Satan’s work:

“During my various visits to England I have frequently come across the tracks of one of the most dangerous healers of the Western world.  His name is Harry Edwards. Edwards, who today calls himself a spiritual healer, first visited a spiritualistic meeting when he was in his early forties.  He was soon told at the seances that there were spirit guides who wished to cooperate with him.  It was about this time that he had his first experience of “absent healing” (note Edgar Cayce, later in this work).  He was told by a friend about a person who was suffering from consumption, pleurisy and hemorrhage….he was able to see the patient clearly.  Later he was informed that on the very night he had commenced healing, the victim of consumption had begun to improve:  his fever had abated, his hemorrhage stopped and the pleurisy ceased.  It is quite enlightening to note that Edward’s healing power stems from his spirit guides on the other side….(and) has nothing to do with ‘the Christian theory of vicarious atonement'” (Koch 44-45).

Koch provides numerous examples of occultic healings and spiritual possession, along with their detrimental consequences, in his book, Occult Bondage and Deliverance. He also provides scriptural confirmation that occultic healings can take place, to wit:

“But quite obviously healings do take place.  The question is, what is the force behind the healing?  We have many passages in the Bible recording the ability of sorcerers to work miracles.  We need only think of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses in Exodus 7, or of the demonic signs and wonders mentioned in Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13 and 16:14” (Koch 47).

Biblically, it is clear that true, Godly gifts of healing do exist:

           “To one there is given through the Spirit the message

             of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge….

             to another faith….to another gifts of healing….”

                                                  (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Outside of the practice of medicine, man has no power by his own nature to perform miracle healings.  Miracle healings can only occur through two known spiritual forces – Satan, and God, through His Holy Spirit.  And Koch makes clear, time and time again, that the spiritual healings of Satan come at the expense of one’s spiritual estrangement from God.

PSYCHICS AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA

 Psychics such as Jeane Dixon, Dorothy Allison, Lou Wright, and numerous others, claim to have a supernatural connection through which they are able to predict future occurrences.  One of the most famous of these from medieval times was a man by the name of Michel Nostradamus (1503-1566).  He was popularized in a documentary hosted by Orson Welles entitled, “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.”  Hines takes note of many of Nostradamus’ prophetic revelations, including the predictions of Hitler, fighter aircraft, the atomic bomb, and even the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Hines notes, “….These prophecies (of Nostradamus) are only seen to be accurate after the fact. No one has ever used them to make correct predictions about what is going to occur before it occurs” (Hines 40).  For instance, it is claimed that one verse (Century 1, verse 64) specifically predicts the advent of fighter aircraft and the atomic bomb:

They will think they have seen the sun at night

When they will see the pig half-man;

Noise, song, battle, fighting in the sky perceived,

And one will hear brute beasts talking.

Hines notes that this is a far cry from any specific prediction of fighter aircraft and atomic weapons (Hines 41).

In my collegiate course on pseudoscience and the paranormal  at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, we were shown that psychics make many generalized, open-ended predictions.  For instance a psychic may tell someone, “I see an automobile accident in your future.  You will not be harmed though, so don’t worry.”  Here it is noted that the person being given the psychic prediction does not necessarily have to be involved in an accident – they may also witness one and think the psychic hit pay dirt.

Psychics make numerous, assorted prophecies.  People notoriously are guilty of forgetting about the numerous prophecies they were given that were incorrect, and remember instead the one that accidentally came true.  Psychic readers do what is known as “cold readings” – they seem to have no discernible basis other than supernatural insight for the information they give.  For example, a psychic may be seeing a young lady for the first time.  The psychic notes that the woman is not wearing a wedding ring, but notices she is adorned with a lot of very expensive jewelry (indicating a perceived inclination for wealth).  She then prophesies that the young lady will be married in the future and that she will achieve much financial success.  She may also state that the woman is now not romantically fulfilled (if the lady says she was just engaged to the most wonderful person she has ever met, but left her engagement ring at home), the psychic will tell her that not until her marriage will she ever know the true measure of romantic fulfillment).  It was also revealed  that some of the more expensive psychics will use their own staff members to search through a prospect’s garbage looking for insightful information between the time the appointment is booked and the time of the “reading.”  Imagine what information might be gained about a person’s financial status and dietary indulgences, etc., should their garbage be investigated!

Edgar Cayce, the “Sleeping Prophet” (known as such because he used to go into a sleep-like trance during his “readings”), lived in the first half of the 20th  century.  He is famous for not only his predictions concerning the coming second world war, but also for having performed over 7000 “life readings” for individuals, many of which experienced subsequent healings and exhibited a high degree of knowledge not known to mortal man.  Though for religious reasons I have dissolved my literature on Cayce, I recall reading that he believed some of the remains of the lost civilization of Atlantis would be discovered off Bimini in “68 or 69.”  Indeed, in 1968, off the coast of Bimini, near Andros, in about forty feet of water, the remains of an elaborate, man-made walkway was found and photographed.  One historian from Miami duly noted that “Atlantis has been found.”  Today, there is a lot of conjecture concerning the origin of the underwater ruins.

From what I had read, I had no doubt that Cayce had a spiritual gift.  Later, though, upon examining the holy scriptures, I determined that his gift was occultic.  My reasons for this conclusion are as follows:

1.  He never spoke of Jesus in the same light as is revealed in the Bible.

2. He believed in reincarnation, which the Bible teaches against (Hebrews 9:27), and had a vision of himself returning to earth            in the mid twenty-first century.

3.  Many of his prophecies were inaccurate (note Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

4.  There were reports that on his deathbed he confessed to his son that he felt sure he had been under the influence of a demonic spirit during his lifetime.

5.  Cayce didn’t call sinners to repentance, nor did he stress salvation in Christ.

6.  Cayce’s books are generally found in the “Occult” section of bookstores.

Biblically, there do appear to be evil spirits that have the ability to predict certain future events, though I suspect this ability is somewhat limited.  A good example of this is found in Acts 16:16:

            “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we

             were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which

             she predicted the future.”

Later, in Acts 16:19 the Apostle Paul cast the demonic spirit out of her.

The psychics who are involved with demonic spirits can sometimes be very accurate. However, they invariably leave out some small detail that makes a definite difference, or they predict several things that may later come true and one thing that doesn’t come true, and you won’t know which is which.  One of these psychic predictions cost my late father $10,000 once in a lawsuit concerning medical malpractice.  The psychic (Lou Wright, from Denver) said he should go ahead with his case and that he would win it.  He lost, and had to pay both parties legal expenses in addition to court costs.

Biblically, according to Deuteronomy 18:21-22, if a prophetic word is from the Lord, it will come to pass. Approximately 25% of the Bible contains prophetic revelation, and as far as can be determined God has a 100% accuracy rate.

All too often I speak with friends and/or acquaintances who talk about what this psychic said, or what that medium or spiritist, etc., said.  I suspect in most cases they have no idea which spiritual power (if any) the psychic is deriving their information from – whether it’s from God or the devil.

For the record, the Bible warns against consulting with psychics and mediums.

 “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is detestable  to the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12

I have one rule of thumb if someone is presenting themselves as a psychic, a faith healer, a “diviner of truth,” etc.  I would ask them one or more of the following questions:

  1. “Who is Jesus Christ to you?”  If the answer comes back that Jesus is anyone other than the divine and resurrected savior / Son of God, then I would not continue any further.  Just hearing back, “Jesus was a good man and a wonderful teacher of the truth” is not enough.
  2. Or you could ask, “Who or what is the ultimate source of the information you are going to provide me?”   If they say it just comes to them then ask them the question in # 1.  And don’t let them off the hook until they provide clarification.

THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE

Although the Bible is primarily a theological and historical text, there are scientific principles found in scripture.  Examples of these can be seen in the following article – Science and the Bible:

http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/science.shtml

CALCULATING THE ODDS

In the late 1950’s, a mathematics and astronomy professor at Pasadena City College by the name of Peter W. Stoner, calculated the odds of just eight (8) Messianic prophecies about Jesus Christ coming true (some theologians point to there being as many as 300-450 prophetic references to Jesus in the Old Testament).  Stoner referenced just eight in his calculations.  The odds that one man (Jesus) could possibly fulfill just these 8 prophecies came out to 1 in 10 to the twenty-eight power.  That’s 1 chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. See link below.  But fulfill those prophecies Jesus did.  That’s incredible, and that folks is the signature of God – fulfilled prophecy at a rate much greater than chance.

The Odds of Eight Messianic Prophecies Coming True

http://www.bereanpublishers.com/the-odds-of-eight-messianic-prophecies-coming-true/

In closing, for more information concerning psychic and pseudo-scientific phenomena (such as UFO’s, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, astral projection, etc.), I invite the reader to review Hine’s text (see below) on these and other related subjects.

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord!

Works  Cited:

Hines, Terence.  Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.  Buffalo.  Prometheus, 1988.  (Available at Amazon.com)

Koch, Kurt.  Occult Bondage and Deliverance.  Grand Rapids.  Kregel, 1971.

– The Righter Report

May 7, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Opinion, Science, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

The Ten Plagues of Egypt

Exodus chapters seven through twelve document the ten plagues the Lord put Egypt through in order to secure the release of the Israelites from their bondage.  It had been some four-hundred years since Joseph and his family had first sought refuge in Egypt from the famine.  But now, with Moses as “The Deliverer,” the Jews were to be set free.

Reasons for the plagues:

The sins of the Egyptians are well documented.  Not only had they placed the Israelites in slavery, but they had also engaged in idolatry (the worship of false gods), and had even ordered the murder of the Israelite’s male babies.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”  –  Exodus chapter 1, NIV

It is unknown how many sons of the Israelites were ultimately killed, but undoubtedly it was many.

Interestingly, when another deliverer (Jesus) was promised to Israel, the enemies of the Israelites also killed their babies.

One other thing – we can logically conclude from scripture that, like the Amorites, there would come a time of judgment from God when the sins of the Egyptians would reach their full measure.

Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” – Genesis 15:13-16

The Ten Plagues

The ten plagues on Egypt weren’t just happenstance.  Not only were they punishment against the Egyptians for their sins but each of the ten plagues were directed against one or more of the Egyptian “gods,” to show the people of Egypt (and Israel) that those ‘gods’ were impotent.  For instance, the first plague turned the Nile River into blood.  The Egyptian ‘god’ of the Nile was Hapi, and it soon became clear that Hapi could not stop the plague of blood.  The God of Israel was showing beyond a doubt that He was the one who ruled over the universe.

So, here are the ten plagues, and the Egyptian ‘gods” that were judged impotent:

Plague #1: Water into Blood                                            

Egyptian god attacked: Hapi  – The god of the Nile

Plague #2:  Frogs

Egyptian god attacked: Heka (Heqt or Heket) –  The god of fertility

Plague #3: Lice

Egyptian god(s) attacked: Geb /Horus – The god of the earth

Plague #4: Flies

Egyptian god attacked: Kheper (or Khepri)

Plague #5: Death of Livestock

Egyptian gods attacked:  Apis: (Sacred Bull);  Hathor: goddess of protection

Plague #6: Boils

Egyptian gods attacked:   Imhotep (physician god); Thoth (Magic and healing); Isis, goddess of medicine

Plague #7: Hail  

Egyptian god attacked: Nut – The sky goddess

Plague #8: Locusts

Egyptian god attacked: Seth – The god of crops

Plague #9: Darkness

Egyptian god attacked: Ra – The sun god, their primary god

Plague #10: First Born Killed  

Egyptian gods attacked: Pharaoh (He was considered a  god and his first born son would become a god after him); Bes – Protector of Children; Aten – Symbol of life.

Concluding remarks:

Like many things in the Bible, it pays to do one’s due-diligence and research a particular story to gain a fuller understanding of what was going on.  In Egypt, God not only delivered the Israelites from bondage, but also punished the Egyptians for their centuries of sin, and showed them that each of their so-called ‘gods’ were impotent against the Almighty God of Israel.

One other note of interest:

Evidence of the Exodus from Egypt:  http://www.bibleandscience.com/archaeology/exodus.htm

Blessings,

– The Righter Report

 

March 25, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Why Israel Missed its Messiah

By Pete Righter

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ appeared on the world scene in Israel. Individual Gospel / New Testament authors record him healing the sick, raising the dead, ushering in a ‘New Covenant,’ being crucified and dying on a Roman cross, and resurrecting again on the third day, as he prophesied. And thus was born what is now known as Christianity, which Merriam Webster defines as, “the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.” And I might add, “professed also by Messianic Jews” (those who believe in Jesus as their Lord, Savior, and Messiah).

But for the most part, Israel, the Jewish people, and skeptics through the ages, have rejected Jesus and Christianity. But is their rejection based on valid arguments and sound Biblical exegesis? The reasons most Jews reject Jesus involve numerous objections. The purpose of this article is to address the top three most common objections, which are:

1. Jesus didn’t qualify as the Jewish Messiah; he didn’t fulfill the Messianic prophecies.
2. Judaism doesn’t teach a crucified Messiah who will die for the sins of its people.
3. Christians incorrectly argue ‘Jesus the Messiah’ appeared right on time, according to scripture and Jewish tradition.

Let’s look at these top three objections one by one:

1. Jesus didn’t qualify as the Jewish Messiah; he didn’t fulfill the Messianic prophecies.

In my almost forty years of Biblical studies, speaking with and debating Jews and skeptics, and researching the concept of the Jewish Messiah, one thing became crystal clear: the Jewish people were expecting “Messiah ben David” and not the “Suffering Messiah,” aka Messiah ben Joseph. First, who is Messiah ben David?

In Judaism, and also in Christianity, “Messiah ben David” is the conquering king, much like King David in the Jewish Tanakh / Old Testament. It is believed in Judaism that Messiah ben David will conquer the enemies of the Jewish people, build the “Third (Jewish) Temple,” and usher in a thousand-year Messianic kingdom.

For the record, “Messiah” (Hebrew ‘Mashiach’ in Judaism), means an “anointed one,” and is generally a term used to describe chief priests and kings who were traditionally anointed with sacred anointing oil, as we read about in Exodus chapter 30, and who were more specifically spiritually anointed by God and his Holy Spirit to fulfill priestly and kingly offices and purposes.

At this point one clarification needs to be made. Whereas there are many ‘anointed ones’ in scripture, there is also one dominate, ‘anointed one,’ who is different and more important and powerful than all the others. We read about him in Daniel chapter 7, verses 13 and 14 (Daniel speaking):

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

The Jewish Tanakh says only God is to be worshiped, but here is another individual who also has sovereign power, glory, and authority, and who will be worshiped by people of every nation and language. Clearly, this individual is different than a mere anointed priest or king. In Christian theology, we see this same individual again in Daniel chapter 3:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three godly Jews in captivity in Babylon who refused to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, and thus were summarily thrown into a blazing furnace of fire. Daniel 3:24-25 records what happened next:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty. He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.

The distinction is clear: There are many ‘sons of man’ but only one who is given sovereign power and authority. There are many ‘Mashiachs’ (anointed ones) but only ONE dominate Messiah.

Objection: Jesus didn’t fulfill the Messianic prophecies.

Various Christian and Messianic Jewish websites list up to 300 Old Testament Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during his first advent. A partial list of these can be seen at the end of this article. But the objections from Jewish rabbis and others deal with the remainder of the Messianic prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled. These include the rebuilding of the third Jewish Temple, the destruction of the enemies of Israel, and a thousand year millennial reign by the Messiah – Messiah ben David, the conquering king.

The answer to those objections is simple: Christian theology teaches that Jesus will fulfill the remaining prophecies during his Second Coming. So the objection is premature.

Which brings us to an interesting point: At the time when Jesus appeared in the first century, there were numerous expectations by Jews that the Messiah would appear at that time. The following link documents those expectations:

Messianic Expectations in First Century Judaism

Which also begs the question: If the Jews were expecting their Messiah at the time of Christ, when their Second Jewish Temple (Herod’s Temple) was already standing, why should we expect the Messiah to build a Third Temple 2,000 or so years later, when they weren’t expecting him to build the second temple in Herod’s time? So that objection – that the Messiah is to build the Temple – is highly questionable. All the scriptures say is that the Messiah will come to the Temple (Malachi 3:1) – not necessarily build it. By the way, Malachi 3:1 is considered by some Jewish rabbis as being a messianic prophecy.

Objection # 2: Judaism doesn’t teach a crucified Messiah who will die for the sins of its people.

Now we get to the person of “Messiah ben Joseph – the ‘Suffering Servant.”

Generally speaking, Messiah ben Joseph is described as the “Suffering Servant” who atones for the sins of his people. He appears on the stage in Israel, will be rejected by his people, and dies in the war against evil. Following that the world is filled with calamities and war until Messiah ben David – the Conquering King – appears and sets everything right.

Curiously, in Judaism, numerous ancient Jewish rabbis identified Isaiah chapter 53 as speaking about such an individual. Among the verses of Isaiah 53 are these:

2 …he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

Uncanny. If there was ever a profile of Jesus Christ, then this is it. And numerous Jewish rabbis agreed this chapter of Isaiah is a Messianic prophecy. Among the quotes from the ancient rabbis concerning Isaiah 53 are these:

Rabbi Moses Alschech(1508-1600) said:

“Our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view.”

Abrabanel (1437-1508) said earlier:
“This is also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midrashim.”

Rabbi Yafeth Ben Ali ( second half of the 10th Century):
“As for myself, I am inclined to regard it as alluding to the Messiah.”

Many more quotations from Jewish rabbis are in the same link as the ones above:

Isaiah 53: How do the Rabbis Interpret This?

Of course once the scriptures started looking too much like the Christian Messiah Jesus Christ, more recent rabbis changed their opinions to claim that now Isaiah 53 is speaking about the Nation of Israel as the “individual” in question. Of course this is not a very compelling argument for the reasons expressed in the following article:

Why Isaiah 53 cannot refer to the nation of Israel, or anyone else, but must be the Messiah

The New Testament contains several passages which confirm Isaiah 53 is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ:

Isaiah 53 and New Testament Fulfillments

Regarding a “crucified Messiah,” many Christian theologians point to the twenty-second Psalm as being the “Crucifixion Chapter / prophecy about Christ. A real nice article on this can be seen in the following link:

5 Allusions to Psalm 22 at Christ’s Crucifixion

By the way, I was once told by a believer in Judaism that nowhere in the Old Testament does it say the Messiah (i.e. Jesus) will come twice. My response was to ask where in the Old Testament does it say he will only appear once? Another objection was when another believer in Judaism claimed the name of Jesus (as Messiah) in not seen in the Old Testament, so he can’t possibly be the Jewish Messiah. My response to that was similar: where is the name of the Jewish Messiah that you believe in mentioned?

Thus, objection # 2 is also seen as being without merit.

Objection # 3: Christians incorrectly argue ‘Jesus the Messiah’ appeared right on time in the first century, according to scripture and Jewish tradition.

Earlier, I provided the link on “Messianic Expectations in First Century Judaism” to show that in the first century, there were definitely expectations of the Jewish Messiah appearing.

To add to that the following is offered to counter the third objection.

From my studies over the decades, there are only two places I know of in the Old Testament that predict / prophesy when the Messiah will appear in history. The first of these is documented in a separate article on my website written by Chuck Missler (From his Book “The Creator Beyond Time and Space”)

Until Shiloh Comes

The prophecy, generally stated, is this, from Genesis chapter 49:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49:10 (NKJ)

This strange prophecy has a few words that need to be defined in order to be fully understood. The word “scepter” has been understood by the Rabbis to mean the “tribal staff” or “tribal identity” of the twelve tribes of Israel. This “tribal identity” was linked, in the minds of the Jews, to their right to apply and enforce Mosaic law upon the people, including the right to adjudicate capital cases and administer capital punishment, or jus gladii (The jus gladii is a legal term which refers to the legal authority to adjudicate capital cases and impose capital punishment.)

Secondly, it is well documented that the word “Shiloh” has been understood for millennia to be an idiom for the Messiah. Therefore, according to this prophecy, the tribal identity or scepter of the tribe of Judah would not cease until the Messiah came. The article goes on to conclude that the time called for the Messiah to appear is the first century – when Jesus did appear.

The second place in scripture that indicates when the Messiah would appear is Daniel chapter 9, verses 24-27. And again, the time it indicates for the appearance of the Messiah is the first century – in 32 AD. Exactly when Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Jewish Messiah. Here is the background on that prophecy:

Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy

Both examples above are considered Messianic by various Jewish rabbis. Concerning Daniel chapter 9, we see the following quotes by ancient Jewish rabbis:

In the Babylonian Talmud, complied between 200 – 500 A.D., Rabbi Judah (the main compiler of the Talmud), said concerning Daniel’s prophecy:

“These times were over long ago.” – Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 98b and 97a

In the 12th Century A.D., Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (Maimonides), one of the most respected rabbis in history, said:

“Daniel has elucidated to us the knowledge of the end times. However, since they are secret, the wise (rabbis) have barred the calculations of the days of Messiah’s coming so that the untutored populace will not be led astray when they see that end times have already come but there is no sign of the Messiah.”

In addition, Rabbi Moses Abraham Levi noted regarding the time of the Messiah’s coming:

“I have examined and searched all the Holy Scriptures and have not found the time for the coming of Messiah clearly fixed, except in the words of Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, which are written in the 9th chapter of the prophecy of Daniel.”

And, in the Targum of the Prophets, in the Tractate Megillah 3a, the Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel noted, concerning Daniel’s prophecy:

“The date of the Messiah was foretold in it.”

Summary / Conclusion:

So there we have it: First century Messianic expectations, along with the time-sensitive prophecies from Genesis chapter 49 and Daniel chapter 9 – all indicating that the Messiah would appear in the first century. And the only logical candidate that fulfills those prophecies and expectations, the one who fulfilled numerous Messianic prophecies during his first advent (and who is expected to fulfill the remainder at his second advent); the one who is the image of Isaiah chapter 53 as Messiah ben Joseph (the “Suffering Servant”), and the one which is written about by predominately Jewish believers in the New Testament – is Jesus Christ.

By the way, the scriptures also indicate the Jewish Messiah would be divine, which is exactly what the New Testament notes about Jesus.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 shows the Messiah will be God

And now we have compelling arguments as to why Israel did not and has not recognized their beloved Messiah:

1. They were expecting Messiah ben David (the ‘Conquering King’) to appear, and Messiah ben Joseph (the ‘Suffering Servant’ – Jesus Christ) appeared first instead.
2. Most of them missed the times foretold about when the Messiah was to appear – in the first century A.D. And,
3. Almost no one prior to the first century expected two faces and two advents of the Messiah. But the first advent is documented in Jesus Christ, and the second is expected as surely as the first.

Finally, two other notes that address issues regarding the Messiah: The first is a scholarly work written by the world’s foremost Jewish Messianic expert on the Messiah, Dr. Michael L. Brown. I highly recommend anyone interested in the Jewish Messiah to invest in and read the following:

Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus (five volumes)

Or you can purchase one volume at a time at Amazon.com

The second is a site showing the fulfilled Messianic prophecies of Jesus Christ:

Fulfilled Messianic Prophecies

Jesus is Lord!

God bless,

– The Righter Report

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Messiah

Isaiah Chapter 53 – 750 B.C.

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken
.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities
.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors
.

Isaiah 53 and the New Testament Fulfillments

Isaiah 53 According to Ancient Jewish Rabbis

From the link above: Conclusion: This history of rabbinical thought concerning Isaiah 53 demonstrates that the traditional Jewish view of Isaiah 53 is that it speaks of the Messiah. Because of this, it is clear that the dominant Jewish view of the Messiah throughout the centuries has included the understanding that the Messiah would suffer and die as a sacrifice, bearing the sins of all people who would “believe the report” (verse 1). He would be the ultimate atonement for Jewish people and for others who would embrace him.

Why Isaiah 53 cannot be referring to Israel, but the Messiah instead

The Jewish Messiah is Jesus Christ.

Shrine of the Book Museum in Israel

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Baptism?

THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM

Conservative Christianity holds that there are only two sacraments that are commanded to us by Christ – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism: 1: A Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community; 2: an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated or named. (Webster’s 88)

Baptism of fire: 1: A spiritual baptism by a gift of the Holy Spirit – often used in allusion to Acts 2:3-4 and Matthew 3:11; 2: An introductory or initial experience that is a severe ordeal (a soldier’s first exposure to enemy fire). (Webster’s Dictionary)

Hastings Bible dictionary identifies baptism as, “an outward sign and pledge of inward repentance on their (man’s) part, and of their forgiveness on the part of God. Baptism is related to repentance as the outward act in which the inward change finds expression” (Hastings 82). In his book, The Glorious Journey, Pastor Charles Stanley defines baptism as, “An act of obedience whereby the believer publicly identifies through immersion (in water) with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.”

Baptize: Originates from the Greek word baptizo; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet); of ceremonial ablution. (Zodhiates 18)

I would give this definition of baptism for the true believer in Christ: “A willful, conscious, outward act of immersion in water that signifies the inner working of Christ and the Holy Spirit whereby the believer, by an act of God’s grace, is cleansed from impurity and identified in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” No doubt there are many definitions of baptism, depending on the various disciplines of Christianity.

“Baptism and the (Lord’s) Supper are for the saved alone, and only the saved can scripturally observe either ordinance” (George W. Truett).

I have heard it said that there’s not much in the New Testament that isn’t alluded to in the Old Testament. Accordingly, there should likely be some Old Testament scripture(s) that look forward to the sacrament of baptism. I submit Ezekiel 36:25-26:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will
cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I
will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.”

Concerning the above verse, the Geneva Study Bible provides this commentary:

“The sprinkling or pouring of water refers to the ritual purifications for removing religious defilement (Exodus 30:17-21; Leviticus 14:52; Numbers 19:17-19). It is also used as a symbol for the gift of God’s (Holy) Spirit, in the anointing of kings and priests and in the prophetic call (Joel 2:28, 29). The outpouring of God’s Spirit is a sign of the messianic age (37:14; 39:29; Isaiah 42:1; 44:3; 59:21). This rich symbolism attaches to baptism in the New Testament. The language of vs. 25-27 is closely paralleled in Psalm 51:7-11” (Geneva Study Bible).

A related New Testament verse is found in John 3:5: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” And yet another related verse is found in Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” This being said, I think it should also be noted that the apostle Paul referenced Jesus in this same context:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and
gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the
washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)

The Geneva Study Bible makes this comment regarding the above: “Paul outlines in these verses the entire process to which Christ has committed Himself in His relationship with the church. He has washed her from sin and is preparing her for a glorious destiny with Himself” (Geneva Study Bible 1869). Of course the “word” (washing with water through the word) is directly connected to John 1 – “the word became flesh,” speaking of Christ. It is at this juncture that we see that both Christ and the Holy Spirit are involved in spiritual cleansing (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:25-26). To further this point I submit I John 1:7 (KJV):

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ
His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

These foundational verses support the proposition that (1) By a work of God’s grace believers are cleansed from their impurities; and (2) Christ and the Holy Spirit are both clearly identified as being instrumental in this process.

JOHN THE BAPTIST

The advent of John the Baptist was not just happenstance – he was clearly foretold in the Old Testament (note Isaiah 40:3, 5 in conjunction with Matthew 3:1-3, and also Malachi 4:5-6 in conjunction with Luke 1:17). His mission from God was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” he cried out. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:2, 11).

The first thing we note is that John’s baptism is a baptism of repentance, which is a preparatory work of God in man’s heart. I say that repentance is a work of God, for if it were a work of man, then man could boast of this “work.” And Ephesians 2:8-9 states clearly that man is saved solely by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And also, John 6:44 states, “No one can come to me unless the God who sent me first draws him…” The work of repentance again brings forth the issue of a righteous and sovereign God condescending to sinful man, who is mired in an unfathomable pit of iniquity and unable to extricate himself, and bringing to fruition the Lord’s covenant promise to cleanse mankind from his impurities and reconcile him back to Himself.

Next, if John’s baptism is a baptism of repentance, then the individual engaged needs to have sufficient maturity and cognitive acumen to be able to understand right from wrong, sin from proper behavior, and be able to understand this in light of God’s word. Repentance then, as a prerequisite for John’s baptism, is not possible for newborn infants. Along these lines, there are no instances mentioned in the Bible where infants are either commanded to be baptized, or are baptized apart from such commandments. And although I don’t see anything wrong with parents baptizing their newborn children, I would recommend that the child be instructed in the ways of the Lord and then later, at the proper time, of their own accord, again undergo the baptismal sacrament.

In the last chapter of Mark (v. 16) we read:

“Whoever believes (in Christ) and is baptized will be saved, but
whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Belief in Christ (by the gift of faith) and repentance both originate from God. Once a person is convicted of their sins by the Holy Spirit, repentance, along with a believing faith in Christ, is normally not far behind. I believe they are both a work of God, and both are normative in the salvation process.

As a ritual, water baptism is also seen as a public demonstration of one’s faith in Christ. In some cultures, such as China and even Saudi Arabia, a public profession of Christ along with the water baptism can result in the individual being severely disciplined, and in extreme cases put to death. Yet the public pronouncement of one’s identification with Christ seems to say, “I am no longer under the domain of Satan or the secular influences of this world. I am a blood-bought child of God, and from this day forward my allegiance to Him comes first.” Water baptism is a commandment of Christ, and is therefore our first act of obedience to Him.

It is at this point that I feel the need to state that the ritual of water baptism is not a necessity for salvation. A good case in point would be the thief on the cross next to Jesus, who could not come down from the cross in order to be baptized. Yet Jesus told him that “today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Water baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation – believing faith in Christ is (John 3:16). Spiritual baptism, resulting from a true, believing faith in Jesus Christ, is a necessity for salvation. Water baptism should follow.

People can say they believe in Christ and even undergo baptism and still not be saved. The important thing is the condition of the person’s heart, and if their faith in Christ is genuine. Outward ceremonial rituals do not save a person. Inward spiritual cleansing must occur, resulting from saving faith, and many people in the church tend to confuse this issue.

No outward act, or work of man, can bring him salvation – salvation is totally a work of God in a persons heart and mind.

BURIED WITH CHRIST

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ
Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried
with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we
too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

Paul went on to say that our “old self” (old carnal nature) was crucified with Christ at Calvary so that “the body of sin might be done away with.” Concerning the previous verse, theologian Wayne Grudem remarks,

“Now this truth is clearly symbolized in baptism by immersion. When the candidate for baptism goes down into the water it is a picture of going down into the grave and being buried (with Christ). Coming up out of the water is then a picture of being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. Baptism thus very clearly pictures death to one’s old way of life and rising to a new kind of life in Christ.”

I can’t let this pass without contrasting this to the Israelites passing from their old life of bondage in Egypt, across the water of the River Jordan, into their new life in the “promised land.” And we can’t forget the typology of Noah’s flood:

“…God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was
being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved
through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now
saves you…” (I Peter 3:20)

BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY

First Corinthians 12, relating to spiritual gifts, goes on provide a good illustration of the diversification of the many believers in the “body” of Christ – His church. Paul further elaborates on this in I Corinthians 12:12-13:

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and
though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with
Christ. For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body…”

In the above verse we see that through baptism we are all joined as one into the body of Christ – one spiritual family, made up of people from all over the world. You may recall from the Abrahamic Covenant that the Lord made this promise to Abraham:

“Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and
all the nations on earth will be blessed through him.” (Genesis 18:18)

Of course the advent of Christ through the line of Abraham was the blessing that is referred to here.

BAPTISM WITH FIRE

In Luke 3:16 John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water….but He (Christ) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” In the Old Testament we find reference to the “Refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2). This, of course, is the hand of the Lord that is working in our lives to refine us from dead works, sin, and anything else that God doesn’t think we should have in our lives. I am reminded of the friends of Daniel – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were cast into the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace and exclaimed, “LOOK! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). Two points I’d like to make: (1) We never go through the “fire” alone. Christ is always with us; (2) When we come out of the fire, we come out “unbound.” There will likely be many “fires” to walk through in our Christian experience, and every time we go through one, we are further “loosed” from our carnal bindings. It is the work of the Sovereign God bringing us into His likeness and image, burning off the undesirable dross.

If God brings fire into our lives through progressive sanctification to purify us, He also lights a fire in our bosoms to get His word out to others. God’s Spirit builds a fire in His people that will never be quenched.

BAPTISM AT PENTECOST

Acts chapter 1 records Jesus’ prophecy to the disciples concerning their coming baptism with the Holy Spirit: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…..You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:5, 8). The coming of the Holy Spirit with power came shortly thereafter:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one
place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind
came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were
sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that sep-
arated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the
Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Shortly thereafter Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered and told them that the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 had been fulfilled. That day three thousand people were saved through the Spirit. Interestingly, in Exodus 32:28, Moses had just received the Ten Commandments (the law) on Mount Sinai, and in the ensuing melee at the foot of the mountain, three thousand people died. I think Paul might well have spoken of what this meant in II Corinthians 3:6: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter (of the law) but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

What happened at Pentecost has fueled debates in the church over a number of related issues, the first of which involves the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:4 it says that the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Almost fifty days previously Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples saying, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22). Of course the question is, if the disciples received the Holy Spirit at the time Jesus was resurrected, then what was it they received at Pentecost? The answer to this is usually a matter of either private or denominational interpretation, but I would look at Acts 1:8 as providing the answer – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” It was during this period of time that the disciples went from being a collection of whimps and misfits to the dynamic apostles that we look up to in admiration.. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of power. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7 – KJV). Also consider Judges 14:6:

“The Spirit of the Lord came upon him (Samson) in power so
that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands.”

We see the same thing in the life of King Saul (1 Samuel 10:10) and with David (I Samuel 16:13). The Greek word for power in Acts 1:8 is dunamis, which means, “miraculous power, ability, abundance, mighty deeds (worker of miracles), and strength” (Zodhiates New Testament Dictionary, P. 24). If I recall correctly dunamis is the Greek word from which we derive the word ‘dynamite.’ So whereas in the Gospel of John the disciples had received the presence of the Holy Spirit, in Acts they received His power.

A second issue that is constantly debated in the church addresses the issue of whether being “filled” with the Holy Spirit always includes speaking in “tongues.” I know that at one time (and perhaps even now) the Pentecostal Church and also the Assemblies of God maintain that if you don’t speak in tongues you aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that. I’ve also heard Benny Hinn preach about the “three types (levels)” of baptism. The first is the “Leper’s anointing,” which is salvation by faith. The second involves surrendering one’s will to the Lord, which provides the “Kingly anointing” (speaking in tongues). And the third is the “Priestly anointing,” (which comes through obedience), and results in the manifestation of spiritual gifts such as healing, miracles, etc. I suspect this doctrine is more experiential than scriptural, for Ephesians 4:4-5 states,

“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to
one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one
baptism; one God and Father of all.”

Anyway, getting back to the issue of tongues as the evidence of the Holy Spirit at baptism, it seems that those who speak in tongues are mostly in favor of this doctrine, while those who don’t speak in tongues, but consider themselves saved, oppose it. Two of the most well respected Christian leaders in America are the Reverend Billy Graham and Dr. Charles Stanley of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, neither of whom speaks in tongues. You can’t convince me they don’t have the Holy Spirit. I would go on record as saying that tongues, while a legitimate Christian phenomenon, is not always an evidence of spiritual baptism, nor is it always a work of God. Pastor Roy Harthern of Orlando Christian Center has stated that speaking in tongues is not always a work of the Holy Spirit. Hank Hanigraff of the Christian Research Institute says much the same thing. There is ‘glossalalia,’ or an attempt by man to utter convincing sounds so that others might accept him in charismatic circles. And Harthern has told of several instances where he perceived that a particular person was speaking in tongues that came from a demonic spirit. So just because a person speaks in tongues, it is not always evidence that it is a gift of God.

I Corinthians 12:30 states, “Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?” The question is a rhetorical question to which the implied answer is “no, not everyone speaks in tongues.” A counter-argument back against this is that in the above verse, Paul is speaking of spiritual gifts, not the normative “speaking in tongues.” And so the debate rages on. I have seen numerous articles that seem to effectively argue both positions rather eloquently. I would just respond with 1 Corinthians 13:1:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have
not love, than I am become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

I think in the long run, love for God and one’s fellow man is a more sure indicator of salvation and baptism than is tongues.

Now, concerning whether the “infilling” of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the point in time wherein the disciples were effectually “saved,” theologian Wayne Grudem makes these points:

“But how, then, do we understand the references to baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:5 and 11:16, both of which refer to the day of Pentecost? Were these not instances where the disciples, having previously been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, have now experienced a new empowering from the Holy Spirit that enabled them to minister effectively? It is true that the disciples were “born again” long before Pentecost, and in fact probably long before Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22. Jesus had said, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (John 6:44), but the disciples certainly had come to Jesus and followed Him (even though their understanding of who He was gradually increased over time). Certainly when Peter said to Jesus, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16), it was evidence of some kind of regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. Jesus told him, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 16:17). And Jesus had said to the Father regarding His disciples, ‘I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me….I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition…’ The disciples had ‘little faith’ (Matthew 8:26) at times, but they did have faith. Certainly they were regenerated long before the day of Pentecost.” (Grudem 769)

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN GIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT

There are those in the Christian community that teach that at the moment of water baptism, the Holy Spirit then indwells the believer for the rest of their life. And while I’m sure there are many instances of that occurring in just that way, scripture also records that God may give His Holy Spirit to someone either before or after water baptism. In Acts 8:15-16 we see an example of this:

“When they (Peter and John) arrived, they prayed for them that
they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had
not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized
into the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Water baptism alone does not save a person. The Holy Spirit, given to an individual by Christ, is the “Seal of Redemption” (Ephesians 1:13-14) that signifies who belongs to God. So in Acts 8:15-16 we see an example where people received the Holy Spirit after baptism.

Now, in Acts 10:46-48, we see an example where people were speaking in tongues and where they had received the Holy Spirit prior to baptism:

“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being
baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just
as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ.”

Scripture seems clear in this regard – God alone is sovereign, and He decides who is to receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and when they are to receive Him. He alone knows who belong to Him and who don’t.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

In the Old Testament, it was a covenant requirement that those who would be identified as God’s people would undergo circumcision. And even in those instances it was still faith in God that justified a person righteous, not the ritual of circumcision (note Genesis 15:6). In Romans 4:11 Paul elaborates on this point:

“And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal
of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still
uncircumcised.”

Later, in Galatians chapter three, we find much the same thing:

“Did you receive the (Holy) Spirit by observing the law, or by
believing what you heard? Does God give you His Spirit and
work miracles among you because you observe the law, or
because you believe what you heard?” (Galatians 3:2, 5)

The points I wish to make are these: (1) Circumcision was only an outward ritual, or “seal” of what had already occurred in the heart of Abraham. He was justified by faith (Genesis 15:6). In the New Testament, the ritual of water baptism is only meant to be symbolic of what God has already done, or is doing, in a person’s heart – the “circumcised heart” – which is then “sealed” by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit; (2) The important issue is the inner working of God in man’s heart. Remember, In Ezekiel 36 God said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…I will move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” It is God that is sovereignly working in the hearts of man, and no amount of works or personal cleansing or dunking on man’s part will alone provide him with salvation or the Holy Spirit. This clearly speaks of the sovereignty of God condescending to sinful man and extricating him from the pit of iniquity, and reconciling him to his creator. God is a covenant God, and throughout the Old and New Testaments He is consistent in keeping His covenant promises. Baptism is a two part work – one is the work of man through immersion in water, but the greater work is the work of God in the process of regeneration and infilling with the Holy Spirit. The work of man does not get him into heaven, but the work of God will.

“….not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Four Spiritual Laws

– The Righter Report

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Ahitophel – Piecing the puzzle together

Why did Ahitophel betray King David?

Ahitophel was King David’s trusted advisor / counselor (1 Chronicles 27:33) and served him for many years. After some time passed, and because of David’s adultery and involvement with Bathsheba, and David’s complicity in the killing of Urriah – Bathsheba’s husband, note 2 Samuel chapter 11 – King David suffered a number of tragedies and judgments:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” – 2 Samuel 12:11-12

Then David said to the prophet Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD. Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13-14). Which soon thereafter occurred.

Yet King David’s ‘trusted’ counselor, Ahitophel, suddenly turned against him. When David’s son Absalom seized power and drove his father out of Jerusalem, Ahithophel stayed behind and became chief advisor to the rebellion (2 Samuel 15:31). It was he who advised Absalom to sleep with David’s concubines (2 Sam 16:20-23).

But the Bible does not tell us the real reason WHY Ahitophel betrayed King David. At least not directly. Like many things in the Bible, you have to search for the answer and piece the puzzle together.

The answer lies in different passages in scripture.

As it turns out, Ahitophel is mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:34, which tells us he is the father of Eliam. Since 2 Samuel 11:3 notes that Eliam is the father of Bathsheba, then the Ahitophel of 2 Samuel 15 is Bathsheba’s grandfather.

Now it becomes clear. Ahitophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather, was furious with King David for his behavior with his granddaughter and David’s complicit murder of her husband. So he turned against David.

And now you know the ‘rest of the story.’

These are the things that skeptics, and those who engage in a superficial reading of the Bible, miss, but which helps instead to solidify the interconnectedness, continuity, and credibility of the Bible.

– The Righter Report

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Ossuaries of First Christians

The first century catacomb, uncovered by archaeologist P. Bagatti on the Mount of Olives, contains inscriptions clearly indicating its use, “by the very first Christians in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem Burial Cave Reveals: Names, Testimonies of First Christians

by Jean Gilman

Like many other important early Christian discoveries in the Holy Land, these major finds were unearthed and the results published many decades ago. Then the discoveries were practically forgotten. Because of recent knowledge and understanding, these ancient tombs once again assume center stage, and their amazing “testimonies in stone” give some pleasant surprises about some of the earliest followers of Jesus.

The catacombs were found and excavated primarily by two well-known archaeologists, but their findings were later read and verified by other scholars such as Yigael Yadin, J. T. Milik and J. Finegan.

The first catacomb found near Bethany was investigated by renowned French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. The other, a large burial cemetery unearthed near the modern Dominus Flevit Chapel, was excavated by Italian scholar, P. Bagatti.

Both archaeologists found evidence clearly dating the two catacombs to the first century AD, with the later finding coins minted by Governor Varius Gratus at the turn of the millenium (up to 15/16 AD). Evidence in both catacombs indicated their use for burial until the middle part of the first century AD, several years before the New Testament was written.

The first catacomb was a family tomb investigated by archaeologist Clermont-Ganneau on the Mount of Olives near the ancient town of Bethany. Clermont-Ganneau was surprised to find names which corresponded with names in the New Testament. Even more interesting were the signs of the cross etched on several of the ossuaries (stone coffins).

As Claremont-Ganneau further investigated the tomb, he found inscriptions, including the names of “Eleazar”(=”Lazarus”), “Martha” and “Mary” on three different coffins.

The Gospel of John records the existence of one family of followers of Jesus to which this tomb seems to belong: “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick)…” (11:1,2)

John continues by recounting Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. Found only a short distance from Bethany, Clermont-Ganneau believed it was not a “singular coincidence” that these names were found.

He wrote: “[This catacomb] on the Mount of Olives belonged apparently to one of the earliest [families] which joined the new religion [of Christianity]. In this group of sarcophagi [coffins], some of which have the Christian symbol [cross marks] and some have not, we are, so to speak, [witnessing the] actual unfolding of Christianity.”

Bagatti also found evidence which clearly indicated that the tomb was in use in the early part of the first century AD. Inside, the sign of the cross was found on numerous first-century coffins.

He found dozens of inscribed ossuaries, which included the names Jairus, Jonathan, Joseph, Judah, Matthias, Menahem, Salome, Simon, and Zechariah. In addition, he found one ossuary with crosses and the unusual name “Shappira” – which is a unique name not found in any other first-century writtings except for the Book of Acts (5:1).

Additional photos and information in the story Here at LeaderU

– The Righter Report

November 11, 2013 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, News, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment