The Righter Report

The Deity of Jesus Christ in Scripture

“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” – Jesus, Revelation 22:13

Skeptics and liberal critics often try to cite passages in the Bible concerning Jesus’ incarnation as a man, and ignore those passages that confirm the deity of Jesus Christ, who is God the Son. This is one of the most frequent attacks on Christ and Christianity, for if Jesus is not divine, how can he be our God and Savior? Following are the Scriptural evidences that answer this challenge.

Scholarly author Kevin J. Conner lists 27 initial scriptural evidences demonstrating the deity of Christ:

1. Jesus existed in the beginning (John 1:1; Philip 2:6; Rev. 19:13; Micah 5:2).
2. He was with God (John 1:1).
3. He is God, the Son (John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8, 10; I John 5:20).
4. He is God manifest in the flesh (John 20:28; I Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9; Acts 20:28; Heb. 1:8).
5. He is God foretold (Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 45:6).
6. He is Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
7. He is the true God (I John 5:20 with Titus 2:13; Romans 9:5).
8. He is the great God (Titus 2:13).
9. He is God our Savior (II Peter 1:1).
10. He existed in the form of God before His incarnation and was equal with God the Father (Philippians 2:5-7)
11. He is the only wise God (Jude 25).
12. He is omnipotent over disease. (Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 4:39)
13. He is omnipotent over demons. (Matthew 8:16-17; Luke 4:35)
14. He is omnipotent over nature. ((Matthew 8:26)
15. He is omnipotent over death. (Luke 7:14-15; John 11:25)
16. He is omniscient, knowing the hearts of the Pharisees. (Matthew 12:25; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 7:39-40)
17. He knew the thoughts of the scribes. (Matthew 9:3-4)
18. He knew the history of the Samaritan woman. (John 4:24)
19. He is omnipresent. (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; John 3:13; 14:20)
20. He was worshiped as God by the angels (Hebrews 1:6); worshiped as God by the wise men (Matthew 2:2); worshiped as God by the shepherds (Luke 2:15); worshiped as God by a ruler (Matthew 9:18); worshiped as God by Thomas (John 20:28); worshiped as God by the apostles (Matthew 14:33;28:9)
21. He forgives sins. (Mark 2:5)
22. He saves (only God saves). Matthew 18:11; John 10:28).
23. He judges. (John 5:22)
24. Paul, Peter, Jude, James, and John called Him God. (Galatians 2:20; 1 Peter 3:22; Jude 25; James 2:1; I John 5:20; Revelation 1:18; 19:16)
25. He is God’s Son, who was sent to bring us eternal life. (John 3:16)
26. He arose from death in the flesh (John 20:26-28; Luke 24:39-43; I John 4:2-3).
27. One with the Father (John 10:30).

For additional evidences of the deity of Jesus Christ, see the following article: Jesus must be Jehovah

Also review this terrific study of Christ as God in the Old Testament: Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Lord

In addition, Jesus is assigned these divine names and titles in Scripture: Divine Names and Titles of Jesus

There are many more evidences of the deity of Jesus Christ that are not listed above, but what I have referenced provides sound and numerous Scriptural confirmations that Jesus is presented as the Divine Lord and Savior of the Bible.

– The Righter Report

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Earliest Mention of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

September 17, 2013

The 1st Corinthians Creed

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

While the word “received” (a rabbinical term) can also be used in the New Testament of receiving a message or body of instruction or doctrine (1 Cor.11:23; 15:1, 3; Gal. 1:9, 12 [2x], Col 2:6; 1 Thess 2:13; 4:1; 2 Thess 3:6), it also means means “to receive from another.” This entails that Paul received this information from someone else at an even earlier date. 1 Corinthians is dated 50-55 A.D. Since Jesus was crucified in 30-33 A.D. the letter is only 20-25 years after the death of Jesus. But the actual creed here in 1 Cor. 15 was received by Paul much earlier than 55 A.D.

As Scholar Gary Habermas notes:

“Even critical scholars usually agree that it has an exceptionally early origin.” Ulrich Wilckens declares that this creed “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.” (8) Joachim Jeremias calls it “the earliest tradition of all.” (9) Even the non-Christian scholar Gerd Ludemann says that “I do insist that the discovery of pre-Pauline confessional foundations is one of the great achievements in the New Testament scholarship.”

The majority of scholars who comment think that Paul probably received this information about three years after his conversion, which probably occurred from one to four years after the crucifixion. At that time, Paul visited Jerusalem to speak with Peter and James, each of whom are included in the list of Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor. 15:5, 7; Gal. 1:18–19).This places it at roughly A.D. 32–38.

Even the (liberal) Jesus Seminar co-founder John Dominic Crossan, writes:

“Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50s C.E. But he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “I handed on to you as of first importance which I in turn received.” The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30s when, according to Galatians 1:18, he “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days.”

This comment by Crossan makes sense because within the creed Paul calls Peter by his Aramic name, Cephas. Hence, if this tradition originated in the Aramaic language, the two locations that people spoke Aramaic were Galilee and Judea. The Greek term “historeo” is translated as “to visit” or “to interview.” Hence, Paul’s purpose of the trip was probably designed to affirm the resurrection story with Peter who had been an actual eyewitness to the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:5).

Credits

Habermas, among others, would contend that this creed could have been composed within mere months after the resurrection of Jesus. He notes that no credible scholar disputes Pauline authorship of 1 Corinthians, which was likely written between 55-57 AD. But Paul says in 15:3 that he passed the creed on to the Corinthian Church at some point in the past, predating his visit there in 51 AD. That places the composition of the creed no later than within 20 years of the original event.

But Habermas – and others – think the creed goes back even further: between 32-38 AD, when Paul received it, in all likelihood in Jerusalem. Three years after Paul’s conversion, he traveled to Jerusalem to interview the Apostles Peter and James. Habermas draws our attention to the fact that, when Paul described this trip in Galatians 1:18-19, he uses the Greek word historeo, which indicates a thorough investigation of the facts surrounding Jesus’ resurrection was being made. So, in all likelihood, this creed was delivered to Paul by the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, Peter and James.

Of course, the creed goes on to enumerate other eyewitnesses, including an appearance of the Risen Christ to over 500 people at once – “most of whom are still living” at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Paul is virtually daring any skeptics to interview these people.

The 1 Corinthians creed authenticates the resurrection of Christ in many ways, not the least of which is this: its incredibly early, eyewitness testimony precludes any possibility of legendary accretion.

Credits

The preponderance of the evidence is daunting. When does it become too much for the skeptics?

Jesus is Risen Indeed!

– The Righter Report

January 17, 2013 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

John Wesley’s Argument for the divine inspiration of the Bible

John Wesley’s Argument for the divine inspiration of the Bible:

The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.

1. It could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither would nor could make a book and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” when it was their own invention.

2. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they could not make a book that commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their own souls to hell for all eternity.

3. Therefore, draw the conclusion that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration.

From Wikipedia: John Wesley (17 June 1703 – 2 March 1791) was an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield’s Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally.

God bless!

– The Righter Report

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

Obama’s extreme abortion votes

Obama cast four votes against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), a bill that mandated that doctors must try to save the life of babies born alive after failed abortions.  Instead, his failure to protect the weakest among us sealed the fate of those innocent babies, and they were put to death.

That’s infanticide, pure and simple.   Protect the innocent, and vote Obama out of office in November.

– The Righter Report

 

September 26, 2012 Posted by | America, Evangelical, History, Human Interest, News, Politics, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

  Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Enfield, Connecticut
Sermon given on July 8, 1741

  A “Great Awakening” Sermon

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as vers 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. — The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

  1. That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 73:18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.

  2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18,19. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!

  3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

  4. That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. — “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” — By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. — The truth of this observation may appear by the following consideration.

  1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

  2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.

  3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. “Ye are from beneath:” And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God’s word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

  4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

    So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

  5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

  6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

  7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

  8. Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. 2:16. “How dieth the wise man? even as the fool.

  9. All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

    But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself — I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief — Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me.”

  10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.

Application

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. — That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly,

  1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. 20:2. “The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul.” The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4,5. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

  2. It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isa. 59:18. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isa. 66:15. “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.” And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of “the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, “the wrath of God,” the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is “the fierceness and wrath of God.” The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also “the fierceness and wrath ofalmighty God.” As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!

    Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. 8:18. “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.” Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only “laugh and mock,” Prov. 1:25,26, etc.

    How awful are those words, Isa. 63:3, which are the words of the great God. “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

  3. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. 9:22. “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. 33:12-14. “And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites,” etc.

    Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. 66:23,24. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

  4. It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For “who knows the power of God’s anger?

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generality persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God. — And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. — And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”

– The Righter Report

August 26, 2012 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

The Moral Justification of Capitalism

The Moral Justification of Capitalism – The Religious Justification of Capitalism

By Rabbi Aryeh Spero

No one would ever have expected that in a Republican primary the single biggest complaint among candidates seeking nomination would be that its frontrunner had taken success and capitalism too far. Mitt Romney appeared to have been blindsided, and thus unprepared, in this phase of the competition, a primary among Republicans, by accusations of “vulture” capitalism, of not bumping himself into a higher but unnecessary tax bracket, and of impropriety, unless he releases to the public twelve years of private tax returns that prove otherwise.

His Republican challengers seem to suggest that his “making too much” renders him an unsuitable nominee for President, of all places, the United States of America. His success and achievement were tarred as a prima facie indication of something unethical and immoral. President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing in vindication now that their assumptions regarding capitalism and “those 1%” have been given legitimacy and credence. But the real long-term casualty of this “too much capitalism” bashing may be not only Mr. Romney but the morality of capitalism itself and with it our vitality, prosperity and national defense.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific and unique religious perspective, that which we call the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism’s morality. Religion is man’s attempt to ascertain from Scripture God’s guidance toward that which is best for men as individuals and for general society. One thing is for sure: God desires the best for mankind, but, as with everything else in life, its realization requires hard work, the acceptance of periodic setbacks, and the ability to overcome sentimentality in favor of enduring and sometimes uncomfortable principles.

Moral is another way of stating that which ought to be. Something is moral if it is in itself, or leads to, that which ought to be. In otherwords, that which is virtuous. The entitlement, welfare state is a paradigm which undermines the noble goal of achieving personal responsibility. Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than that of the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through personal responsibility that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship, and happiness. The Bible’s proclamation that “Six days shall ye work” is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine which, more than anything else, brings about man’s inner state of personal responsibility.

Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a necessary means for the accomplishment of tasks. It ameliorates man’s inner development by making him learn and live by those habits conducive to success. He becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement, thereby engendering the virtue of gratitude toward those that make his well-being possible. And it keeps him away from idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.

Capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and out of mammoth factories of routine or as service employees in government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism mired as it is in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is dynamic and energetic, cheerfully fostering and encouraging creativity, unspoken possibilities, and the dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew Bible sees us not simply as “workers” and members of the masses but, rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us with specific individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces:” Man is created in the image of God” — in otherwords, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, human is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our Universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, paves the financial groundwork facilitating our partnership with God by bringing to surface and disbursement that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation. Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the on-the-ground realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the United States, maximizes human potential and benefits those close to it. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as “the spirit of life”.

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit, “For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?“. Laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk. The Bible is not a business school manual and, while comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds, or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower’s collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, empathy for those injured by life’s misfortunes, and charity.

It also demands transparency and being upfront regarding one’s intentions. “Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind man” goes beyond its literal understanding to include not acting deceitfully and obscuring the truth from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them. There’s nothing to indicate that Mr. Romney breached this Biblical code of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, nor invented as many useful things or seen as many people achieve personal promise. It is not an accident, but the direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook. It has led to unmatched liberty and, as the Bible attests, nothing is more important to society than liberty: “Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land”. Political liberty is, indeed, dependent on economic liberty. Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping to further expand it, President Obama is validating his cuts to our military under the assertion that defense needs must give way to domestic programs.

Countries that were once economic powerhouses, with abundant jobs for all, atrophied and declined once they, as England after WW II, began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon’s thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes. At the end of Genesis, Joseph decides that his country’s economic security lay in citizens trading-in freedom by giving the state their property in return for food. Not only did the Egyptians become bondsmen to the ruler and state but Joseph’s descendants ended up enslaved to the state.

Those on the religious Left who invalidate capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal – or as Churchill quipped, “all equally miserable” — are well aware that the Bible’s prescription of equality means “Equality under the Law” and not a utopian equality contrary to human nature and one never achieved in the ruling-class socialism they promote. At the root of capitalism’s detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be. God begins the Ten Commandments with “I am the Lord your God” and concludes with “Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings”. Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Originally printed (most) in the Wall Street Journal. Reprinted with permission from Rabbi Aryeh Spero.

By Rabbi Aryeh Spero

Rabbi Spero is a radio talk show host, and president of Caucus for America. He can be reached at http://www.caucusforamerica.com.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | America, Evangelical, Government, History, Human Interest, Opinion, Politics, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment

Church in the U.S. Capitol

David Barton – Originally published 11/10/2005

Many people are surprised to learn that the United States Capitol regularly served as a church building; a practice that began even before Congress officially moved into the building and lasted until well after the Civil War. Below is a brief history of the Capitol’s use as a church, and some of the prominent individuals who attended services there.

The cornerstone of the Capitol was laid by President George Washington in 1793., but it was not until the end of 1800 that Congress actually moved into the building. According to the congressional records for late November of 1800, Congress spent the first few weeks organizing the Capitol rooms, committees, locations, etc. Then, on December 4, 1800, Congress approved the use of the Capitol building as a church building. 1

The approval of the Capitol for church was given by both the House and the Senate, with House approval being given by Speaker of the House, Theodore Sedgwick, and Senate approval being given by the President of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, Jefferson’s approval came while he was still officially the Vice- President but after he had just been elected President.

Significantly, the Capitol building had been used as a church even for years before it was occupied by Congress. The cornerstone for the Capitol had been laid on September 18, 1793; two years later while still under construction, the July 2, 1795, Federal Orrery newspaper of Boston reported:

City of Washington, June 19. It is with much pleasure that we discover the rising consequence of our infant city. Public worship is now regularly administered at the Capitol, every Sunday morning, at 11 o’clock by the Reverend Mr. Ralph. 2

The reason for the original use of the Capitol as a church might initially be explained by the fact that there were no churches in the city at that time. Even a decade later in 1803, U. S. Senator John Quincy Adams confirmed: “There is no church of any denomination in this city.” 3 The absence of churches in Washington eventually changed, however. As one Washington citizen reported: “For several years after the seat of government was fixed at Washington, there were but two small [wooden] churches. . . . Now, in 1837 there are 22 churches of brick or stone.” 4 Yet, even after churches began proliferating across the city, religious services still continued at the Capitol until well after the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Jefferson attended church at the Capitol while he was Vice President 5 and also throughout his presidency. The first Capitol church service that Jefferson attended as President was a service preached by Jefferson’s friend, the Rev. John Leland, on January 3, 1802. 6 Significantly, Jefferson attended that Capitol church service just two days after he penned his famous letter containing the “wall of separation between church and state” metaphor.

U. S. Rep. Manasseh Cutler, who also attended church at the Capitol, recorded in his own diary that “He [Jefferson] and his family have constantly attended public worship in the Hall.” 7 Mary Bayard Smith, another attendee at the Capitol services, confirmed: “Mr. Jefferson, during his whole administration, was a most regular attendant.” 8 She noted that Jefferson even had a designated seat at the Capitol church: “The seat he chose the first Sabbath, and the adjoining one (which his private secretary occupied), were ever afterwards by the courtesy of the congregation, left for him and his secretary.” 9 Jefferson was so committed to those services that he would not even allow inclement weather to dissuade him; as Rep. Cutler noted: “It was very rainy, but his [Jefferson’s] ardent zeal brought him through the rain and on horseback to the Hall.” 10 Other diary entries confirm Jefferson’s attendance in spite of bad weather. 11

In addition to Mary Bayard Smith and Congressman Manasseh Cutler, others kept diaries of the weekly Capitol church services “” including Congressman Abijah Bigelow and statesman John Quincy Adams. (Adams served in Washington first as a Senator, then a President, and then as a Representative; and his extensive diaries describe the numerous church services he attended at the Capitol across a span of decades.)

Typical of Adams’ diary entries while a U.S. Senator under President Jefferson were these:

Attended public service at the Capitol where Mr. Rattoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon. 12

[R]eligious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury. 13

Jefferson was not the only President to attend church at the Capitol. His successor, James Madison, also attended church at the Capitol. 14 However, there was a difference in the way the two arrived for services. Observers noted that Jefferson arrived at church on horseback 15 (it was 1.6 miles from the White House to the Capitol). However, Madison arrived for church in a coach and four. In fact, British diplomat Augustus Foster, who attended services at the Capitol, gave an eloquent description of President Madison arriving at the Capitol for church in a carriage drawn by four white horses.

From Jefferson through Abraham Lincoln, many presidents attended church at the Capitol; and it was common practice for Members of Congress to attend those services. For example, in his diary entry of January 9, 1803, Congressman Cutler noted: “Attended in the morning at the Capitol. . . . Very full assembly. Many of the Members present.” 16 The church was often full “so crowded, in fact, one attendee reported that since “the floor of the House offered insufficient space, the platform behind the Speaker’s chair, and every spot where a chair could be wedged in” was filled. 17 U. S. Representative John Quincy Adams (although noting that occasionally the “House was full, but not crowded” 18) also commented numerous times on the overly-crowded conditions at the Capitol church. In his diary entry for February 28, 1841, he noted: “I rode with my wife, Elizabeth C. Adams, and Mary, to the Capitol, where the Hall of the House of Representatives was so excessively crowded that it was with extreme difficulty that we were enabled to obtain seats.” 19 Why did so many Members attend Divine service in the Hall of the House? Adams explained why he attended: “I consider it as one of my public duties- as a representative of the people- to give my attendance every Sunday morning when Divine service is performed in the Hall.” 20

Interestingly, the Marine Band participated in the early Capitol church services. According to Margaret Bayard Smith, who regularly attended services at the Capitol, the band, clad in their scarlet uniforms, made a “dazzling appearance” as they played from the gallery, providing instrumental accompaniment for the singing. 21 The band, however, seemed too ostentatious for the services and “the attendance of the marine-band was soon discontinued.” 22

From 1800 to 1801, the services were held in the north wing; from 1801 to 1804, they were held in the “oven” in the south wing, and then from 1804 to 1807, they were again held in the north wing. From 1807 to 1857, services were held in what is now Statuary Hall. By 1857 when the House moved into its new home in the extension, some 2,000 persons a week were attending services in the Hall of the House. 23 Significantly, even though the U. S. Congress began meeting in the extension on Wednesday, December 16, 1857, the first official use of the House Chamber had occurred three days earlier, when “on December 13, 1857, the Rev. Dr. George Cummins preached before a crowd of 2,000 worshipers in the first public use of the chamber. Soon thereafter, the committee recommended that the House convene in the new Hall on Wednesday, December 16, 1857.” 24 However, regardless of the part of the building in which the church met, the rostrum of the Speaker of the House was used as the preacher’s pulpit; and Congress purchased the hymnals used in the service.

The church services in the Hall of the House were interdenominational, overseen by the chaplains appointed by the House and Senate; sermons were preached by the chaplains on a rotating basis, or by visiting ministers approved by the Speaker of the House. As Margaret Bayard Smith, confirmed: “Not only the chaplains, but the most distinguished clergymen who visited the city, preached in the Capitol” 25 and “clergymen, who during the session of Congress visited the city, were invited by the chaplains to preach.” 26

In addition to the non-denominational service held in the Hall of the House, several individual churches (such as Capitol Hill Presbyterian, the Unitarian Church of Washington, First Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church, etc.) met in the Capitol each week for their own services; there could be up to four different church services at the Capitol each Sunday.

IN 1867, OVER 2,000 PER WEEK ATTENDED CHURCH SERVICES AT THE CAPITOL

The Library of Congress provides an account of one of those churches that met weekly at the Capitol: “Charles Boynton (1806-1883) was in 1867 Chaplain of the House of Representatives and organizing pastor of the First Congregational Church in Washington, which was trying at that time to build its own sanctuary. In the meantime, the church, as Boynton informed potential donors, was holding services- ˜at the Hall of Representatives’ where- ˜the audience is the largest in town. . . . nearly 2000 assembled every Sabbath’ for services, making the congregation in the House the ˜largest Protestant Sabbath audience then in the United States.’ The First Congregational Church met in the House from 1865 to 1868.” 27

With so many services occurring, the Hall of the House was not the only location in the Capitol where church services were conducted. John Quincy Adams, in his February 2, 1806, diary entry, describes an overflow service held in the Supreme Court Chamber, 28 and Congressman Manasseh Cutler describes a similar service in 1804. 29 (At that time, the Supreme Court Chamber was located on the first floor of the Capitol.) Services were also held in the Senate Chamber as well as on the first floor of the south wing.

Church In The Capitol Milestones

* 1806. On January 12, 1806, Dorothy Ripley (1767-1832) became the first woman to preach before the House. One female attendee had noted: “Preachers of every sect and denomination of Christians were there admitted- Catholics, Unitarians, Quakers, with every intervening diversity of sect. Even women were allowed to display their pulpit eloquence in this national Hall.” 30 In attendance at that service were President Thomas Jefferson and Vice President Aaron Burr. Ripley conducted the lengthy service in a fervent, evangelical, camp-meeting style.

On January 8, 1826, Bishop John England (1786-1842) of Charleston, South Carolina (Bishop over North and South Carolina and Georgia) became the first Catholic to preach in the House of Representatives. Of that service, President John Quincy Adams (a regular attendee of church services in the Capitol) noted: Walked to the Capitol and heard the Bishop of Charleston, [John] England -” an Irishman. He read a few prayers and then delivered an extemporaneous discourse of nearly two hours’ duration. . . . He closed by reading an admirable prayer. He came and spoke to me after the service and said he would call and take leave of me tomorrow. The house was overflowing, and it was with great difficulty that I obtained a seat. 31

In January 1827, Harriet Livermore (1788-1868) became the second woman to preach in the House of Representatives. (Three of her immediate family members: ” her father, grandfather, and uncle” had been Members of Congress. Her grandfather, Samuel Livermore, was a Member of the first federal Congress and a framer of the Bill of Rights; her uncle was a Member under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; her father was a Member under President James Monroe.) The service in which she preached was not only attended by President John Quincy Adams but was also filled with Members of Congress as well as the inquisitive from the city. As Margaret Bayard Smith noted, “curiosity rather than piety attracted throngs on such occasions.” 32 Livermore spoke for an hour and a half, resulting in mixed reactions; some praised her and were even moved to tears by her preaching, some dismissed her. Harriet Livermore preached in the Capitol on four different occasions, each attended by a different President.

On February 12, 1865, Henry Highland Garnet (1815- 1882) became the first African American to speak in Congress. Two weeks earlier, on January 31, 1865, Congress had passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, and Garnet was invited to preach a sermon in Congress to commemorate that event. In his sermon, Garnet described his beginnings: ‘I was born among the cherished institutions of slavery. My earliest recollections of parents, friends, and the home of my childhood are clouded with its wrongs. The first sight that met my eyes was my Christian mother enslaved.” 33 His family escaped to the North; he became a minister, abolitionist, temperance leader, and political activist. He recruited black regiments during the Civil War and served as chaplain to the black troops of New York. In 1864, he became the pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D. C. (where he served at the time of this sermon). He later became president of Avery College and was made Minister to Liberia by President Ulysses S. Grant.

(For more information on this topic please see “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic: Religion and the Federal Government (Part 2)” on the Library of Congress website)

NOTES

[1] Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1853), p. 797, Sixth Congress, December 4, 1800.
[2] Federal Orrery, Boston, July 2, 1795, p. 2.
[3] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company, 1874), Vol. I, p. 268, October 30, 1803.
[4] Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith (Margaret Bayard), The First Forty Years of Washington Society, Galliard Hunt, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 16.
[5] Bishop Claggett’s (Episcopal Bishop of Maryland) letter of February 18, 1801, reveals that, as vice- President, Jefferson went to church services in the House. Available in the Maryland Diocesan Archives.
[6] William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 66, letter to Joseph Torrey, January 4, 1802. Cutler meant that Jefferson attended church on January 3, 1802, for the first time as President. Bishop Claggett’s letter of February 18, 1801, already revealed that as Vice-President, Jefferson went to church services in the House.
[7] Cutler and Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 119, in a letter to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803; see also his entry of December 12, 1802 (Vol. II, p. 113).
[8] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 13.
[9] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 13.
[10] Cutler and Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 119, in a letter to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803; see also his entry of December 26, 1802 (Vol. II, p. 114).
[11] Cutler and Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 114, December 26, 1802.
[12] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. I, p. 268, October 30, 1803.
[13] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. I, p. 265, October 23, 1803.
[14] Abijah Bigelow to Hannah Bigleow, December 28, 1812. “Letters of Abijah Bigleow, Member of Congress, to his Wife,” Proceedings, 1810-1815, American Antiquarian Society (1930), p. 168.
[15] See, for example, Cutler and Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 119, from a letter to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803.
[16] Cutler and Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 116, January 9, 1803.
[17] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 14.
[18] See, for example, John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. VII, pp. 437-438, February 17, 1828; Vol. XI, pp. 160-161, May 22, 1842; and others.
[19] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. X, p. 434, February 28, 1841.
[20] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. XI, p. 169, June 5, 1842.
[21] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 14.
[22] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 16.
[23] James Hutson (Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress), Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 91.
[24] William C. Allen (Architectural Historian of the Capitol), A History of the United States Capitol, A Chronicle of Design, Construction, and Politics (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 271.
[25] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 14.
[26] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 15.
[27] Fundraising brochure, Charles B. Boynton. Washington, D.C.: November 1, 1867, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress; available at Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html.
[28] Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, p. 90.
[29] From the Library of Congress, at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html.
[30] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 15.
[31] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs, Vol. VII, p. 102, January 8, 1826.
[32] Smith, The First Forty Years, p. 15.
[33] Henry Highland Garnet, Memorial Discourse (Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson, 1865), p. 73.

(Reprinted with permission from Wallbuilders.com)

– The Righter Report

December 14, 2011 Posted by | America, History | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Documenting A Miracle

THE SUN DARKENED AT NOON

Circa 750 B.C.

According to Amos 1:1, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah (767-739 B.C.), and Jeroboam, king of Israel (782-753 B.C.). The name “Amos” is derived from the Hebrew term meaning, “lift a burden,” or “burden-bearer” (note Isaiah 9:4 and also Matthew 11:28, speaking of the coming Messiah as one who would carry our burdens). His calling by God was to foretell of pending judgments upon a number of surrounding nations, and particularly of a coming judgment upon Israel. As was common with many Biblical prophets, along with the promise of impending judgment God also gave Amos a glimpse of events that would soon occur in the life of the coming Messiah, though the significance of what was prophesied may or may not have been made known to Amos. And so it is in the Old Testament book of Amos that we find a prophecy that for many centuries was looked upon with wonder and curiosity:

“‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight….I will make that time like mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.'” (Amos 8:9-10)

It probably wasn’t until the day of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in 32 A.D. that the prophecy of Amos took on clarity and meaning, for in Matthew 27:45 Jesus had just been nailed to the cross when the Bible records:

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.”

Just as the “Star of Bethlehem” marked the birth of Christ, so now God brought forth another celestial miracle to pronounce His death. This prophecy is one of those that is beyond the control of mortal man, and as such it dispels the theory that Christ could have manipulated events so as to make it appear that He was the Messiah. But is there any evidence that this really occurred? Did the sun go dark at noonday? The following extra-Biblical confirmations provide the answer:

Concerning the Samaritan-born historian Thallus, circa 52 A.D: (The writings of Thallus no longer exist, yet were alluded to by the historian Julius Africanus, as follows): “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably, as it seems to me – unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of a full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.”

Likewise, Africanus wrote concerning the writings of another first century historian by the name of Phlegon: “….during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.”

Phlegon is also mentioned by the historian Origen in his work, “Contra Celsum,” book 2, sections 14, 39, and 59: “Phlegon mentioned the eclipse that took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Christ….and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar.” Apparently at one time there were historical accounts of the strange darkness that came over the land that were kept in the official archives of Tiberius Caesar, though they are likely lost to history.

Finally, the 2nd century Roman born jurist and theologian Tertullian referred to a Roman archives report of an “unexplained darkness that took place during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, as can be seen in the archives of Pontius Pilate.”

The darkness spoken of in the book of Matthew occurred between noon and three P.M. in the afternoon (from the sixth to the ninth hours, as the Jews were noted as referring to the sixth and the ninth hours of daylight). Note that a solar eclipse will take less than an hour to complete, and a total solar eclipse lasts just a few minutes. This, coupled with the fact that a solar eclipse cannot occur during a full moon (the moon would be on the ‘other’ side of the earth), provides further evidence that what occurred was something other than an eclipse of the sun. Just what it was no one can say for sure, just that from recorded historical sources there was a strange darkness during the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. From God’s perspective, it surely was a time of mourning for His only begotten son.

Jesus once said, “I am the light of the world.” So it shouldn’t be surprising that during his death there might be a time of darkness over the land.

So there it is: The prophecy, the New Testament Biblical fulfillment, and extra-Biblical confirmations.

July 14, 2007 Posted by | Evangelical, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment