8/12/15

From Mark Copeland... "FOLLOWING JESUS WITHOUT DENOMINATIONALISM" Determining Our Standard Of Authority

              "FOLLOWING JESUS WITHOUT DENOMINATIONALISM"

                 Determining Our Standard Of Authority

INTRODUCTION

1. As dealt with in previous lessons, following Jesus without
   denominationalism begins by heeding the call of the gospel...
   a. For the Lord "calls" us through His gospel - 2Th 2:14
   b. As we respond to the call, the Lord Himself adds us to His church
      (His "called-out" group of people), not a man-made denomination
      - Ac 2:41,47

2. But I also suggested that if we are to be simply Christians,
   members of the Lord's church as we read about in the New Testament,
   then we must follow the example of the early church who "continued
   steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - cf. Ac 2:42

3. The importance of this relates very closely to the subject of
   AUTHORITY IN RELIGION...
   a. It is impossible to maintain unity unless we can agree upon a
      "standard" of authority
   b. This is true in all areas of life
      1) Imagine the confusion if we did not have a standard of
         authority relating to weights and measures
      2) We could not even agree on the length of a line, the volume of
         a tank of gasoline, etc.
      3) Confusion would reign supreme in the market place if we did 
         not all agree on one standard of authority in regards to 
         weights and measures
   c. An essential key to having unity on any subject is this:  WE MUST
      ACCEPT AND SUBMIT TO THE SAME STANDARD OF AUTHORITY!

4. This is especially true in matters of religion...
   a. If people can agree on the standard of authority in religious
      matters, unity is possible when we submit to that same standard
   b. There are other elements necessary to have unity (which I will 
      discuss in a later lesson), but without a standard of authority
      upon which we all agree, unity is impossible!

[What should be the standard of authority for Christ's church?  Let's 
begin with a point with which I am sure all those professing to be 
Christians can agree...]

I. JESUS CHRIST HAS BEEN GIVEN ALL AUTHORITY

   A. SO HE CLAIMED...
      1. He claimed all authority in heaven and on earth has been given
         to Him - Mt 28:18
      b. He therefore expects us to observe all things He has commanded
         - Mt 28:19-20

   B. SO HIS APOSTLES TAUGHT...
      1. He is HEAD of the BODY (the church) - Ep 1:22-23
      2. As such, we are to submit to Him in everything - Ep 5:23-24

[If Jesus were on earth today, we could solve all religious questions
by simply asking Him.  But since He is not on earth, what then?

This leads to our next point...]

II. JESUS HAS DELEGATED AUTHORITY TO HIS APOSTLES

   A. TO RECEIVE CHRIST, WE MUST RECEIVE HIS APOSTLES...
      1. As Jesus taught in Jn 13:20
         a. Please note that the word "apostle" means "one sent"
         b. So as Jesus speaks of "whomever I send", He has particular
            reference to His apostles
      2. The apostles were sent as "ambassadors" for Christ - cf. 2 Co 5:20
      3. Therefore the early church "continued steadfastly in the 
         apostles' doctrine" - Ac 2:42

   B. TO ENSURE RELIABILITY, JESUS PROMISED THE HOLY SPIRIT...
      1. The Spirit would teach the apostles all things, reminding them
         of what Jesus spoke to them - Jn 14:26
      2. The Spirit would guide the apostles into ALL truth - Jn 16:
         12-13

   C. THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDED THEM INTO "ALL" THE TRUTH...
      1. Paul said he taught "the WHOLE counsel of God" - cf. Ac 20:27
      2. Peter wrote that God "has given to us ALL THINGS that pertain
         to life and godliness" - 2Pe 1:3

[So the apostles were given ALL the truth God (and Christ) wanted us to
know.  If the apostles were on earth today, we could simply ask them to
settle religious differences.

But again, they are not on earth.  What then?]

III. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE APOSTLES HAVE WRITTEN WHAT CHRIST WANTS
     US TO KNOW!

   A. IN THE N.T., WE HAVE WHAT THE APOSTLES WERE GIVEN BY THE 
      SPIRIT...
      1. As Paul explained in Ep 3:1-5
      2. He wrote, so that when we read his writings we can have his
         same understanding
      3. Peter wrote his epistles that we might always be reminded -
         2Pe 1:12-15; 3:1-2

   B. IN THE N.T., WE HAVE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD HIMSELF...
      1. As Paul made clear in 1Co 14:37
      2. As Peter confirmed, such writings as Paul's were considered
         Scripture - 2Pe 3:15-16
      3. Therefore, when we have questions about what the Lord would
         have us to do...
         a. We don't have to ascend to heaven for an answer
         b. We don't have to ask Jesus personally, nor His apostles
         ...we simply need to turn to the apostles' writing (i.e., the New Testament)!

[In the New Testament, the repository of the "apostles' doctrine", is
where we can turn to learn the will of Jesus, given through His 
selected and inspired ambassadors, the apostles.

But this raises other questions:  Is the New Testament a complete guide
for us today?  Is it sufficient?]

IV. THE NEW TESTAMENT IS A COMPLETE, ALL-SUFFICIENT GUIDE

   A. IT MUST BE COMPLETE, FOR "THE FAITH" HAS BEEN REVEALED "ONCE FOR
      ALL" - Jude 3
      1. "Once for all" literally means "one time for all time"
      2. We cannot expect further revelation in the future
      3. The writings of the apostles as collected in the New Testament
         are all we have
      4. Our task, is not to look for further revelation, but to 
         "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all 
         delivered to the saints"!

   B. ACCORDING TO THE APOSTLES THEMSELVES, THESE WRITINGS (SCRIPTURES)
      ARE INDEED SUFFICIENT!
      1. Sufficient to make one complete, furnished unto every good 
         work - 2Ti 3:16-17
      2. They provide all we need to enjoy life and godliness - 2Pe 1:3
      3. By heeding the writings of the apostles...
         a. We will have the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ 
            - cf. 2Pe 1:8-9
         b. An abundant entrance will be supplied into the everlasting
            kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - cf. 2Pe 1:
            10-11

   C. WE ARE LEFT WITH GOD'S PROVIDENCE AND HIS WORD...
      1. As Paul prepared the elders of the church at Ephesus for his
         departure, he commended them to God and the word of His grace
         - Ac 20:32
      2. He did not instruct them to appoint apostles to take his place
      3. He did not instruct them to seek further revelation (for Paul
         had already proclaimed "the whole counsel of God" to them - 
         Ac 20:27)
      4. He simply directed them to two things:
         a. To God Himself (i.e., His Divine Providence)
         b. The word of His grace (that word which had been revealed by
            Paul himself)
      5. These two blessings, Paul was confident, were able to do two 
         things:
         a. Build them up
         b. Give them an inheritance among all those who are sanctified

