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Focus on the Family’s Reply to: “Dear Conservative Christians: It’s OK to Evolve on LGBT Equality”

7 Feb
By Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family

Pastor Louis Giglio, well known for his leadership in fighting human trafficking and for founding the Passion worship conferences, was invited last month to give a prayer at President Obama’s second inauguration. Then a liberal blog unearthed a sermon he’d given in the 1990’s where he described same-sex sexual behavior as a sin and talked about people coming out of homosexuality. After a huge outcry was raised by lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- and transgender- identified (LGBT) activists and their allies, Pastor Giglio withdrew from the event.

Shortly afterward, Joseph Ward III published a letter at an LGBT – focused religious web site that’s been re-posted around the Internet, “Dear Conservative Christians: It’s OK to Evolve on LGBT Equality.” Below is my reply.

Dear Joseph (and other LGBT-identified activists and allies),

Your recent letter invites conservative Christians “to evolve” and embrace the LGBT agenda. The letter also labels our deeply-held beliefs about humanity, sex, marriage and family as “anti-gay” and says they deny the “full human dignity” of some people. Perhaps most importantly, you state that our beliefs are no longer “welcome in the public square.” But for Christians to “evolve” and embrace homosexual unions and LGBT demands about human identity would be to tear from our faith remarkable truths that are woven through all of Scripture; it would be to shred and tear God’s word and make Christianity into something it isn’t. Let me explain why we cannot accept your invitation.

In Genesis we learn foundational truths: humanity is created in the image of God – male and female – and marriage is designed by God to be the union of a husband and wife . This is not peripheral theology, but is central to the Bible. Marriage imagery runs from Genesis through the books of the law and the poets and prophets; it continues in the New Testament with Christ and His Bride, the church; and the picture ends with a marriage feast in Revelation. Humanity’s existance as male and female is a reflection of who God is, and male-female marriage is the central picture of our relationship with Him.

In the beginning, God creates the first human and puts him to sleep, separating out the side of the man and fashioning a woman. Our word “sex” reflects this separation or division or cutting into two – male and female. Genesis points out that humanity is unique among creation for being made in the image of God. The woman and the man are fully human, both valuable, yet they are distinct and uniquely made for each other. It’s not just the Bible and Judaism and Christianity that teach this, but experience, nature and science acknowledge humanity’s sexual dimorphism, a sexual complementarity that virtually all cultures recognize.

It’s important  to understand that Christians cannot and will not leave the truth of revelation, a revelation that comes to us through nature and our own bodies, through millennia of Jewish and Christian living and teaching, and through God’s revelation in the Bible and by His Spirit. It would be folly for Christians to leave God’s truth. God’s truth about marriage, sex and sexuality stands now and throughout eternity, regardless of how politicians, academics and entertainers “evolve” and attempt to redefine things.

Same-sex unions do not reflect the reality of male and female bodies. Humans can participate in a variety of relationships and be quite inventive with sexual behaviors. But only a male and female sexually uniting can produce children. This is why all cultures have recognized marriage between a husband and wife as a unique relationship, a relationship designed to keep husbands and wives together and designed to keep children with the parents who made them – to be loved, nurtured, educated, disciplined and equipped to become healthy and functioning adults.

Despite years of brainwashing from academia, radical feminists, the media, and entertainment, most people know that men and women are different, unique and complementary. A society that attempts to erase male and female or to create new categories to stand next to male and female is living in unreality. Which of the supposed “other genders” being created by individuals or groups can reproduce or replicate itself?

The issue is not “equality” or “fairness.” It’s not “equal” that only women can carry another human and give birth. It’s not “fair” that only a man and a woman can make a child. It’s not “equal” that men and women are different. It’s “not equal” that people have different gifts and talents. And as I tell my kids, it’s “not fair” that they are born and live in the U.S. while others are born into abject poverty. Equality does not mean identical or interchangeable; it means we all have equal value and rights. But the issues are: what is marriage and what do children need?

Just as male and female are needed to create a baby, male and female are needed to raise a child. Children need a mother and father. Yes, there are tragic circumstances where a child loses one or both, but society works to mend that loss, as best it can, by providing what was lost – a mother or father or both. That is the ideal that society must acknowledge and promote and support, if it wishes to thrive. The growth of fatherless homes and of divorce has wreaked havoc in our world.  Further removing gender from the home will only compound the pain for children.

Be assured that Christians will work so that the needs and well-being of children are placed ahead of the desires of adults. We will fight to keep children from being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. We will work to give children what they deserve, a mother and a father. In the past weeks there has been a remarkable uprising in France against the notion of “same-sex marriage.” The movement includes gay-identified people and Christians of all stripes. Their marching cry: The rights of children trump the right to children.

Our love for children leads us to oppose abortion, to support and encourage marriage, to train parents to raise healthy children, to teach and equip the church and society to respect all life, and to protect all people from bullying and hatred – not just select groups or identities.

As Christians we also reject the reduction of humanity to groups defined by their sexual attractions and behaviors. Male and female are categories of existence – there is the biological reality of being male or female, and we live in the spiritual reality of a masculinity or femininity that reflects God’s image. It is de-humanizing to categorize individuals by the ever-proliferating alphabet of identities based on sexual attractions or behavior or “gender identity” – LGBBTTQQIAAFPPBDSM – however many letters are added. No. We stand with the truth that there are male and female. There is no recently discovered race of “homosexuals” or “gays” or “lesbians.” We don’t define people’s essence, their being, by their sexual appetites or by other desires.

Just as we don’t label people by sexual behavior or attractions, it would be helpful if activist groups would really engage on the issues, instead of smearing those who disagree with labels such as “haters,” “bigots,” “homophobes” and “anti-gay.” We stand opposed to an agenda that we believe harms individuals, families and our culture. But we don’t hate the individuals pushing that agenda. And we don’t hate individuals who wrestle with same-sex attractions or who are confused about their identity as male or female. We offer support, encouragement, resources and hope for these individuals.

We will also continue to speak out in the public square, arguing for the rights of all to freedom of speech, religion and association. We know these rights are being assaulted, from groups like the ACLU, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and from a number of LGBT-identified activists and their allies. Recent examples include trying to eliminate funding for organizations like The Boy Scouts and The Salvation Army, attacking businesses like Chick-fil-A and its charitable foundation, creating laws against counselors who help men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions to follow their faith and vilifying a pastor who leads people to worship God and who works to stop sexual trafficking.

Do you notice something about these efforts? The groups and individuals under siege are doing good things – yet many LGBT-identified groups want to take away their rights, to silence them, to force them to agree, even if it means stopping the good they do. This is destructive and wrong, and it’s time for all people to recognize it and speak out against this – honestly and with civility, as difficult as that may be.

Our inalienable rights to life, liberty, free speech and freedom of religion do not come from the government, the media, academia, the entertainment world or those attempting to redefine marriage. They come from God. And they do not stop because someone disagrees or is offended.

Finally, I would appeal to you, Joseph, and to others who read this, to consider the message of Christianity. Yes, we are all made in God’s image, male and female, but we are all horribly impacted and broken by sin. Sin is a destroyer. When Jesus began his ministry, he preached a gospel of repentance. In essence, he said stop going the direction you are going, turn around and put your confidence in me. I will forgive your sins, and as you follow me, I will free you from bondage to sin, guilt and shame. Jesus said that he is the way to Father God, and that he will send his Spirit to live in you to bring truth, change, healing and new life. We have the choice to bear our sins or to allow Jesus to be the sin-bearer for us.

I wrestled for years with same-sex attractions, lust, pornography and sexual sin (and plenty of other sins, too). It was not an easy path, but through the church and through God’s grace, truth and power, I followed Jesus and allowed him to change my life. I will not turn back down that road again, through God’s strength and grace. Joseph – I urge you to turn and follow Jesus with me.

What Kind of ‘Christian’ is the President?

31 Jan

By David Wheaton, host of the Christian Worldview radio program:

“By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7: 16-20)

[Recently] Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as president of the United States.  In his inaugural address, President Obama outlined his vision for America, promoting liberal policies in terms of “equality” and “justice” for those he deems marginalized.  One example is when he said:

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

President Obama claims to be a Christian.  And yet how can a Christian so strongly advocate for what the Bible clearly calls sin (i.e. homosexuality)?  How can a Christian be so zealously in favor of continuing and expanding the killing of unborn babies?  What kind of “Christian” is Barack Obama?

Last Saturday on The Christian Worldview, Jefrey Breshears, author of the book The Gospel According to Barack, discussed the book’s subtitle, Where Did Barack Obama Get His Ideas About Christianity?  We’ve previously analyzed the president’s political worldview; this time we looked at his religious worldview.

Listen to the program here.

No, Piers Morgan, the Bible does not Need Updating

18 Jan

Listening to The Christian Worldview radio program recently, host David Wheaton played audio of Piers Morgan’s interview with Rick Warren. Morgan asked Warren if the Bible should be updated to get with the times. This is the 21st– century after all.

For a pastor, Warren stumbled badly and could not coherently articulate a proper response. I wanted so much to respond then. And now I’m taking the opportunity to do so right here.

So, should the Bible be updated to fit the demands of those who don’t believe in it?

No! Our culture isn’t progressing; it’s declining. It’s a coarse culture in a perverse generation.

God has our best interests in mind. It’s reflected in His Word.

People have the free will to accept or reject God’s Word. But has the rejection of it been a good thing or a bad thing? Let me ask additional questions to answer this question.

How many people have died of AIDS? Drunk driving? Alcoholism or drug abuse? Suicide?

How many women and children have been killed by live-in boyfriends?

Has hedonism made people’s lives better? Or worse?

Has pornography harmed people or enriched their lives?

How many billions of dollars has government spent trying to pick up the pieces of broken families?

How many men who grew up without accountable fathers are in prison?

How many marriages have been ruined by compulsive gambling?

Is cheating in sports not rampant?

The answers to these rhetorical questions are obvious. The lesson is to be careful for what you wish for.

If more people heeded God’s timeless Word, it would be a much better world with less crime, less hurting, and less suffering.

Piers, now let’s go a different direction. Let’s suppose you invented a widget and opened a factory to mass produce widgets. Each product is sold with an instruction manual. But unfortunately a few people didn’t bother to read the instructions.

As a result of misusing the widget, some people were badly injured. Some even died. Many people accused you of intolerance for including an instruction manual with your product. They claimed you are evil for telling them the best and the safest way to use the product.

But you say you had their best intentions in mind when you wrote the manual.

That’s how it is with God’s Word. He tells us how we can live victoriously by living according to His Word. We can choose to ignore His advice and live life our way. That’s what we’re seeing with many in the world today. No, God, I’ll handle it my way, I don’t need you.

You see the results every day, and it’s not a pretty picture: tyranny, murder, rape, drugs, violence, STDs, AIDs, hate, death, socially unredeeming media, hopelessness, depravity.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our culture can be redeemed. Abstinence, fidelity, honesty, respect, and the Golden Rule are within our reach. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

No, Piers, the Bible does not need updating for the 21st century. The world needs the timeless, unchanging, sustaining Word today, tomorrow, and always. The free gifts of forgiveness, salvation and everlasting life are available for all.

Newsweek Takes Final Shot at Christ

18 Dec

By Albert Mohler Jr.

The major festivals of the Christian year often prompt major cover stories in the nation’s weekly news magazines. Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report all regularly feature major articles timed for Christmas and Easter. The days of these cover articles may soon be over, however, since US News & World Report is no longer publishing a print edition, and Newsweek’s final print edition will be dated December 31, 2012.

In years past, these cover articles had featured the work of reporters who interviewed a range of scholars and authorities from several theological perspectives. More recently, both Time and Newsweek have instead featured essays written by a single author.

Timed for this Christmas, Newsweek just released a cover essay by Bart D. Ehrman, who is well-known for his belief that the New Testament is largely historical fiction. “Who is Jesus?” is the question on the cover. “The Myths of Jesus” is the headline on the essay itself.

Newsweek’s agenda is clear, and it has chosen to feature a cover article denying the historical basis of Christmas as one of its last print editions.

Ehrman begins, predictably, by reviewing the controversy concerning the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” that emerged earlier this year when Professor Karen King of Harvard University claimed a tiny papyrus fragment to be a monumental discovery. Even as she insisted that the fragment did not prove in any sense that Jesus had a wife, she fueled the confusion in carefully-staged media appearances in which she referred to the fragment as “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

A professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Ehrman’s academic specialization is in the history of the New Testament and its times. As such, he dismissed the papyrus fragment as either irrelevant or a hoax. He writes, “As it turns out, most experts on early Christianity have come to think the fragment is a hoax, a forgery produced in recent years by an amateur who, unlike King and scholars of her stature, was not well versed in the niceties of Coptic grammar and so was unable to cover up the traces of his own deceit.”

A close look at that statement reveals a strong critique of Professor King who, according to Ehrman’s logic, should have been able to detect problems with a papyrus fragment probably manufactured by an amateur.

Ehrman cites that controversy, however, in order to make the point that there were hundreds of “proto-gospels” about Jesus floating about in the first few centuries of the Christian church, and that much of what modern people think they know about Christmas is actually not to be found in the New Testament.

He rightly states:

“As Christians around the world now prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, it is worth considering that much of the ‘common knowledge’ about the babe in Bethlehem cannot be found in any scriptural authority, but is either a modern myth or based on Gospel accounts from outside the sacred bounds of Christian Scripture.”

Of course, that is profoundly true. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was born in unusual circumstances and placed in a manger because “there was no room in the inn.” There is no innkeeper in the New Testament, however. There is no record of the number of the magi, no reference to December 25 as the date of Christ’s birth, and no mention of barnyard animals, much less a little drummer boy.

Beyond these rather familiar issues, Ehrman also points to a host of claims about Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the larger Christmas story that amount to “legends and fabrications” that are rightly recognized as implausible and untrue.

Ehrman then turns to press his case on the New Testament itself. After reviewing a number of traditions and non-biblical accounts he asks, “Are the stories about Jesus’ birth that are in the New Testament any less unbelievable?”

He then says that the answer to that question “depends on whom you ask.” To leave no doubt, Ehrman answers the question directly in his essay. The New Testament writings “are not historically reliable descriptions of what really happened when Jesus was born,” he asserts.

Ehrman juxtaposes those who are “interested in affirming the narratives of Scripture” and those who are more interested in “knowing what actually happened in the past.”

He then explains:

“And there is indeed a very wide swath of scholars—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, agnostic, and others—who have a very different view of the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament and who realize that there are problems with the traditional stories as they are recounted for us in Matthew and Luke, the only two Gospels that contain infancy narratives. However valuable these writings may be for theological reflection on the meaning and importance of Jesus—and why should anyone deny that they are tremendously valuable for that?—they are not the sorts of historical sources that we might hope for if we are seriously engaged in trying to reconstruct the events of history.”

In other words, Ehrman argues that Matthew and Luke simply can’t be trusted to convey historical truth. He points to what he insists are inconsistencies and erroneous historical claims, arguing that though some attempt to explain these questions in an attempt to affirm the veracity of the gospels, it is better just to abandon them altogether if you are “seriously engaged in trying to reconstruct the events of history.”

Just as a practical matter, a reading of Bart Ehrman’s many books, along with similar efforts, reveals that those who claim to abandon the New Testament in order to “reconstruct the events of history” find themselves coming back to the New Testament again and again. The reason for this is simple — there are no comparable sources.

Ehrman reveals his real agenda in the sentence that follows his denial of the historical truthfulness of the New Testament. He asserts, “For some Christian believers that is a problem; for others, it is a liberation, as it frees the believer from having to base faith on the uncertainties provided by the imperfect historical record and the fallible historians who study it.”

In Ehrman’s view, liberation comes in freeing the believer from a faith based in the claims of the New Testament, or in any historical record, for that matter.

The interesting point about Ehrman’s proposed path of liberation for Christian believers is the fact that Ehrman is himself no longer a believer. He was once a conservative evangelical, but now describes himself as an agnostic who has left the church.

Like many others, Ehrman tries to argue that the New Testament is still useful for “theological reflection on the meaning and importance of Jesus.” He asks, “And why should anyone deny that they are tremendously valuable for that?.”

But the New Testament does not present itself merely for the purpose of theological reflection. It makes unvarnished historical claims and direct statements of fact. Ehrman attempts to sideswipe this truth, stating that the New Testament contains writings identified as “gospels” rather than “histories.” But the word “history” in that sense is a fairly modern invention. The gospels do contain interpretation and theological elaboration, but all four gospels, including Matthew and Luke, contain explicit and pervasive historical material — the bedrock historical claims of Christianity itself.

Christianity stands or falls on the truth concerning Jesus, and thus it also stands or falls on the authority and truthfulness of the Bible. What you believe about historical truth defines what you believe about Jesus Christ. Without the revealed truths of the New Testament, there is no Christianity, just superstitions and fantasies about Jesus.

Interestingly, Bart Ehrman does believe that Jesus existed. In a recent book he debunks those who dismiss all claims about Christ as mere myth. He believes Jesus to have been a Jewish apocalyptic prophet, but not God incarnate in human flesh.

The cover article in the magazine, timed for maximum publicity at Christmas, was a premeditated act. Securing Bart Ehrman to write the essay set the course, and the cover art is intended to sell the magazine.

So, in the waning days of Newsweek as a print magazine, the editors decided to take on the New Testament. Readers should note carefully that it is Newsweek, and not the New Testament, that is going out of print.

 

 

 

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship

24 Oct

By Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

The whole world changed on Tuesday. At least, that is what many would have us to believe. Smithsonianmagazine, published by the Smithsonian Institution, declares that the news released Tuesday was “apt to send jolts through the world of biblical scholarship — and beyond.” Really?

What was this news? Professor Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School announced at a conference in Rome that she had identified an ancient papyrus fragment that includes the phrase, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” Within hours, headlines around the world advertised the announcement with headlines like “Ancient Papyrus Could Be Evidence that Jesus Had a Wife” (The Telegraph).

The Smithsonian article states that “the announcement at an academic conference in Rome is sure to send shock waves through the Christian world.” The magazine’s breathless enthusiasm for the news about the papyrus probably has more to do with advertising its upcoming television documentary than anything else, but the nation’s most prestigious museum can only injure its reputation with this kind of sensationalism.

A Fragment of a Text, an Even More Fragmentary Argument

What Karen King revealed on Tuesday was a tiny papyrus fragment with Coptic script on both sides. On one side the fragment includes about 30 words on eight fragmentary lines of script. The New York Times described the fragment as “smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass.” The lines are all fragmentary, with the third line reading “deny. Mary is worthy of it,” and the next reading “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” The fifth states, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

The papyrus fragment, believed to be from the fourth century, was delivered to Professor King by an anonymous source who secured the artifact from a German-American dealer, who had bought it years ago from a source in East Germany. As news reports made clear, the fragment is believed by many to be an authentic text from the fourth century, though two of three authorities originally consulted by the editors of the Harvard Theological Review expressed doubts. Such a find would be interesting, to be sure, but hardly worthy of the international headlines.

The little piece of ancient papyrus with its fragmentary lines of text is now, in the hands of the media, transformed into proof that Jesus had a wife, and that she was most likely Mary Magdalene. Professor King will bear personal responsibility for most of this over-reaching. She has called the fragment nothing less than “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” — a title The Boston Globe rightly deemed “provocative.” That same paper reported that Professor King decided to publicize her findings before additional tests could verify the fragment’s authenticity because she “feared word could leak out about its existence in a way that sensationalized its meaning.” Seriously? King was so concerned about avoiding sensationalism that she titled the fragment “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?”

This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. One British newspaper notes that the claims about a married Jesus seem more worthy of fans of Dan Brown’s fictional work, The Da Vinci Code, than “real-life Harvard professors.” If the fragment is authenticated, the existence of this little document will be of interest to historians of the era, but it is insanity to make the claims now running through the media.

Professor King claims that these few words and phrases should be understood as presenting a different story of Jesus, a different gospel. She then argues that the words should be read as claiming that Jesus was married, that Mary Magdalene was likely his wife. She argues further that, while this document provides evidence of Jesus’ marital status, the phrases do not necessarily mean he was married. More than anything else, she argues against the claim that Christianity is a unified body of commonly-held truths.

Those familiar with Karen King’s research and writings will recognize the argument. Her 2003 book, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle, argued that another text from the era presented Mary Magdalene as the very model for apostleship.

A Preference for Heterodoxy

The thread that ties all these texts and arguments together is the 1945 discovery of some 52 ancient texts near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt. These texts are known to scholars as Gnostic literature. The texts present heretical narratives and claims about Jesus and his message, and they have been a treasure trove for those seeking to replace orthodox Christianity with something different.

Several ambitions drive this effort. Feminists have sought to use the Nag Hammadi texts to argue that women have been sidelined by the orthodox tradition, and that these Gnostic texts prove that women were central to the leadership of the early church, perhaps even superior to the men. Others have used the Nag Hammadi texts to argue that Christianity was diverse movement marked by few doctrinal concerns until it was hijacked by political and ecclesiastical leaders, who constructed theological orthodoxy as a way of establishing churchly power in the Roman Empire and then stifling dissent. Still others argue that Christianity’s moral prohibitions concerning sexuality, and especially homosexuality, were part of this forced orthodoxy which, they argue, was not the essence of true Christianity. More than anything else, many have used the Nag Hammadi texts as leverage for their argument that Christianity was originally a way of spirituality centered in the teachings of a merely human Christ — not a message of salvation through faith in a divine Jesus who saves sinners through the atonement he accomplished in his death and resurrection.

Professor King, along with Princeton’s Elaine Pagels, has argued that the politically powerful leaders who established what became orthodox Christianity silenced other voices, but that these voices now speak through the Nag Hammadi texts and other Gnostic writings. Writing together, King and Pagels argue that “the traditional history of Christianity is written almost solely from the viewpoint of the side that won, which was remarkably successful in silencing or distorting other voices, destroying their writings, and suppressing any who disagreed with them as dangerous and obstinate ‘heretics.’”

King and Pagels both reject traditional Christianity, and they clearly prefer the voices of the heretics. They argue for the superiority of heterodoxy over orthodoxy. In the Smithsonian article, King’s scholarship is described as “a kind of sustained critique of what she called the ‘master story’ of Christianity: a narrative that casts the canonical texts of the New Testament as a divine revelation that passed through Jesus in ‘an unbroken chain’ to the apostles and their successors — church fathers, ministers, priests and bishops who carried  these truths into the present day.”

King actually argues against the use of terms like “heresy” and even “Gnostic,” claiming that the very use of these terms gives power to the forces of orthodoxy and normative Christianity. Nevertheless, she cannot avoid using the terms herself (even in the titles of her own books). She told Ariel Sabar of Smithsonian, “You’re talking to someone who’s trying to integrate a whole set of ‘heretical’ literature into the standard history.”

Orthodoxy and Heresy: The Continual Struggle

Those who use Gnostic texts like those found at Nag Hammadi attempt to redefine Christianity so that classic, biblical, orthodox Christianity is replaced with a very different religion. The Gnostic texts reduce Jesus to the status of a worldly teacher who instructs his followers to look within themselves for the truth. These texts promise salvation through enlightenment, not through faith and repentance. Their Jesus is not the fully human and fully divine Savior and there is no bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Were these writings found at Nag Hammadi evidence of the fact that the early church opposed and attempted to eliminate what it understood to be false teachings? Of course. That is what the church said it was doing and what the Apostles called upon the church to do. The believing church did not see heresy as an irritation — it saw heterodoxy as spiritual death. Those arguing for the superiority of the Gnostic texts deny the divine inspiration of the New Testament and prefer the heterodox teachings of the Gnostic heretics. Hauntingly, the worldview of the ancient Gnostics is very similar, in many respects, to various worldviews and spiritualities around us today.

The energy behind all this is directed to the replacement of orthodox Christianity, its truth claims, its doctrines, its moral convictions, and its vision of both history and eternity with a secularized — indeed, Gnositicized — new version.

Just look at the attention this tiny fragment of papyrus has garnered. Its few words and broken phrases are supposed to cast doubt on the New Testament and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. A tiny little fragment which, even if authentically from the fourth century, is placed over against the four New Testament Gospels, all written within decades of Jesus’ earthy ministry.

“The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?” Not hardly. This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. Nevertheless, do not miss what all this really represents — an effort to replace biblical Christianity with an entirely new faith.

Is the Bible Reliable?

28 Jul

Given that we have a trustworthy copy of the original, is the original itself trustworthy? Liberal scholars usually argue that the gospels were written long after the events they claim to  record. They typically date Mark between  AD 65–75, Matthew at mid 80s, Luke and Acts between 83–90 and John about the turn of the first century. So with  a time gap of 35–75 years, there is allegedly no chance that the gospels are reliable records.

The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no-one dreams of questioning.— NT  scholar F.F. Bruce

Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International writes:

However, there are cogent arguments by J.A.T. Robinson (1919–1983), who was a liberal and Bishop of Woolwich, for redating the gospels to between  AD 40 and  65.4 If Robinson is right, the gospels were written in the lifetimes of people who knew Jesus personally (~6  BC –  AD ~30 for His earthly lifetime). Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ prophecy of Jerusalem’s demise and the  destruction of the Temple (Matthew 24:2, Luke 21:20–24) but do not record its fulfilment in  AD 70.5 Matthew, especially, would not have failed to record yet another fulfilled prophecy if he had written  after the event. Acts, written by Luke after he wrote his gospel, mentions neither the fall of Jerusalem, the horrific persecutions under Nero Caesar (mid 60s)—although other persecutions  are mentioned—nor the martyrdoms of James (61), Paul (64) and Peter (65), so was probably written before then.6

Read more here

 

ASU Pushes Lucy the Ape as Human

13 Jul

For the past several years, Arizona State University has been the resting place for the fossils positioned as “Lucy,” the world’s oldest human. But examination reveals Lucy to have been an ape. Here’s evidence from Answers In Genesis, which reviewed the controversy during Lucy’s visit to St. Louis:

For the crowds who drift by the exhibit, the evidence seems pretty firm. Here is Lucy—the famed Australopithecus afarensis—staring thoughtfully into the distance. Her back straight, her eyes nearly human.

But like many such displays, this Living World exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo went far beyond the fossils that have been studied. When we look at those, the picture we get of Lucy is much different.

Most people don’t realize that the case for a human-like Lucy mainly depends on fossilized footprints. These impressions found at Laetoli in Tanzania are indistinguishable from human footprints you’d find on a beach. So, how do we know they weren’t packed down by Homo sapiens? According to evolutionists, they’re much too old.

You see, rather than question their dating methods, evolutionists believe these “human-like” footprints must be from the time before humans. Since humans weren’t there (in their scheme of history), they need something else that could have done it. And that’s where Lucy comes in.

When Lucy was discovered in 1974, the team found only 47 out of 207 bones. However, most of her hands, feet, and skull were missing. But that didn’t stop evolutionists from parading Lucy around as the one who could have tromped acrossAfrica—or from portraying her hands and feet as nearly human.

When we start from the Bible, a very different image of Lucy emerges. She was an amazingly designed ape, as this exhibit from the Creation Museum shows.

Since 1974, however, more bones have been recovered from other members of Lucy’s species. Her toes have been shown to curve like tree-dwelling apes; her shoulders have been found to be nearly identical to living great apes; her wrists resemble those of other knuckle-walking ape species; and her hands—far from being like human hands—are similar to those of chimpanzees. In other words, she was an ape—a tree-climbing, knuckle-walking, amazingly designed ape.

Like most things in historical science, so much depends on the starting point. Evolutionists over-emphasize human characteristics in the fossils and produce reconstructions of Lucy that stretch (literally) what has been found. They believe evolution happened, and they build from there.

But if we start from the Bible—the historical record of the universe that God gave us—we get a different perspective. The Bible says that God created apes and humans as distinct kinds on Day Six of the Creation Week about 6,000 years ago. So, Lucy isn’t one of us—just as her fossils show. In fact, when we start from that perspective, we realize that Lucy likely appeared much more like a small gorilla—or perhaps a chimpanzee.

So, the next time you’re faced with a philosophical Lucy staring into the distance remember this lesson. You’re not looking into history; you’re looking into evolutionary interpretation.