CONCLUSION

1. The "New Testament", then, is how...
   a. Christ speaks to us today
   b. He leads us to life everlasting!

2. It is through the writing of the apostles, the "apostles' doctrine",
   that the Lord speaks and directs His Church!
   a. It is the "apostles' doctrine" that is the standard of authority
      in matters of religion
   b. It is the "apostles' doctrine" in which we must "continue 
      steadfastly"! - cf. Ac 2:42

3. There is more to be said about "authority in religion", which we 
   will cover in the next lesson

But I hope that our attitude is such that what was said about the 
Thessalonians can also be said of us:

   "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when
   you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed
   it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God,
   which also effectively works in you who believe." - 1Th 2:13

Is that your attitude toward the "apostles' doctrine"?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

More Stars than We Thought by Kyle Butt, M.A.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=3574

More Stars than We Thought

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

When Moses recorded God’s promise to Abraham about the multitude of Abraham’s descendants, the ancient readers did not have any idea just how right Moses was. In Genesis 15:5, God said to Abraham: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.” God used the incalculable number of the stars as a hyperbole to explain to Abraham that his descendants would be incalculable as well. This sentiment was reiterated in Jeremiah 33:22 when God promised: “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”

The fact that the stars are innumerable aids in defending the Bible as divinely inspired (see Butt, 2002). But recent research makes that point even clearer. New discoveries and calculations by researchers from Yale and Harvard suggest that our generally accepted estimations about the number of stars are considerably wrong. The fresh data published in Nature indicates that “there are a mind-blowing 300 sextillion of them [stars—KB], or three times as many as scientists previously calculated. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros or 3 trillion times 100 billion” (Borenstein, 2010).

These new numbers are based on the idea that elliptical galaxies are composed differently than spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way. Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, using the Keck telescope in Hawaii, recently peered into eight elliptical galaxies and explained: “We’re seeing 10 or 20 times more stars than we expected” (as quoted in Borenstein, 2010).

The fact that our best astronomical star counts could be off by over 200 sextillion stars tells us much about what scientists really know. First, it helps us understand that astronomers and cosmologists are often wrong—on a very large scale. Those who have scrutinized the modern notion of the Big Bang have been aware of this for a while (see May, et al., 2003). Second, it adds more credence to the biblical truth that the stars are, veritably, innumerable. Third, it underscores the psalmist’s statement that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Not a shred of legitimate scientific evidence can suggest a reasonable, naturalistic cause for such a massive amount of stars. Only an omnipotent, supernatural Creator supplies the necessary power for such an immense, star-filled sky.

REFERENCES

Borenstein, Seth (2010), “Starry, Starry, Starry Night: Star Count May Triple,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101201/ap_on_sc/us_sci_starry_night.

Butt, Kyle (2002), “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1791.

May, Branyon, et al., (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.

God, Haiti, and Suffering by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1436

God, Haiti, and Suffering

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

January 12, just before 5 p.m. A massive earthquake, magnitude 7.0, struck Haiti near the country’s capital. United Nations officials estimated 50,000 fatalities, but according to Haitian government figures, the death toll is at 200,000, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. Those left homeless now number in the millions (Carroll, 2010; “Haiti Earthquake...,” 2010; Kates, 2010; Haven and Melia, 2010). Scenes of human suffering—injured children, weeping mothers, the bodies amid the rubble—cannot help but evoke heartfelt sorrow and sympathy. Christians automatically mobilize during such times to provide comfort and assistance to the afflicted (James 2; Proverbs 19:17; 21:13; 28:27). Indeed, those nations (like America and Great Britain) and organizations (like the Red Cross), who historically share the Christian worldview, typically surpass non-Christian countries in benevolent outpouring (Indian Ocean-Earthquake..., 2010; “Tsunami Aid...,” 2005; “Humanitarian Response...,” 2010).
As shocking and heart-rending as this event may seem, many other natural disasters have occurred in human history that compare with the Haiti earthquake in its devastation. In America alone, several earthquakes have exceeded the magnitude of the Haiti earthquake. On December 16, 1811, two earthquakes with approximate magnitudes of 8.0 struck southeast Missouri, followed by two additional earthquakes in the same area over the next two months, measuring 7.8 and 7.4 respectively. New Madrid, Missouri was destroyed, and the course of the Mississippi River was permanently changed, with land on one side of the river shifting to the opposite side of the riverbed (Fleury, 2008a). On April 18, 1906 an earthquake, with a magnitude estimated between 7.7 to 8.3 on the Richter scale, struck San Francisco, killing some 3,000 people and leaving another 250,000 homeless (Fleury, 2007b). On March 27, 1964, Alaska was struck by an earthquake measuring 9.2—the third largest recorded in the world—devastating Anchorage (Fleury, 2007a). On October 17, 1989 an earthquake with a surface magnitude of 7.1 struck 10 miles northeast of Santa Cruz, California, some 60 miles southeast of San Francisco and Oakland. Sixty-seven died, with 3,757 more injured and 12,000 made homeless (Fleury, 2008b).
Throughout China’s history, extensive flooding has occurred countless times as a result of the mighty 3,000-mile-long Hwang Ho River. Several of the most terrible floods, with their ensuing famines, have been responsible for the deaths of more than a million people at a time. The southern levee of the river failed in Hunan Province in 1887, affecting a 50,000 square mile area (“Hwang Ho,” 2004). More than 2 million people died from drowning, starvation, or the epidemics that followed (“Huang He...,” 2004). In contrast, though considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, the death toll for hurricane Katrina in 2005 was about 1,600, with 1.7 million people displaced across the country (Janega, 2009; “Hurricanes,” n.d.). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake that created the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, resulting in more than 150,000 people dead or missing, and millions more homeless in 11 countries (“The Deadliest...?” 2005; “Earthquake and Tsunami...,” 2008).
In reality, such events have occurred repetitiously throughout the history of the world, and continue to do so—constantly: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis, droughts, and volcano eruptions. In fact, natural disasters kill one million people around the world each decade, and leave millions more homeless, according to the United Nation’s International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (“Disasters...,” 1997).
This circumstance inevitably elicits the pressing question: “WHY?” “Why would God allow such loss of life, inflicted on countless numbers of seemingly innocent people?” The number one argument marshaled by atheists to advocate their disbelief in God is the presence of widespread, seemingly purposeless suffering. They insist that if an infinite Being existed, He would exercise His perfect compassion and His omnipotence to prevent human suffering (e.g., Lowder, 2004; cf. Jackson, 2001). Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins sarcastically declares:
We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate: a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, unpremeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery. The religious mind, however, hubristically appropriates the blind happenings of physics for petty moralistic purposes (2010).
For rabid atheistic evolutionists like Dawkins, to suggest that God uses natural phenomena for earthly purposes is hypocritical, “evil nonsense.” To them, the material realm has no ultimate purpose or meaning—other than what humans subjectively assign to it. Even for many people who do not embrace formal atheism, the fact that God apparently seems willing to allow misery and suffering to run rampant in the world, elicits a gamut of reactions—from perplexity and puzzlement to anger and resentment.

THE BIBLE HAS THE ANSWERS

If the Bible is the inspired Word of God (and it is—see Butt, 2007), then it is the only document on the planet that was superintended by God when it was produced. The Bible, therefore, is the only reliable guide for ascertaining the meaning of life and human existence. Only the Bible can make sense of the circumstances that attend life on Earth. And, indeed, it provides the perfect explanations for the occurrence of earthquakes and other natural phenomena. Its handling of the subject is logical, sufficient, and definitive.

“Vale of Soul-Making”

In order to make sense of various aspects of the created order, like earthquakes, one must ask the logically prior question: What is the purpose of the created order? If the atheists and evolutionists are correct, the physical realm, with its human inhabitants, has no purpose, but rather, is a monumental “cosmic accident” (Gould, 1989, p. 44). As Cornell University professor and atheist, Dr. Will Provine, maintained:
Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear—and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either (Provine and Johnson, 1994, 16[1], emp. added).
If, on the other hand, the God of the Bible exists, He is the Creator responsible for the material Universe. Why did He create the Universe, specifically the Earth, and then create humans to inhabit the Earth?
The Bible teaches that God created the world to be the most suitable environment in which humans are enabled to make their own decisions concerning their ultimate destiny (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We humans have been provided with the ideal environment in which we may freely accept or reject God’s will for our lives—what Keats called, “The vale of Soul-making” (1899, p. 369). More specifically, the one essential purpose which God had for creating the world was
the creation of a being (who would have descendents like himself) who would be capable of entering into fellowship with him, who would be capable of becoming a son of God, who (thus) would have to be capable of deciding freely to believe him, to love him with all of his heart, to submit to him in obedience, and whom God could love and eventually glorify (Warren, 1972, p. 44).
Such an environment would necessarily have to possess certain characteristics conducive to the accomplishment of this central purpose. Those characteristics would include an environment that would supply man’s basic physical needs (since humans have physical bodies), allow him to be a free moral agent, to be challenged, and to learn the things he most needs to learn (Warren, p. 47). But why would God allow human beings to be subjected to unpleasant, tragic events—like earthquakes, floods, tornados, and hurricanes? A prominent biblical answer to that question is: natural disasters and nature’s destructive forces are the result of specific conditions that are necessary to God’s providing humanity with this ideal environment.
God is not blameworthy for having created such a world, since He had a morally justifiable reason for having done so. Human existence on Earth was not intended to be permanent. Rather, the Creator intended life on Earth to serve as a temporary interval of time for the development of one’s spirit. Life on Earth is a probationary period in which people are given the opportunity to attend to their spiritual condition as it relates to God’s will for living. Natural disasters provide people with conclusive evidence that life on Earth is brief and uncertain (see Warren, 1972; Thompson, 1997). In the face of physical calamities, we humans would do well to contemplate our own fragility and finitude, and be driven to look beyond ourselves to a higher Power Who can inform us as to our raison d’etre—our reason for existing.

Punishment for Sin

But does God ever harness natural phenomena—the forces of nature—as tools of chastisement to punish people for their sins? The Bible answers strongly in the affirmative (see Miller, 2005). Indeed, God did so many times in Bible history. He scourged Egypt with plagues of frogs, lice, flies, animal disease, boils, hail, and locusts (Exodus 8-10). He used seismic activity against Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:31-33; cf. Psalm 106:17). He punished the grumbling Israelites with venomous snakes (Numbers 21:6). He punished Ahab and idolatrous Israel with drought for three and a half years (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). He sent a hurricane-like wind upon the sea, causing Jonah and his shipmates to fear the destruction of the ship (Jonah 1:4ff.). Nahum announced God’s fury against the Assyrian Empire with the words: “The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him” (1:5-6). Job acknowledged: “He removes the mountains, and they do not know when He overturns them in His anger; He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble” (9:5-6; cf. Isaiah 2:19-21). The psalmist invites: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth” (46:8). On the occasion of the giving of the Decalogue, “[t]he earth shook.... Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel” (Psalm 68:8; cf. Exodus 19:18). Indeed, “[i]n His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:4-5).
The prophet Joel interpreted a devastating locust plague as indicative of divine disfavor, punishment for sin, and motivation to repent: “It shall come as destruction from the Almighty.” (1:15). He repeatedly referred to the “day of the LORD” (1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14) as a point in time when God intervenes in the affairs of men in human history, harnessing the forces of nature, or even foreign armies, to take vengeance on those who need chastisement to bring them to their spiritual senses. In the context of Joel, the nation deserved the “day of the LORD” because of the rampant immorality and wickedness. The natural disaster she suffered was designed to elicit repentance, alter her behavior, and redirect her to spiritual reality.
The great prophet Amos also described the “day of the LORD” (5:18,20) in terms of physical catastrophe, including famine, drought, blight, and locusts (4:6-11; cf. 7:1). He added this chilling warning: “Prepare to meet your God!” (4:12). He declared that the God that formed and controls the constellations in the Universe, and can bring flood upon the land is the same God that “rains ruin upon the strong, so that fury comes upon the fortress”(5:9): “The LORD is His name” (vs. 8). The book of Revelation uses figurative, apocalyptic language to allude to this same feature of God’s activity in history—the use of natural phenomena as tools of chastisement (6:5-17; 8:7-12; cf. Summers, 1951, pp. 143-145,155ff.).
A word of caution: The Bible does not claim to provide humans with complete explanations regarding the forces operating within the physical Universe. But it does offer some clarification regarding natural calamities, shedding light on some of the reasons for phenomena like famines, earthquakes, and floods. It does not claim to offer every reason, and it certainly does not claim to explain every occurrence of a natural calamity. While one occurrence may be the direct result of God’s punitive punishment on people due to their wickedness, another such catastrophe may have no such specific intention. Rather, it could be the result of the entrance of sin into the world, or it may simply be the result of the coincidental, God-ordained physical forces necessary to the operation of the Universe (e.g., Matthew 6:45).
In any case, we are speaking specifically about natural phenomena—features of the created order that operate according to set laws throughout history. Such phenomena are to be distinguished from supernatural occurrences where God has stepped in and suspended the laws of nature that He, Himself, set into motion (e.g., Genesis 19:24; Exodus 7:20; Leviticus 10:2; 1 Kings 18:38). The only way to know when a natural disaster is due specifically to divine retribution is if an inspired prophet sent by God so interprets the event. No such prophets exist today (Miller, 2003a; Miller, 2003b). Nevertheless, we cannot assume that since the age of miracles has passed that God no longer intervenes in history via natural occurrences. God still rules in the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:17), and it is still true that “[t]he effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16; cf. 1 Kings 18:41-45; McGarvey 1894, pp. 320 ff.). He still controls the forces of nature, “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Indeed, even now, it is Jesus Who is “upholding all things by the word of His power,” and “in Him all things consist” (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17). “[E]ven the winds and the sea obey Him” (Matthew 8:27). “O LORD God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O LORD?.... You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them” (Psalm 89:8-9). God declared to Isaiah: “Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink because there is no water, and die of thirst” (Isaiah 50:2). God articulated through Jeremiah that a nation’s iniquities cause it to forfeit the benevolent aspects of the natural order (5:22-25).
There is every reason to believe that God still uses natural calamities as formative influences in the world. While punishment is certainly a proper purpose to such discipline, the fact is that God simply wants defiant people to repent. He gets a nation’s attention by such means to cause the people to reflect upon their life and behavior. He benevolently subjects them to hardship and calamity in this life to prepare them for the life to come. The physical suffering that anyone endures in this life is not worthy to be compared with the eternal punishment awaiting those who leave this life in a state of rebellion against God (cf. Romans 8:18).
Sadly, few throughout history get the message. Most are like those to whom God sent His Old Testament prophets. When the prophet Hosea announced the judgments of God against the people as divine chastisement, he regretfully had to report: “But they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this” (Hosea 7:10). When God sent enemies against Israel, Isaiah bemoaned: “For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts” (9:13). Ezekiel described his contemporaries as “a rebellious nation.... For they are impudent and stubborn children” (2:3-4). Jeremiah said, “They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers. They are bronze and iron; they are all corrupters” (6:28)—which brings us to America’s own spiritual condition. If America continues down its present pathway of immorality and defiant rejection of biblical principles, can America expect to suffer increasing instances of natural calamities?

THE FOUNDERS AGREED

The Founders of the American Republic agreed with the Bible on this point. They believed that while personal sin is addressed by God in eternity at the Judgment, national sins are punished in time, in the course of history. The “Father of our country,” George Washington, articulated this principle in his first inaugural address on Thursday, April 30, 1789:
[T]here is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained (emp. added).
Washington believed that God’s treatment of America depended on America’s recognition of His moral and spiritual principles in her political activities. Disregarding Christian principles automatically means that a nation will forfeit the physical blessings available through God’s providential dealings.
Considered “The Father of the American Revolution,” Samuel Adams wrote a letter from Philadelphia to a friend, two months before the Declaration of Independence, on April 30, 1776, stating: “Revelation assures us that ‘Righteousness exalteth a Nation’—Communities are dealt with in this World by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general Character” (2006, p. 212, emp. added). After a passionate admonition to his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention to seek the favor and guidance of God in their deliberations, recognizing His providential kindness toward them, Benjamin Franklin insisted:
We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest (see Farrand, 1911, 1:451-452, emp. added).
The “Father of the Bill of Rights,” George Mason, insisted to his fellow constitutional delegates: “Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a Country. As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes & effects providence punishes national sins, by national calamities” (see Farrand, 2:370, emp. added). Delegate Luther Martin expressed the same viewpoint:
[I]t ought to be considered that national crimes can only be, and frequently are punished in this world, by national punishments; and that the continuance of the slave-trade, and thus giving it a national sanction and encouragement, ought to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and vengeance of Him, who is equally Lord of all, and who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American master (see Farrand, 3:211, emp. added).
Also speaking in the context of slavery, Thomas Jefferson warned: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever.... The almighty has no attribute which can take sides with us in such a contest” (1832, Query 18, pp. 170-171, emp. added).
The Founders went so far as to claim that the Revolutionary War itself was, to some extent, a punishment from God for the sins of the people. For example, on March 7, 1778, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation to the nation in which they alluded to “the evident tokens of his Displeasure” in permitting “the continuation of a cruel and desolating WAR in our land” (Journals of the..., 10:229). Their stated solution was for all Americans “to acknowledge his righteous Government, confess and forsake their evil Ways, and implore his Mercy” (10:229). On March 20, 1779, the Congress issued a similar proclamation, which commenced: “Whereas, in just Punishment of our manifold Transgressions, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all Events to visit these United States with a calamitous War” (Journals of the..., 13:343, emp. added). Again, the solution was for the citizenry to be “sufficiently awakened to a Sense of their Guilt” and “taught to amend their Lives and turn from their Sins, that so he might turn from his Wrath” (13:343). The Congress felt the same way in March of 1780 when they stated to the nation: “It having pleased the righteous Governor of the World, for the punishment of our manifold offences, to permit the sword of war still to harass our country, it becomes us to endeavour, by humbling ourselves before him, and turning from every evil way, to avert his anger and obtain his favour and blessing” (Journals of the..., 16:252-253, emp. added). A year later, the Congress again called upon the nation to “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and through the merits of our blessed Saviour, obtain pardon and forgiveness” (Journals of the..., 19:285, emp. added).
Both the Bible and the Founders of the American Republic stated unequivocally that God can and will allow natural calamities to be inflicted against peoples who commit iniquity and allow rampant immorality to prevail in society. Is it even remotely possible that Haiti is experiencing this phenomenon?

SUMMARY

Make no mistake: “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son” (Amos 7:14), and, as stated earlier, have no inspired link to deity by which to declare that Haiti is being punished for sin. No one should “speak falsely for God” (Job 13:7). Indeed, Pat Robertson misspoke when he boldly declared his assessment of the situation (Condon, 2010). Nevertheless, the evidence demonstrates that the country is particularly plagued by religious and moral factors among its population that are counterproductive to a healthy relationship with the God of the Universe. Haiti is notorious for its widespread practice of the false religion of voodoo (Guynup, 2004). Despite a heavy historical influence of Catholicism by way of the French colonials, “voodoo may be considered the country’s national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of voodoo” (Haggerty, 1989). What’s more, the country suffers from the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS outside of the African continent (Craythorne, 2006, p. 102). A 1989 Library of Congress study found that “[h]omosexual activity has contributed to the spread of AIDS in Haiti. AIDS transmission was also related to female and male prostitution. At least 50 percent of the female prostitutes in the capital city’s main prostitution center were believed to be infected with HIV” (Haggerty). In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers concluded that the initial introduction of the aids virus into America came via Haiti: “HIV went directly from Africa to Haiti, then spread to the United States and much of the rest of the world beginning around 1969” (Avasthi, 2007; Gilbert, et al., 2007, 104[47]:18566-18570; cf. Owen, 2006). Meanwhile in Haiti, “[t]he average age for young people to begin sexual relations is 12, with many young boys and girls starting to have sex as early as eight years old” (Caistor, 2003).
In an article titled “Haiti’s Avoidable Death Toll,” George Mason University’s Distinguished Professor of Economics, Walter Williams, insists that the high death toll and national inability to address domestic calamity is due to Haiti’s “self-inflicted poverty”—the result of Marxist inspired “restrictions on economic liberty” (2010). Several of these restrictions are rooted in moral and spiritual degradation. Bribery and other forms of corruption are a way of life for Haitians. Indeed, Haiti has a worldwide reputation for corruption. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. This index is a synthesis survey based on 13 different expert and business surveys. Haiti has been listed in the top 10 most corrupt nations for several years, taking the top spot in 2006, the number four spot in 2007 and 2008, and ranking 168 out of 180 in 2009 just behind Iran and eight other Muslim countries (“Corruption Perceptions...,” 2009). Williams observes:
Crime and lawlessness are rampant in Haiti. The U.S. Department of State website, long before the earthquake, warned, “There are no ‘safe’ areas in Haiti.... Kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, home break-ins and car-jacking are common in Haiti.” The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns its citizens that, “The level of crime in Haiti is very high and the police have little ability to enforce laws. Local authorities often have limited or no capacity to provide assistance, even if you are a victim of a serious crime.” Crime anywhere is a prohibitive tax on economic development and the poorest people are its primary victims (2010; cf. “Protest Demonstration...,” 2005; “Violent Demonstration...,” 2009; “Travel Advice...,” 2010).
While it is tenuous for ignorant, limited man to attempt an overall assessment of a nation’s spiritual condition, sufficient evidence exists to conclude that the moral and religious conditions of Haiti are significantly impaired and contrary to God’s Word. Since, in the words of the Father of our country, “the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on [such] a nation,” what Haiti needs in addition to material aid—and far more desperately—is instruction in the moral and spiritual principles of the New Testament.

CONCLUSION

Though politically incorrect, it is high time for the peoples of the world, from Muslim nations, Hindu nations, communistic/Marxist/socialist nations, to animistic, superstitious nations like Haiti, who openly acknowledge and envy America’s unprecedented wealth and progress (to the point that many are dying to get here), to likewise understand that America owes her incredible standing solely to the God of the Bible. He has blessed America because her founding principles openly acknowledged the one true God and sought to promote His religion and the moral principles of that religion (Miller, 2008; Miller, 2009). With widespread indications of the decline of Christianity mounting in America, Americans would do well to face reality: the corruption, immorality, and barbaric conditions that characterize many nations of the world will inevitably transform our own society into a nightmarish, immoral, social cesspool.
Do we really think that God will make an exception and exempt America from its own collection of natural calamities? Historical evidence exists to indicate that in 1811-1812, the town of New Madrid, Missouri was notoriously wicked:
Though it was prosperous as a business village and trading post, its inhabitants were noted for their impiety. All the worst elements of a frontier river town were to be found here in this place.... History says but little about the town prior to the earthquake, and that little is not to its credit. It is spoken of as the favorite resort of boatmen, who spent “their Sabbaths in drinking, gambling, and fighting.” Priest and preacher were unheard, or if they were listened to at all, it was with the utmost indifference (Musick, 1897, p. 143, emp. added).
San Francisco at the turn of the century was also widely recognized as a wicked city. The Barbary Coast was rampant with debauchery and every imaginable sexual sin from prostitution to homosexuality (cf. Boyd, 2003; Asbury, 1933). [NOTE: Another striking example is the report of history that at the time Pompey was obliterated by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, its citizens were notorious for their rampant immorality (e.g., Connie Gill, 2005; N.S. Gill, 2005).]
Christians understand that no matter how catastrophic, tragic, or disastrous an event may be in this world, it fits into the overall framework of soul-making—preparation for one’s departure from life into eternity. Likewise, the Christian knows that, although the great pain and suffering caused by natural disasters may be unpleasant, and may test one’s mettle, nevertheless, such suffering is neither dysteleological (purposeless) nor intrinsically evil. Nor is it a reflection on the existence of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent God. The only intrinsic evil is violation of God’s will, i.e., sin (1 John 3:4). What is required of all accountable persons is obedience to God’s revealed Word—even amid pain, suffering, sickness, disease, death, and, yes, earthquakes.

REFERENCES

Adams, Samuel (2006), The Writings of Samuel Adams, Volume III (1773-1777), ed. Harry Alonzo Cushing (Teddington, Middlesex: Echo Library).
Asbury, Herbert (1933), The Barbary Coast (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press).
Avasthi, Amitabh (2007), “AIDS Virus Traveled to Haiti, Then U.S., Study Says,” National Geographic News, October 29, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/10/071029-aids-haiti.html.
Boyd, Nan (2003), Wide Open Town (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Caistor, Nick (2003), “Haiti’s Aids and Voodoo Challenge,” BBC News, November 20, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3280749.stm.
Carroll, Rory (2010), “Haiti Homeless Reach 2 Million,” Guardian News, January 21, [On-line], URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/21/haiti-homeless-reach-2-million.
Condon, Stephanie (2010), “Pat Robertson Haiti Comments Spark Uproar,” CBS News, January 14, [On-line], URL: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/14/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry6096806.shtml.
“Corruption Perceptions Index” (2009), Transparency International, [On-line], URL: http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009.
Craythorne, Jennifer (2006), Assimilating to Black America: How the Identity Choices of Haitian Immigrant and Haitian-American Students are Impacted by Racial and Economic Segregation, University of Florida Ph.D. Dissertation, [On-line], URL: http://etd.fcla.edu/UF/UFE0017320/craythorne_j.pdf.
Dawkins, Richard (2010), “Hear the Rumble of Christian Hypocrisy,” The Times Online, January 29, [On-line], URL: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7007065.ece.
“The Deadliest Tsunami in History?” (2005), National Geographic News, January 7, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/65467352.html.
“Disasters: A Deadly and Costly Toll Around the World” (1997), FEMA News, [On-line], URL: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/stats.pdf.
“Earthquake and Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, 26 December 2004” (2008), U.S. Geological Survey, July 28, [On-line], URL: http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/tsunami/indianocean.html.
Farrand, Max, ed. (1911), The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. by Max Farrand (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), [On-line], URL: http://tinyurl.com/yk3lbt4.
Fleury, Maureen (2007a), “The Great Alaskan Earthquake 1964,” December 8, [On-line], URL: http://earthquakes.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_great_alaskan_earthquake_1964.
Fleury, Maureen (2007b), “The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake,” December 15, [On-line], URL: http://earthquakes.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_1906_san_francisco_earthquake.
Fleury, Maureen (2008a), “New Madrid Earthquake USA 1811-1812,” June 18, [On-line], URL: http://earthquakes.suite101.com/article.cfm/new_madrid_earthquake_18111812.
Fleury, Maureen (2008b), “1989 San Francisco Earthquake,” April 29, [On-line], URL: http://earthquakes.suite101.com/article.cfm/1989_san_francisco_earthquake.
Gilbert, Thomas P., et al. (2007), “The Emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and Beyond,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104[47]:18566-18570, November 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/104/47/18566.full?sid=e27a4f6a-638a-4938-b6e8-6650dea80ab4.
Gill, Connie (2005), “Brothel Pictures From Pompeii,” [On-line], URL: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/pompeii/ss/BrothelsPompeii.htm.
Gill, N.S. (2005), “Erotic Images from Pompeii and Herculaneum,” [On-line], URL: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/pompeii/a/SecretRoom.htm.
Gould, Stephen J. (1989), Wonderful Life (New York: W.W. Norton).
Guynup, Sharon (2004), “Haiti: Possessed by Voodoo,” National Geographic Channel, July 7, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0707_040707_tvtaboovoodoo.html.
Haggerty, Richard A., ed. (1989), Haiti: A Country Study (Washington, D.C.: GPO for the Library of Congress), [On-line], URL: http://countrystudies.us/haiti/41.htm.
“Haiti Earthquake of 2010” (2010), The New York Times, January 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.nytimes.com/info/haiti-earthquake-2010/.
Haven, Paul and Mike Melia (2010), “Haiti’s Mass Graves Swell; Doctors Fear More Death,” Associated Press, January 21, [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cb_haiti_earthquake.
“Huang He, or Hwang Ho”(2004), Britannica Student Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article?tocId=9274966.
“Humanitarian Response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake” (2010), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_response_to_the_2010_Haiti_earthquake#cite_ref-0.
“Hurricanes” (no date), Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, [On-line], URL: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mguide_nd.html. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mguide_nd.html.
“Hwang Ho” (2004), LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://32.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HW/HWANG_HO.htm.
Indian Ocean-Earthquake/Tsunami-December 2004 (2010), “Table A: List of All Commitments/Contributions and Pledges,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), [On-line], URL: http://ocha.unog.ch/fts/reports/daily/ocha_R10_E14794_asof___1001291628.pdf.
Jackson, Roy (2001), “The Problem of Evil,” The Philosopher’s Magazine Online, [On-line], URL: http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/rel_six.htm.
Janega, James (2009), “Katrina Victims Rebuilding Lives,” Chicago Tribune, August 28, [On-line], URL: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/aug/28/local/chi-katrina-chicago_janegaaug28.
Jefferson, Thomas (1832), Notes on the State of Virginia (Boston, MA: Lilly and Wait).
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Kates, Brian (2010), “Haiti: Another Earthquake—6.1 Aftershock Rocks Shellshocked Port-au-Prince,” New York Daily News, January 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/01/20/2010-01-20_60_earthquake_strikes_haiti_strong_aftershock_sends_people_ running_into_the_stre.html.
Keats, (1899), The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats, ed. Horace E. Scudder (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.), [On-line], URL: http://books.google.com/books?id= wIs6AAAAMAAJ&dq=George+and+Goergiana+Keats& source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Lowder, Jeffery (2004), “Logical Arguments From Evil,” Internet Infidels, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evil-logical.html.
McGarvey, J.W. (1894), Sermons (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing).
Miller, Dave (2003a), “Are There Modern-day Apostles?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2279.
Miller, Dave (2003b), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is America’s Iniquity Full?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/305.
Miller, Dave (2008), The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Dave (2009), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Musick, John (1897), Stories of Missouri (New York: American Book Company).
Owen, James (2006), “AIDS Origin Traced to Chimp Group in Cameroon,” National Geographic News, May 25, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/05/060525-aids-chimps.html.
“Protest Demonstration Notice” (2005), Embassy of the United States Port Au Prince Haiti, May 10, [On-line], URL: http://haiti.usembassy.gov/wm_15.html.
Provine, W.B. and Phillip E. Johnson (1994), “Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?” Origins Research 16(1), Fall/Winter, [On-line], URL: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm.
Summers, Ray (1951), Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Thompson, Bert (1997), “Divine Benevolence, Human Suffering, and Intrinsic Value,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/198.
“Travel Advice: Haiti” (2010), Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, February 10, [On-line], URL: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Haiti.
“Tsunami Aid: Who’s Giving What” (2005), BBC News, January 27, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4145259.stm.
“Violent Demonstration on Friday, September 11, 2009” (2009), Warden Message No. 87, Embassy of the United States Port Au Prince Haiti, May 10, [On-line], URL: http://haiti.usembassy.gov/uploads/sV/lK/sVlKGYFf194bgkUOJuSEYQ/Warden-Message-no.-87.pdf.
Warren, Thomas (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Washington, George (1789), “First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, [On-line], URL: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/wash1.asp.
Williams, Walter (2010), “Haiti’s Avoidable Death Toll,” The Patriot Post, January 20, [On-line], URL: http://patriotpost.us/opinion/walter-e-williams/2010/01/20/haitis-avoidable-death-toll/.

Chickens, Eggs, and Ultimate Origins by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=3527

Chickens, Eggs, and Ultimate Origins

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

More than 100 news organizations recently reported how scientists have answered once-and-for-all the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? According to Dr. Colin Freeman of the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, “[I]t had long been suspected that the egg came first—but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first” (as quoted in “Chicken...,” 2010). How did Freeman and the other scientists working with him come to this conclusion? They discovered that “the formation of eggs is possible only thanks to a protein found in chicken ovaries.... The protein is vital in kick-starting the crystallization process [of the egg—EL] (“Chicken...,” emp. added). Thus, “eggs have to be formed in chickens” (“Chicken...,” emp. added)—fully grown chickens with functional reproductive organs and the special protein called ovocledidin-17.
Unlike evolutionists, who, as Dr. Freeman observed, “suspected that the egg came first,” those who believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible (and its consistency with every unadulterated lesson we learn from nature) have long understood the reasonable answer to this question: God made all of His creation, including birds, fully grown (Genesis 1:20-23). From the beginning, birds were able to lay eggs and keep them warm, and then feed the chicks when they hatched. Having “momma” and “papa” bird around before baby bird, not only is biblical and scientific, it just makes sense. (As interesting as it is to read about chicken ovaries, ovocledidin-17, and the crystallization process, one cannot help but wonder how countries like the U.K. or the U.S, which are currently facing very difficult economic times, can justify spending thousands or millions of dollars on such unnecessary research!)
Sadly, all (or nearly all) of the news organizations that reported this latest research by Freeman have failed to ask the one question that the chicken/egg conundrum begs: If the chicken did come first, where did it come from? If there were no egg-laying chickens before the first chicken, from whence came the first chicken? Regardless of what alleged ancestor evolutionists propose for birds (and they strongly disagree with each other about bird origins; see Lyons, 2010), a person is still left to wonder: “Okay, so where did that supposed ‘evolutionary ancestor’ come from?” A person has two choices: (1) everything (including life itself) ultimately came from nothing; or (2) everything (including the various kinds of life on Earth) came from a supernatural, eternal Creator, Who exists outside of nature. Scripture, science, and reason all point to an eternal, omnipotent Creator (Romans 1:20; cf. Psalm 19:1-4), not to the mindless chances of evolution from nothing. Sadly, many have “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28, ASV).

REFERENCES

“Chicken-and-Egg Mystery Finally Cracked” (2010), July 14, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/07/14/chicken-egg-mystery-finally-cracked/?test=latestnews.
Lyons, Eric (2010), “Evolutionary Theory Changes Its Tune Again,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240366.

Exciting Stem-Cell News by Kyle Butt, M.A.


https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2183

Exciting Stem-Cell News

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

Embryos are fully human and deserve to be given all the rights inherent in personhood. This premise has been validated both biblically and scientifically (see Thompson and Harrub, 2001). Those in the scientific and medical communities who are pushing for expanding efforts in embryonic stem-cell research believe that human embryos should be created and destroyed for the sole purpose of harvesting the lines of embryonic stem cells they contain. In an effort to convince the masses that such barbaric injustice against human embryos is ethically permissible, embryonic stem-cell research supporters insist that research using embryonic stem cells will yield cures for a host of diseases.
Yet for all the potential that embryonic stem-cell research supposedly maintains, research and treatments using adult stems cells, in which human embryos are not murdered, has yielded far superior results (see Harrub, 2006). The latest research continues to provide promising stem-cell research options that do not result in the deaths of human embryos.
In the June 18 edition of Newsweek, Mary Carmichael reported on recent stem-cell research done with mice. She said: “Scientists revealed on Wednesday a new technique for bestowing all the flexibility of embryonic stem cells on mature skin cells in mice—an approach that could revolutionize medicine without the destruction of embryos” (2007, 149[25]:14). Concerning the newly discovered abilities of adult mice cells, Carmichael wrote that “scientists were ecstatic about the quasi-embryonic cells they’d created” (p. 14). In the brief, two-column article, Carmichael cited two other studies, reported in January and April of this year, that offered alternatives to embryonic stem-cell research.
We must understand that even if embryonic stem-cell treatments offered the world a panacea for all illnesses, it still would be immoral and unethical to destroy human embryos (Proverbs 6:16-19). Similarly, it never would be acceptable to kill five-year-old children to harvest their organs so that others might live. But, the truth of the matter is, embryonic stem-cell research holds less promise than research being done with adult stem cells, a fact that is underscored by the latest findings reported in Newsweek. As the scientific and medical communities attempt to bulldoze their way through moral boundaries established by God, we, as Christians, must be aware of the issues and take a stand for the rights of all humans, including those who are still in their first stages of life.

REFERENCES

Carmichael, Mary (2007), “An End to Debate or ‘Déjà Vu,’” Newsweek, 149[25]:14.
Harrub, Brad (2006), “False Marketing of Embryonic Stem Cells,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2976.
Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2001), “Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Research—Science’s Slippery Slope,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2877.

From Jim McGuiggan... The OT, fulfillment or abrogation?


The OT, fulfillment or abrogation?

In many respects, asking if the OT has been abrogated or “done away” and replaced with the NT is like asking if the first half of a Charles Dickens or John Grisham novel was done away when the books moved toward the end and finally concluded.
If we look at the Bible as the record of God’s unfolding drama (as well as one of the elements used to further the drama) then to speak of Act 1
(let’s say that’s the OT) as being “done away” is the wrong question. It’s not only not done away, without it there is no Act 2 (let’s say that’s the NT) without it and it’s only together that they make a complete drama.
There’s usually an entire network of mistakes and confusion of terms involved when the question is put like that.
When we say the Old Testament (OT) do we mean Genesis—Malachi? Or do we mean just the “Law of Moses”?
When we say “the Law of Moses” do we mean Genesis—Deuteronomy?
Or when we say “the Law of Moses” do we mean just the rules and commandments that we find mixed in with the history that’s “attached”?
When we ask about the “binding” nature of the OT it shows, I think, that we’re looking at it as nothing more than “a law” or “a body of rules and commandments”. But this generates difficulties for us when we’re reading the text of, say, Genesis, where Jacob ends up honeymooning with the wrong woman or Exodus where Moses rescues the girls from bullies around a watering hole. We’re able to say things like, “That story has principles in it that we should pay attention to” but it isn’t easy to see how a story can be called a “commandment” or “a law” or say something like, “That story is ‘binding’ on this person or that.”
It’s at that point we usually say we mean the OT in the sense of the Mosaic Law. That’s a smart move but since the “story” nature of much of the OT (that is, the Bible) is patently obvious it’s a move perhaps we shouldn’t have needed to make in the first place. It’s important for us to be clear what we mean by major terms or we won’t grow as students and we’ll have a hard time coming to agreement with others who aren’t using the words in the way we’re using them. [We lose out in other perhaps more important ways if we’re not careful students and followers.]
In this case, when we narrow the meaning of “the OT” down to “The Law of Moses” we end up implying that the “Law of Moses” is nothing but a collection of commandments. Since we’re fully convinced that “stories” or “narrative” or “plain history” is not “commandment” or “law” material we end up combing through the “law sections” of the “Law of Moses” to find the rules and commands. And if that's our preoccupation then history and stories and narrative have nothing to say to us. The bulk of the text is only the basket that holds all the “important” stuff—the commandments and the rules.
That’s an awful way to treat the OT text!
Now we’re back to the question about the “OT” being done away. When we ask the question it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense if we mean, “Has the history or the stories or the narrative been ‘done away’?” We can’t say that kind of thing about the biblical narrative material. It’d be like asking if the cross of Jesus is “done away” or has the history in Luke/Acts been “done away”?
It should begin to dawn on us that God doesn’t make his will and purposes known just by ladling out commands and rules. He reveals his purposes in his actions and many parts of the OT text interpret those actions for us and remind us that the events of which God is the author profile the character of God. That being so, these events or acts are never "done away".
While it’s true that specific acts of God (the call of Noah, Abraham, the Exodus, the Wilderness wandering and the settlement in the Land as examples) are especially revealing we’re not to suppose that God was not moving in the world and among all peoples in what we’d call “everyday life”. We shouldn’t go hunting through the OT for commands and rules and dismiss the history but nor should we go hunting through the history looking only at the outstanding happenings and dismiss the rest as irrelevant. “Outstanding” events are part of the larger history in which they occur. The Red Sea crossing was a remarkable event but it was imbedded in the real world and involved actual people and elemental forces. If you start pulling the biblical text apart you end up with no Bible at all; just a collection of abstracted rules, rootless wonders and the rest as necessary baggage that can be dumped.
God has revealed himself in history (that is, in the lives of actual people) but he has revealed himself by doing historical things. The events themselves are God showing himself and his intentions. [To be continued, God enabling.]

From Gary... Bible Reading August 12


Bible Reading  

August 12

The World English Bible

 
Aug. 12
Nehemiah 12, 13
Neh 12:1 Now these are the priests and the Levites who went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
Neh 12:2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
Neh 12:3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
Neh 12:4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,
Neh 12:5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
Neh 12:6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah.
Neh 12:7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua.
Neh 12:8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who was over the thanksgiving, he and his brothers.
Neh 12:9 Also Bakbukiah and Unno, their brothers, were over against them according to their offices.
Neh 12:10 Jeshua became the father of Joiakim, and Joiakim became the father of Eliashib, and Eliashib became the father of Joiada,
Neh 12:11 and Joiada became the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan became the father of Jaddua.
Neh 12:12 In the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers' houses: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
Neh 12:13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
Neh 12:14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
Neh 12:15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
Neh 12:16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
Neh 12:17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
Neh 12:18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
Neh 12:19 and of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
Neh 12:20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;
Neh 12:21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.
Neh 12:22 As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, there were recorded the heads of fathers' houses; also the priests, in the reign of Darius the Persian.
Neh 12:23 The sons of Levi, heads of fathers' houses, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
Neh 12:24 The chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers over against them, to praise and give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch next to watch.
Neh 12:25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the watch at the storehouses of the gates.
Neh 12:26 These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest the scribe.
Neh 12:27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with giving thanks, and with singing, with cymbals, stringed instruments, and with harps.
Neh 12:28 The sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites;
Neh 12:29 also from Beth Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had built them villages around Jerusalem.
Neh 12:30 The priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
Neh 12:31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah on the wall, and appointed two great companies who gave thanks and went in procession. One went on the right hand on the wall toward the dung gate;
Neh 12:32 and after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
Neh 12:33 and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
Neh 12:34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
Neh 12:35 and certain of the priests' sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph;
Neh 12:36 and his brothers, Shemaiah, and Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God; and Ezra the scribe was before them.
Neh 12:37 By the spring gate, and straight before them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, even to the water gate eastward.
Neh 12:38 The other company of those who gave thanks went to meet them, and I after them, with the half of the people, on the wall, above the tower of the furnaces, even to the broad wall,
Neh 12:39 and above the gate of Ephraim, and by the old gate, and by the fish gate, and the tower of Hananel, and the tower of Hammeah, even to the sheep gate: and they stood still in the gate of the guard.
Neh 12:40 So stood the two companies of those who gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me;
Neh 12:41 and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
Neh 12:42 and Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. The singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
Neh 12:43 They offered great sacrifices that day, and rejoiced; for God had made them rejoice with great joy; and the women also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
Neh 12:44 On that day were men appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the wave offerings, for the first fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them, according to the fields of the cities, the portions appointed by the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites who waited.
Neh 12:45 They performed the duty of their God, and the duty of the purification, and so did the singers and the porters, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
Neh 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there was a chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Neh 12:47 All Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, as every day required: and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.
Neh 13:1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that an Ammonite and a Moabite should not enter into the assembly of God forever,
Neh 13:2 because they didn't meet the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, to curse them: however our God turned the curse into a blessing.
Neh 13:3 It came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
Neh 13:4 Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, being allied to Tobiah,
Neh 13:5 had prepared for him a great chamber, where before they laid the meal offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the wave offerings for the priests.
Neh 13:6 But in all this time I was not at Jerusalem; for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I went to the king: and after certain days asked I leave of the king,
Neh 13:7 and I came to Jerusalem, and understood the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
Neh 13:8 It grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
Neh 13:9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and there brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meal offerings and the frankincense.
Neh 13:10 I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them; so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled everyone to his field.
Neh 13:11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
Neh 13:12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the treasuries.
Neh 13:13 I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were counted faithful, and their business was to distribute to their brothers.
Neh 13:14 Remember me, my God, concerning this, and don't wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its observances.
Neh 13:15 In those days saw I in Judah some men treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day in which they sold food.
Neh 13:16 There lived men of Tyre also therein, who brought in fish, and all manner of wares, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
Neh 13:17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the Sabbath day?
Neh 13:18 Didn't your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this evil on us, and on this city? yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.
Neh 13:19 It came to pass that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. I set some of my servants over the gates, that no burden should be brought in on the Sabbath day.
Neh 13:20 So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside of Jerusalem once or twice.
Neh 13:21 Then I testified against them, and said to them, Why do you stay around the wall? if you do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath.
Neh 13:22 I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember to me, my God, this also, and spare me according to the greatness of your loving kindness.
Neh 13:23 In those days also saw I the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
Neh 13:24 and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
Neh 13:25 I contended with them, and cursed them, and struck certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, or for yourselves.
Neh 13:26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, and he was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did foreign women cause to sin.
Neh 13:27 Shall we then listen to you to do all this great evil, to trespass against our God in marrying foreign women?
Neh 13:28 One of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.
Neh 13:29 Remember them, my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
Neh 13:30 Thus cleansed I them from all foreigners, and appointed duties for the priests and for the Levites, everyone in his work;
Neh 13:31 and for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the first fruits. Remember me, my God, for good.
 
Aug. 11, 12
Acts 24

Act 24:1 After five days, the high priest, Ananias, came down with certain elders and an orator, one Tertullus. They informed the governor against Paul.
Act 24:2 When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, "Seeing that by you we enjoy much peace, and that excellent measures are coming to this nation,
Act 24:3 we accept it in all ways and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.
Act 24:4 But, that I don't delay you, I entreat you to bear with us and hear a few words.
Act 24:5 For we have found this man to be a plague, an instigator of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Act 24:6 He even tried to profane the temple, and we arrested him.
Act 24:7 but the commanding officer, Lysias, came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,
Act 24:8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him."
Act 24:9 The Jews also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were so.
Act 24:10 When the governor had beckoned to him to speak, Paul answered, "Because I know that you have been a judge of this nation for many years, I cheerfully make my defense,
Act 24:11 seeing that you can recognize that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem.
Act 24:12 In the temple they didn't find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the synagogues, or in the city.
Act 24:13 Nor can they prove to you the things of which they now accuse me.
Act 24:14 But this I confess to you, that after the Way, which they call a sect, so I serve the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the law, and which are written in the prophets;
Act 24:15 having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Act 24:16 Herein I also practice always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men.
Act 24:17 Now after some years, I came to bring gifts for the needy to my nation, and offerings;
Act 24:18 amid which certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, not with a mob, nor with turmoil.
Act 24:19 They ought to have been here before you, and to make accusation, if they had anything against me.
Act 24:20 Or else let these men themselves say what injustice they found in me when I stood before the council,
Act 24:21 unless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!' "
Act 24:22 But Felix, having more exact knowledge concerning the Way, deferred them, saying, "When Lysias, the commanding officer, comes down, I will decide your case."
Act 24:23 He ordered the centurion that Paul should be kept in custody, and should have some privileges, and not to forbid any of his friends to serve him or to visit him.
Act 24:24 But after some days, Felix came with Drusilla, his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus.
Act 24:25 As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, "Go your way for this time, and when it is convenient for me, I will summon you."
Act 24:26 Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given to him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore also he sent for him more often, and talked with him.
Act 24:27 But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds.