4/28/17

THE CHURCH’S NEED OF THE WORLD by Jim McGuiggan


https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/03/


THE CHURCH’S NEED OF THE WORLD


When I use the word “world” in this piece I’m not using it to mean “organized evil, the anti-God, anti-life and anti-human” structure that we’re not to love or be friends with (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4 style). I mean it John 3:16-17 style that speaks of humans who are entangled in the cosmic network of evil and need rescued, whether they know it or not.
For all their “lostness” they are loved by God who finds no pleasure—none at all (Ezekiel 18)—in the final death of the impenitent wicked. For all they waywardness and their choosing to walk away from God and follow their own path (and they choose it, God doesn’t foreordain them to do it as some fools with a Bible in their hand claim He does)—for all their sinful foolishness God leaves us a witness that He loves us still by “doing good, giving us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with gladness” (Acts 14:16-17). This is the God Paul tells the idolatrous Athenians about; the God who gives to humans “life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25).
“Life and breath and everything else!”
I know—how could I not? Wickedness shows up all over the place or hides in plain sight in respectable places; evil that shocks even us who are used to hearing about it, watching in on the news and sometimes engaging in it ourselves, though we are good at rationalizing or minimizing it. We sincere Christian people should insist we’re different from non-Christian people but we need to be clear in what way we are different. We’ve been “called out” by the gospel of God not because we’re better or smarter or stronger than non-Christians—we’re not—we never were—Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:7.
We’ve been called out to experience salvation and life in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) that we might be the visible and concrete proof of God’s love and faithfulness to His eternal purpose to bless humanity (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
The world need us!
But we need the world!
Non-Christians grow our food, heal our sick, teach our children, build our roads, employ our workers, make our automobiles, produce our medicines, staff our hospitals, build our houses, supply clean water, dispose of our garbage and sewage, retail our daily necessities, supply heat and cool, provide technology, police our cities, fight our wars, man our courts, function for us in local, state and federal government, negotiate foreign trade, care for our children when parents must work, counsel the mentally distressed, protect those domestically abused, work in adoption situations and……..and……..
Yes, well all right, it isn’t always done well and there are those among them who don’t care that these jobs aren’t done well. Is there any Christian who thinks we are free of such failures? Who do we think we are?
We’re glad to have all these gifts and blessings and we thank God for them and then—what? We look down our noses at the people God uses to bless us.
We use them!
When did you last hear someone in your assembly thank God for the millions of non-Christians that enable us to live? We often enough ask Him to empower the doctors and nurses if they’re working on our sick friends or family but, listen to the prayers—the surgeons and other medical staff are instruments, the person as a person is forgotten. When success is achieved we thank God and not a word of warmth in a thanksgiving prayer about these gifted people as people—gifted by God and as people who use their gifts in kindness and with skill. (Almost always, as individuals, we speak a word of thanks to the medical people if our loved one is healed! But as a People we don’t see our need and utter dependence on the world We distance ourselves from them.)
There’s something we need to keep in mind as we grow more and more pleased (as we should!) when our assembly becomes more and more like God and to be a great community to be a part of. We speak of the varied gifts and skills we see in fellow-Christians as “spiritual gifts” and so we should but need to bear in mind that the varied gifts and character qualities that are obvious in the assembly existed in the non-Christians before God called them to Himself by the Spirit’s gospel about Jesus Christ.
You didn’t think they were giftless before they became Christians—did you? God gifts all humans! Without them we Christians couldn’t live! You didn’t think they came giftless and when they rose from the baptismal waters that God only then gifted them as administrators, speakers, teachers and such—did you? All God’s good gifts are “spiritual”.
It’s when people are called to God by His wondrous gospel that they then see their already existent gifts in a new or newer light and use them consciously or more consciously in the service of God. (Would it not be true and gracious to tell such people that God has blessed them richly with these gifts?)
Like all Christians these new Christians remain part of the world (John 17:12-15; Matthew 28:18-20), using the gifts God has given them as part of how He blesses the world and doing it as they gospel their way through the rest of their lives. One aspect of Christ’s miracles made it clear that God cares about the well-being of His human family. Maybe we can’t work His miracles but we can use His gifts to do the same thing Jesus did. Millions of non-Christians are doing it! We thank fellow-Christians for doing it—the Church AS THE CHURCH needs to thank them! To do less is graceless and is an expression of distorted isolation!
Finally this: The awful pain and suffering and deprivation of this world should serve to remind us that Christians are not God’s “pets”. They exist as a Covenant People for the world. To the degree that an assembly (with help from its leaders) forgets that they forget their God who is for the world and to the degree that our gathered people are made happy without being gospeled the more they become like “the world” of 1 John 2.
(Holy Father, help us with good and wise hearts to re-vision the world that we might see our need of them and your love of them and how you have gifted them. Thank you for them. We apologize. Grant us the gift of real metanoia that we will feel more than regret; that we will have a mind that looks forward and sees and gladly embraces the new way of seeing and thinking. This prayer in Jesus Christ.)

Christ’s Discipline of Withdrawal By Bob Cruse

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/sep/page15.shtml

Christ’s Discipline of Withdrawal

By Bob Cruse

[Firm Foundation, Vol. 114, No. 7, July 1999, p. 20.]
Jesus gave his disciples specific instructions for dealing with a Christian who sins against a brother (Matthew 18:15-17).  His lesson shows how a small personal offense can escalate into a deep public sin.  If the sinner is unwilling to repent after three sincere overtures from the offended brother, other witnesses, and, finally, “the church” intense magnification of the sin occurs.  In this instance, Jesus tells us we must let the sinner be to us “like a heathen and a tax collector” (v. 17).
The modern church has almost disavowed this part of Jesus’ divine plan.  Not many elders will even consider it.  Few sermons mention it.  As a result Christians in the pew have no clue about it.
But Jesus’ words are clear and understandable.  They form a series of imperative commands.  Obedience to these commands, in this circumstance, is compulsory for everyone who would be his disciple.
Harshness or lack of love was not in Jesus’ mind or on his lips.  His dual concerns were the restoration of the sinner and the protection of innocent Christians from the leavening influence of sin.  He wanted his disciples to know that withdrawal of fellowship within the local congregation is the tool of last resort in pursuing these noble spiritual goals.
The Comforter led the apostles into explicit affirmation of Jesus’ discipline of withdrawal.  Paul admonished the Thessalonians to “note,” “withdraw” from and refuse to “keep company” with “busybodies” in the church (2 Thessalonians 3).
He instructed the Roman church to “note” and “avoid” false teachers in the larger brotherhood who were causing “divisions and offenses” (Romans 16:17).
When he knew that a “sexually immoral” brother was being harbored in the Corinthian church, he commanded them to “put away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Corinthians 5:13).
Peter instructs us to “beware” of men who “twist” the Scripture “to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16f).  John warns that receiving or greeting a false teacher is the same as sharing “in his evil deeds” (2 John 10).
Lovingly administered Christ’s discipline of withdrawal and marking powerfully moves sinners toward true repentance.  It simultaneously shields innocent disciples who are tempted to imitate hardened sinners.
We cannot know until judgment day how many souls have been lost because of our refusal to heed these plain words of our Lord and his apostles.  Facing God with hands stained by the spiritual blood of these lost souls is indeed a daunting prospect.

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Tumult In Thessalonica (17:1-10) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                   Tumult In Thessalonica (17:1-10)

INTRODUCTION

1. Following their release from prison in Philippi, Paul and Silas...
   a. Departed from the city and made their way through Amphipolis and Apollonia
   b. Arriving in Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews - Ac 17:1

2. Thessalonica as a city...
   a. Was named in 315 B.C. after the half-sister of Alexander the Great
   b. That served as the capital of Macedonia (northern Greece) after 146 B.C.
   c. Along with Corinth, one of the two most important commercial centers in Greece
   -- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

3. Paul immediately found a synagogue of the Jews...
   a. As was his custom, to evangelize Jews 
       - Ac 17:1-3; cf. Ac 9:20; 13:5,14; 14:1; 19:8
   b. Where he was successful in persuading some, along with a great
      multitude of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women - Ac 17:4

[But as seen before (cf. Ac 13:45), Jews that were envious led a 
resistance against the efforts of Paul and Silas, resulting in an uproar
or tumult in the city...]

I. THE NATURE OF THE TUMULT

   A. INVOLVED EVIL MEN...
      1. Stirred up by unbelieving Jews 
      2. Who gathered evil men in the marketplace
      3. Creating a mob that set the city in an uproar
      4. Attacking the house of Jason (where Paul and Silas had been staying) - Ac 17:5,7

   B. LEADING TO JASON'S ARREST...
      1. The mob did not find Paul and Silas at Jason's house
      2. They dragged Jason and some of the brethren to the rulers
         (politarchs) of the city
      3. The charges that the mob made - Ac 17:6-7
         a. Paul and Silas:  "These who have turned the world upside down
            have come here too."
         b. Jason:  "Jason has harbored them"
         c. All of them:  "these are all acting contrary to the decrees
            of Caesar, saying there is another king--Jesus." - cf. Ac 16:21
      4. The crowd and the rulers (politarchs) were troubled by these charges - Ac 17:8
      5. Jason and the brethren with him were released - Ac 17:9
         a. Only after taking (money as) security from them
         b. Probably with the stipulation Paul and Silas leave town

[The brethren sent Paul and Silas to Berea by night (Ac 17:10).  One
might think such an inauspicious start bode ill for the gospel and the
church in Thessalonica.  Not so!  Within a year or so Paul wrote his
first epistle to the church at Thessalonica, where we can read about...]

II. THE EFFECT OF THE TUMULT

   A. PAUL'S INITIAL CONCERNS...
      1. He endeavored to see the Thessalonian brethren with great desire - 1Th 2:17
      2. He was hindered by Satan (the security imposed by the government?) - 1Th 2:18
      3. He sent Timothy from Athens to establish and encourage them - 1Th 3:1-4
      4. He was concerned that his labor with might have been in vain - 1Th 3:5

   B. TIMOTHY'S ENCOURAGING REPORT...
      1. He brought Paul good news of their faith and love! - 1Th 3:6
      2. Their memory of him was good; they wanted to see him as well! - 1Th 3:6
      3. Their faith comforted Paul in his own affliction and distress! - 1Th 3:7
      4. Their steadfastness in the faith gave Paul life and gratitude! - 1Th 3:8-10

   C. DESPITE THE TUMULT, THE CHURCH THRIVED...
      1. With work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope - 1Th 1:1-3
      2. With evidence of their election by God - 1Th 1:4
      3. Having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit - 1Th 1:5-6
      4. Serving as examples to all believers in Macedonia, Achaia - 1Th 1:7
      5. Trumpeting the Word throughout Macedonia, Achaia, everywhere! - 1Th 1:8
      6. Paul could not go somewhere without their reputation preceding him! - 1Th 1:9-10

CONCLUSION

1. As Paul relates in the second chapter of 1st Thessalonians...
   a. His coming to them had not been in vain - 1Th 2:1
   b. Despite his persecution in Philippi, the conflict in Thessalonica - 1Th 2:2

2. Why did the "Tumult In Thessalonica" fail to hinder the establishment of the church...?
   a. Because of Paul's conduct as a preacher of the Word - 1Th 2:3-12
   b. Because of the Thessalonians' reception of the Word despite persecution - 1Th 2:13-16

Wherever faithful gospel preachers proclaim the Word to people willing
to accept the Word of God, not even Satan with all his forces can
prevent the establishment and spread of the church of Christ...!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Conversion Of The Jailer (16:25-40) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

               The Conversion Of The Jailer (16:25-40)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Ac 16:25-40, we have another example of conversion...
   a. Commonly called "The Conversion Of The Jailer"
   b. Which included the conversion of his household

2. In Ac 16:30 we find a familiar passage...
   a. In which Paul is confronted by the Philippian jailer
   b. Who asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

3. This is a very important question...
   a. Salvation from sin is our greatest need - cf. Ro 6:23
   b. The answer must be according to the Word of God

4. The answer given is often limited to what is mentioned in Ac 16:31...
   a. Without consideration of all that is said in the context
   b. Without noting what is taught elsewhere in the Scriptures

[If one were to ask today, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?", how should we
reply?  Shall we limit our response to the words of Ac 16:31?  Well,
consider first of all...]

I. WHAT IS NOT MENTIONED

   A. THE NEED TO REPENT OF SINS...
      1. Yet Jesus wanted repentance to be preached in His name - Lk 24:46-47
      2. And so the apostles often preached the need to repent of sins
         a. As Peter did in his first two sermons - Ac 2:37-38; 3:19
         b. As did Paul in his sermon in Athens - Ac 17:30-31
      -- Shall we conclude that repentance is not necessary because it is
         not mentioned in the conversion of the Philippian jailer?

   B. THE NEED TO CONFESS CHRIST...
      1. Yet Jesus taught of the necessity of confessing Him before others - Mt 10:32-33
      2. And so the apostles often mentioned the importance of confessing Christ
         a. Confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus leads to salvation - Ro 10:9-10
         b. Confessing that Jesus is the Son of God leads to abiding in God - 1Jn 4:15
      -- Shall we conclude that confession is not necessary because it is
         not mentioned in the conversion of the Philippian jailor?

[We would be mishandling the Scriptures to suggest because repentance
and confession are not mentioned in Ac 16:31 that they are not necessary
to salvation.  But now let's consider...]

II. WHAT IS MENTIONED

   A. BELIEVING ON THE LORD...
      1. The jailer was told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - Ac 16:31
      2. This is consistent with what Jesus Himself taught
         a. Believing in the Son is key to having eternal life - Jn 3:36
         b. Unless we believe in Him, we will die in our sins - Jn 8:24
      3. And so the apostles often proclaimed the importance of faith in Jesus
         a. That one might have life in His name - Jn 20:30-31
         b. That believing with the heart leads to righteousness - Ro 10:9-10
      -- Faith in Christ is imperative to salvation, because of what the
         Bible says about it

   B. BAPTISM IMMEDIATELY...
      1. We notice that the jailor and his family were baptized immediately - Ac 16:33
      2. Similar to what we read elsewhere in other cases of conversion
         a. The 3000 baptized on the day of Pentecost - Ac 2:41
         b. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized as soon as he saw water - Ac 8:35-38
         c. Paul encouraged not to delay - Ac 22:16
      3. Why were they baptized immediately, even when it was after
         midnight? - cf. Ac 16:25,33
         a. Peter said it was for the remission of sins - Ac 2:38
         b. Paul was told it was to wash away sins - Ac 22:16
         c. Paul later wrote that it was a cutting away of the body of sins - Col 2:11-13
         d. Peter later wrote that it saves us through the resurrection of Christ - 1Pe 3:21
      -- When one sees what is revealed about baptism in the New 
         Testament, we can understand why it was received as soon as 
         possible by those who heard the gospel

   C. INCLUDING HIS HOUSEHOLD...
         1. Some appeal to the mention of "household" to infer infants 
            were included in the baptism
      2. Yet the text states that:
         a. Paul "spoke the word of the Lord...to all who were in his
            house", implying that all were able to listen and understand
            what was said - Ac 16:32
         b. The jailer rejoiced, "having believed in God with all his
            household"; i.e., everyone believed, implying the ability of
            all to believe what they heard - Ac 16:34
      3. There is nothing here to preclude what we have already concluded
         as necessary requirements to be a subject qualified for baptism:
         a. Repentance - Ac 2:38
         b. Whole-hearted faith - Ac 8:37
      -- Infants are incapable of faith and repentance, and nothing in 
         the text implies that infants were in the household of the jailer

CONCLUSION

1. Why does Paul only mention faith in answer to the question in Ac 16:31...?
   a. Because the answer takes into consideration one's spiritual state or condition
   b. For the jailor, he first needed to be told to believe in Jesus
   c. For the 3000 on Pentecost, they already believed by the time they
      asked their question, so faith is not even mentioned (but implied
      nonetheless) - cf. Ac 2:36-37

2. What answer should we give to those who ask today, "What must I do to be saved?"...
   a. Our answer depends upon what the spiritual state or condition the person is in
   b. If they have yet to believe in Jesus, then the need to believe in Him - Ac 16:30
   c. If they believe in Jesus, then the need to repent, confess, and be
      baptized for the remission of their sins 
      - Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 10:9-10; Ga 3:26-27

3. Our answer should entail all found in the Word of the Lord...
   a. Paul proceeded to speak the word of the Lord to the jailor and his
      family - Ac 16:32
   b. Such evidently included the need to be baptized immediately - Ac 16:33

A proper answer to "What must I do to be saved?" will take into 
consideration both the spiritual state of the inquirer and all that
that the Word of God reveals on the subject.  

Have you responded to what the Bible teaches regarding salvation in Christ...?
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

The Treaty of Tripoli and America's Founders by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=4520

The Treaty of Tripoli and America's Founders

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The world of humanity is characterized by irresoluble disagreement. The religious, political, and ideological divisions that exist among the seven billion people on the planet are staggering. These differences are not due simply to misunderstanding, or the need for further education and clarification. Truth may most certainly be known, and every human being has the God-given ability to weigh evidence and conduct himself in a rational matter, arriving at only the truth (cf. Warren, 1982; Miller, 2011). Yet, sadly, most people have arrived at their beliefs for other reasons than a desire to be right and accurate. They have an agenda, ulterior motives, and personal circumstances that mean more to them than truth. Hence, they are not actually interested in coming to correct comprehension or understanding.

THE ATHEIST'S CONTENTION

This state of affairs manifests itself in the matter of the origins of the Republic. Atheists and skeptics, as well as social and political liberals, of the last half century have made it one of their missions in life to indoctrinate the public with the notion that America was not intended to be a “Christian nation,” and that the Founders were deists who advocated religious pluralism and political correctness (see Miller, 2005). They have spouted the party line that our founding documents, especially the Constitution, are strictly secular in nature, and that the God of the Bible and the Christian religion were not formative influences on the Founders’ thinking. One would think that these critics are parroting Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf with its recommendation that “in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation…more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie…. [B]y an able and persistent use of propaganda heaven itself can be presented to the people as if it were hell and, vice versa” (1939, 1.10:185,216).
For example, in an article titled “Our Godless Constitution,” Brooke Allen states: “Our nation was founded not on Christian principles but on Enlightenment ones. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent…. The Founding Fathers were not religious men” (2005; cf. Kramnick and Moore, 1996). Such brazen exclamations, though common and widespread, are outrageous, inexcusable, and completely untrue. Such shameless claims might be forgiven if the allusions to Christianity by the Founders were rare, scattered, ambiguous, or subject to alternative interpretations—but they are not.
The Founders’ commitment to the God of the Bible and Christian principles was so pervasive and endemic that indications literally permeate the mass of organic utterances from the founding era. These expressions repeatedly articulate their conviction that Christianity lies at the foundation of the Republic. One simple, but decisive, example is the fact that during the eight tumultuous years of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the Continental Congress, representing more than 200 quintessential Founders of the Republic, issued 15 proclamations to the American population. Those proclamations are literally replete with allusions to God, Christ, Christianity, and the Bible (see Miller, 2009). They provide intimate insight into the very religious character of the vast majority of the Founders, and their absolutely unhesitating willingness to weave their religious convictions into their political expressions. Lest the reader doubt this bold contention, consider a portion of just one of those proclamations, issued by the entire Continental Congress to the American people on March 19, 1782:
Continental Congress Proclamation
March 19, 1782
The goodness of the Supreme Being to all his rational creatures, demands their acknowledgments of gratitude and love; his absolute government of this world dictates, that it is the interest of every nation and people ardently to supplicate his favor and implore his protection…. The United States in Congress assembled, therefore, taking into consideration our present situation, our multiplied transgressions of the holy laws of our God, and his acts of kindness and goodness towards us, which we ought to record with the liveliest gratitude, think it their indispensable duty to call upon the several states, to set apart the last Thursday in April next, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, that our joint supplications may then ascend to the throne of the Ruler of the Universe, beseeching Him to diffuse a spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens; and make us a holy, that so we may be an happy people…that He would incline the hearts of all men to peace, and fill them with universal charity and benevolence, and that the religion of our Divine Redeemer, with all its benign influences, may cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Journals of…, 22:137-138, emp. added).
This one official organic utterance by the supreme political body of the United States is sufficient to refute and completely dispel the popular contention of atheists that the Founders were not religious men, or that they did not couple their political pronouncements with their religious beliefs.
Hence, the allegations of skeptics (who seek to expunge the Founders’ clearly Christian orientation by floating isolated allusions that seemingly discount this orientation), logically, cannot be interpreted as carte blanche dismissals of the role of Christianity in the founding of America. Indeed, they must be viewed as isolated and exceptional in contrast with the myriad declarations to the contrary (see Miller, 2008). And, to be fair, an honest attempt ought to be made to harmonize the exceptional with the typical.

THE 1796 TREATY OF TRIPOLI

Despite the fact that transparent expressions of religious attachment by the mass of the Founders are legion, a battery of revisionist historians, liberal educators, skeptics, and atheists have been working feverishly for over half a century to perpetuate their unconscionable allegation that the bulk of the Founders were irreligious men. One, if not the most, prominent ploy used to propagate the secularist’s propaganda is the Treaty of Tripoli. Atheists and skeptics, using their Web sites and books, routinely seek justification for their denial of America’s Christian roots by decontextualizing the words of this political document (e.g., Harding, 2011; Walker, 1997; Allen, 2005; Buckner, 1997; Buckner and Buckner, 1993). For example, in his book The God Delusion, British atheist Richard Dawkins declares:
The religious views of the Founding Fathers are of great interest to propagandists of today’s American right, anxious to push their version of history. Contrary to their view, the fact that the United States was not founded as a Christian nation was early stated in the terms of a treaty with Tripoli (2006, p. 40, emp. added).
In an article on Dawkins’ Web site, titled “The Enigma of America’s Secular Roots” (Haselby, 2011), Sam Haselby parrots the same sentiment. He attempts to paint as irreligious the American envoy who negotiated and signed the treaty, Joel Barlow, on the basis of Barlow’s book Advice to the Privileged Orders (1793). [NOTE: As President Washington’s appointed envoy (in 1793) to negotiate treaties with Algeria, Tripoli, and Tunis, Colonel David Humphreys ultimately delegated his responsibilities to junior agents, including Joel Barlow as well as Joseph Donaldson (Irwin, 1931, p. 84; “Treaty of Peace…,” 1846a, 8:156).]
Joel Barlow
American Consul at Algiers 1795-1797
Regardless of Barlow’s personal religious sentiments, Haselby unquestionably misrepresents Barlow’s writing. He fails to recognize that Barlow was not condemning human religion carte blanche, let alone espousing the atheistic viewpoint—as do Dawkins and his fellow atheists. Rather, he was decrying false religion, as well as perversions and abuses of Christianity (e.g., Catholicism—pp. 60,62,69, et al.). More particularly, he condemned the “state-establishment of religion…[w]hen the Christian religion was perverted and pressed into the service of Government, under the name of the Christian Church” (pp. 61,68, italics in orig., emp. added). In the commencement of his denunciation of “The Church,” Barlow included a footnote to eliminate the very misunderstanding that atheists seek to perpetrate on others. He explained:
From that association of ideas, that usually connects the church with religion, I may run the risque [sic] of being misunderstood by some readers, unless I advertise them, that I consider no connection as existing between these two subjects; and that where I speak of church indefinitely, I mean the government of a state, assuming the name of God, to govern by divine authority; or in other words, darkening the consciences of men, in order to oppress them. In the United States of America, there is, strictly speaking, no such thing as a Church; and yet in no country are the people more religious… (pp. 53-54, italics in orig., emp. added)
Though America has always been filled with Christian churches, yet, as a nation, Barlow insisted that we have no church? How so? He meant that we have no one Christian sect assuming the role of a state church—the very malady that afflicted Britain. Yet, Christianity has been the singularly supreme religion that has always characterized the vast majority of Americans—including the vast majority of the Founders. In referring to Christianity in America, Barlow added: “they have ministers of religion, but no priests” (p. 54, italics in orig.). So according to Barlow, the problem is not religion; rather, problems arise when a corrupted form of Christianity is given the power of the federal government to persecute opposing Christian sects. He specifically affirmed that the bulk of the population of the country—including the Founders—were religious. Indeed, according to Barlow, Americans were unsurpassed in the world for their commitment to religion.
Barlow, therefore, did not use the word “church” as a blanket condemnation of the Christian church or religion. In fact, after providing an initial definition of his specialized use of the term, he repeatedly went out of his way to reiterate that definition’s very restricted meaning: “By church I mean any mode of worship declared to be national, or declared to have any preference in the eye of the law” (p. 61, italics in orig., emp. added; cf. “as I have before defined it”—p. 70). After citing the history of the Roman Catholic Church as exemplary of the kind of coercive religion that he condemned, he observes that such cruelty “has given rise to an opinion, that nations are cruel in proportion as they are religious” (p. 66). Ironically, Barlow’s observation represents the opinion of today’s atheist. However, Barlow disagreed with that opinion. In contrast, he stated: “But the observation ought to stand thus, That nations are cruel in proportion as they are guided by priests”—again accentuating the distinction between the positive and rightful influence of Christianity on society, and the unchristian cruelties inflicted by Catholic priests who are handed the reins of government (pp. 66-67, italics in orig.).
Barlow then concluded his chapter on the church by explicitly restating his specialized use of the term “church”:
In the United States of America there is no church; and this is one of the principal circumstances which distinguish that government from all others that ever existed; it ensures the un-embarrassed exercise of religion, the continuation of public instruction in the science of liberty and happiness, and promises a long duration to a representative government (pp. 75-76, emp. added).
Observe that when Barlow made his remarks, America, then as now, was saturated with churches from one end of the country to the other. Hence, his declaration that in America “there is no church” meant that there is no state religion, there is no religion (specifically, any one Christian denomination) that has been elevated by the federal government to the status of the state church. Observe further that Barlow listed as one of the positive, distinguishing characteristics of America the guarantee of “the unembarrassed exercise of religion”—the very thing that Dawkins, Haselby, and their atheistic associates constantly seek to expunge from society.
What Barlow and the Founders sought to communicate to the world was the fact that the newly established federal government had no direct religious ties to any one Christian sect; it did not establish a state church, as did England and other European countries. As Supreme Court Justice and Father of American Jurisprudence, Joseph Story, succinctly explained in his comments on the wording of the First Amendment to the Constitution:
The real object of the amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government. It thus cut off the means of religious persecution (1833, 3.44.728.1871, emp. added).
This premiere Founder and expounder of the original intent of the Constitution fully recognized what the mass of the Founders believed—that Christianity fits “hand-in-glove” with the Republic they established, and its perpetuation throughout the nation was indispensable to the survival of the Republic:
[I]n a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great basis, on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty…. Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation (3.44.724-726. 1867-1868, emp. added).
John Adams' letter to Thomas Jefferson
June 28, 1813
Even John Adams, under whose presidency the Treaty of Tripoli was finalized and sanctioned by Congress, and then signed by Adams himself, forthrightly affirmed the role of Christianity in the founding of the Republic. In a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, dated June 28, 1813, he explained that the great foundation of the nation is Christianity:
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young men could unite…. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God(“John Adams to…,” n.d., emp. added).
While serving in his official capacity as President of the United States, John Adams issued a proclamation to the entire nation that sets forth his indisputable views regarding Christianity and the nation:
John Adams' Presidential Proclamation
March 6, 1799
I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come…and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world (Adams, 1799, emp. added).
Such admonitions concerning Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Christian religion (i.e., Adams’ allusion to James 1:27) did not come from an irreligious man who rejected any connection between Christianity and the nation.
To summarize, while the Founders strenuously opposed the formation of a state-sponsored religion, i.e., the elevation of one Christian denomination above another, they firmly believed that the general principles of Christianity were part and parcel of the fabric of America, including her political and social institutions. This realization is indisputable and undeniable. We know that the Founders did not interpret the phrase in the Treaty of Tripoli the way skeptics and liberals do today, since we have a host of explicit declarations, statements, and affirmations to the contrary from the Founders themselves (Miller, 2008). But how, then, do we account for the apparent denial of this broad-based fact in the Treaty of Tripoli? Let us see.

The Wording of the Treaty Itself

Having dispelled the attempt to characterize the Treaty of Tripoli as a patent denial of the Christian character of America, we now turn to the Treaty itself in an effort to understand its originally intended meaning. The treaty is dated November 4, 1796. The disputed portion of the treaty is Article 11, which reads in full:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846a, 8:155, emp. added).
At first glance, the initial declaration is startling and seemingly straightforward. How does one harmonize the mountain of evidence of America’s religious moorings with this treaty’s bold declaration that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion”? The answer lies in an objective consideration of the rest of the article, recognizing that the subsequent phrases clarify, define, and explain the true intent of the initial declaration.
Observe, first, that the Treaty of Tripoli in general, and Article 11 in particular, pertains specifically and exclusively to the federal government—not to the state governments or the rest of America’s social or political institutions (cf. Barton, 2000). The Founders’ discussions of the First Amendment make it very clear that the federal government was not to meddle in religious affairs, i.e., it was never to be allowed to interfere with the free exercise of the Christian religion. The Father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason, confirms this appraisal of the historical context when he offered the following wording of the First Amendment:
[A]ll men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others (as quoted in Rowland, 1892, 1:244, emp. added).
While Mason’s wording did not make the final cut, it nevertheless demonstrates the historical setting of the discussions, and the specific variables with which the Founders were grappling. The point is that the treaty was assuring the Tripolitan Muslim warlord that the government of the United States would never show hostility toward his country based on America’s intimate affiliation with Christianity.
Second, notice that while the punctuation found throughout the article varies in the published forms that have come down through history, nevertheless, none place a period after “the Christian Religion.” The article clearly intends for the reader to gain clarification regarding the import of the first clause by including the subsequent clauses. The rest of the article, in fact, elaborates and expounds on the wording in the first clause. The rest of the article answers the question: In what way or ways is the government of the U.S. not founded in any sense on the Christian religion? Answer: (1) It has no disposition to show hatred toward Muslims, their laws, religion, or peaceful status; (2) The U.S. has never waged war against a Muslim nation; and (3) Therefore, it is clear that the U.S. would never attack a Muslim country solely on the grounds of religion, i.e., the differences that exist between Christianity and Islam.
The average Muslim, even today, has difficulty reconciling America’s worldwide reputation as a “Christian nation” with her concomitant refusal to forcibly impose its religious orientation on the rest of the world—as Muslim countries, themselves, have consistently sought to do throughout history. The Bey of Tripoli, along with the pashas of the other Barbary States, unquestionably viewed American ships as fair game—legitimate objects of their attacks on the high seas—for the simple and obvious reason that America was a Christian nation. No Muslim country would have accepted as true such a sweeping repudiation of America’s intimate affiliation with Christianity. If such were the intent and meaning of Article 11, the Bey would have instantly dismissed the validity of the treaty, and such a claim would be seen as a laughable and ludicrous denial of what was obviously the case, i.e., that America was inhabited by a population of people, the vast majority of whom openly professed Christianity, and manifested that profession in all its civil and social institutions. [NOTE: The term “Bey” is a title of Turkish origin that refers to a tribal chieftain, equivalent to the English term “lord.” The similar term “Dey” was used specifically to refer to the rulers of Algiers and Tripoli. “Pasha” or “bashaw” was a comparable title of rank in the Ottoman Empire.]
Abundant historical evidence verifies this understanding. Ten years earlier, authorized by Congress to negotiate with the Barbary pirates, who continually raided American ships off the coast of North Africa, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson met in London in 1786 with the Ambassador from Tripoli. On March 28, they wrote the following letter to John Jay, who was serving as the U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, reporting their conversation with the ambassador.
American Peace Commissioners'
letter to John Jay
March 28, 1786
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise (“American Peace…,” 1786).
The Tripoli ambassador clearly reflected the attitude of the Bey and his fellow citizens toward non-Muslim countries, an attitude that must be taken into account as the backdrop of the wording of Article 11 in the treaty a decade later. [NOTE: Interestingly, the only known surviving Arabic copy of the Treaty of Tripoli lacks the allusion to America not being a Christian nation.]

The Other Treaty of Tripoli

Even more telling proof that the phrase in Article 11 is misconstrued by atheists is seen in Article 14 of the subsequent treaty made with Tripoli on June 4, 1805, which reads in full:
Art. 14th. As the government of the United States of America has, in itself, no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen, and as the said states never have entered into any voluntary war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, except in the defence of their just rights to freely navigate the high seas, it is declared by the contracting parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two nations. And the consuls and agents of both nations respectively, shall have liberty to exercise his religion in his own house. All slaves of the same religion shall not be impeded in going to said consul’s house at hours of prayer. The consuls shall have liberty and personal security given them, to travel within the territories of each other both by land and sea, and shall not be prevented from going on board any vessel that they may think proper to visit. They shall have likewise the liberty to appoint their own drogerman and brokers (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846b, 8:216, emp. added).
The first two clauses are taken verbatim from the 1796 treaty—to the exclusion of the clause regarding America not being a Christian nation. Consequently, they do precisely what the Christian nation clause was intended to do in the earlier treaty: assure the Muslim pasha that America’s Christian orientation would not be the cause of hostilities directed against him. Tripolines were obligated not to attack Americans on account of America’s Christian connections, and the U.S. was not to attack Tripolines on account of their Islamic beliefs.
Article 14 even expresses concern that “consuls and agents of both nations” be permitted to practice their religion in their own homes. In other words, a consul or agent of Tripoli should not be hindered from engaging in Islamic worship in the diplomatic residence he occupies while in America. Similarly, any American consul or government agent living in Tripoli was not to be hindered from practicing his religion while residing in Tripoli. Pray tell—what religion would that be? Certainly not Islam, since he would hardly be hindered from practicing Islam in an Islamic nation. Obviously, both parties to the treaty automatically understood that American consuls and government agents would naturally practice Christianity.

Treaties with the Other Barbary States

This conclusion is verified further by the comparable treaties that were made with the Muslim rulers of the other Barbary States—
  • Two with Tunis, on August 17, 1797 and March 26, 1799 (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846e, 8:157-161), as well as the “Altered Articles” on February 24, 1824 (1846, 8:298-300).
  • Two with Morocco, on January 1787 (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846c, 8:100-108) and September 16, 1836 (“Treaty with Morocco…,” 1846, 8:484-487).
  • Two with Algiers, on September 5, 1795 (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846d, 8:133-137) and June 30 and July 6, 1815 (1846f, 8:224-247), as well as a “Renewed Treaty” on December 22-23, 1816 (1846g, 8:244-248).
Not one of these treaties contains the reference to America not being a Christian nation. All omit altogether any reference to the Islamic-Christian tension that naturally existed between the two nations—with one exception. Article 15 of the June 30 and July 6, 1815 treaty with Algiers addresses the issue in the following words:
As the government of the United States has, in itself, no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of any nation, and as the said States have never entered into any voluntary war, or act of hostility, except in defence of their just rights on the high seas, it is declared, by the contracting parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony between the two nations; and the Consuls and Agents of both nations shall have liberty to celebrate the rites of their respective religions in their own houses (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846f, 8:224-247, emp. added).
This article paraphrases the previous two treaties with Tripoli. Like the second treaty with Tripoli, it omits the “not a Christian nation” clause. Once again, observe that the agreement inherently presupposes that the religion of Algiers is Islam and the religion of America is Christianity. But the treaty intends to reassure the Dey that America’s Christian orientation will never be the cause of hostilities on the part of America. Indeed, America’s history proves that her wars have typically been reactive and defensive, and they have pertained to non-religious matters.

The Other Treaties Include Religion

Even more historical confirmation is seen in the fact that not only do all the other treaties that were made with the Barbary States omit the allusion to America not being a Christian nation—including the other Tripoli treaty—they actually contain allusions to Christianity. For example, the January 1787 treaty with Morocco (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846c, 8:100-108) contains the following references: “In the Name of Almighty God” and “trusting in God” (p. 100). It also refers to “the Christian powers” (in Article X, p. 102), “any Christian power” (in Article XI, p. 102), “the other Christian nations” (in Article XVII, p. 103), and “any of the Christian powers” (in Article XXIV, p. 104)—the last two references clearly implying that America is among them. Article XXV states: “This treaty shall continue in full force, with the help of God, for fifty years” (p. 104, emp. added). Several times the treaty alludes to “Moors”—the term used to refer to “a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent” in northwest Africa (American Heritage…, 2000, p. 1142)—in Article VI (p. 101), Article XI (p. 102), and Article XXI (p. 103). Article XI places “Moors” in juxtaposition to “Christians” (Article XI, p. 104), and the “Additional Article” contrasts “Moorish” with “Christian Powers” (p. 104). The September 16, 1836 treaty with Morocco contains essentially the same contrasts.
The September 5, 1795 treaty with Algiers—made just 14 months before the 1796 treaty with Tripoli that contains the “not a Christian nation” expression—includes in Article XVII assurance that the “consul of the United States of North-America…shall have liberty to exercise his religion in his own house” (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846d, 8:135). This treaty was authorized by the same President who initiated the 1796 treaty with Tripoli—George Washington. In addition to the evidence provided by Article 15 of the June 30 and July 6, 1815 treaty with Algiers mentioned above, Article 14 of the same treaty secures the right of captive Christians in Algiers, who are able to escape and make their way to any U.S. ships, to remain on board unscathed, and no remuneration must be paid “for the said Christians” (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846f, 8:246).
The August 17, 1797 treaty with Tunis begins with the words “God is infinite” and refers to “the most distinguished and honored President of the Congress of the United States of America, the most distinguished among those who profess the religion of the Messiah” (“Treaty of Peace…,” 1846e, 8:157). This unmistakable declaration of commitment to the religion of Christ refers to President John Adams—the very President whose act of signing the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, the skeptics claim proves that he and the Congress repudiated Christianity! Article IX of the same treaty states: “If by accident and by the permission of God, a vessel of one of the contracting parties shall be cast by tempest upon the coasts of the other…” (p. 158, emp. added). The treaty concludes with an affirmation that the two contracting parties shall observe the terms of the treaty “with the will of the Most High” (p. 161—an expression used in both the Quran and the Bible), and the treaty is dated in both Islamic and Christian reckoning: “in the present month of Rebia Elul, of the Hegira one thousand two hundred and twelve, corresponding with the month of August of the Christian year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven,” followed by the signatures and seals of the Muslim leaders (p. 161). The accompanying verification by the American representatives, William Eaton and James Cathcart, claims authority for their actions on the basis of President John Adams, and closes with these words: “Done in Tunis, the twenty-sixth day of March, in the year of the Christian era one thousand seven hundred and ninety-nine, and of American independence the twenty-third” (p. 161, emp. added).
To summarize, the treaties made with the Barbary States are literally riddled with religious allusions and transparent indications of the Christian orientation of the United States in contradistinction to the Islamic orientation of the Barbary States. This fact alone proves that no treaty ever ratified by the United States would deny the Christian connections that have characterized the nation from its birth. The very idea is absurd—and such a declaration would be an outright falsehood. Those who so construe the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli are guilty of shoddy historical investigation at the very least, and outright dishonesty and flagrant bias at the very worst.

CONCLUSION

It is sad when any people become so biased in their belief system that they will latch onto a handful of misleading incidents and exploit them in an effort to legitimize that belief system. Atheists are guilty of the very malady they insist Christians suffer from—an irrational, prejudicial, mindless commitment to discredited ideas. The evidence is mammoth and decisive: the God of the Bible exists, and the Christian religion (in its pure, New Testament form) is the only belief system that He has authored for people living today (see www.apologeticspress.org). The Founders of the American Republic, with few exceptions, understood these facts and embraced them. As John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams and 6th President, declared:
From the day of the Declaration, the people of the North American Union and of its constituent States, were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians, in a state of nature; but not of Anarchy. They were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct (1821, p. 26, emp. added).
With this Christian worldview firmly fixed in their minds, they launched what indisputably has become the greatest nation in human history.

REFERENCES

Adams, John (1799), “By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation,” Library of Congress, http://tinyurl.com/Adams1799.
Adams, John Quincy (1821), Address Delivered at the request of a Committee of the Citizens of Washington on the Occasion of Reading the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1821 (Washington: Davis & Force), http://digital.library.umsystem.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?sid=b80c023f0 007f89b5b95e4be026fa267;c=jul;idno=jul000087.
Allen, Brooke (2005), “Our Godless Constitution,” The Nation, February 3, http://www.thenation.com/article/our-godless-constitution.
“Altered Articles of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Between the United States and the Bashaw Bey of Tunis, February 24, 1824” (1846), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
“American Peace Commissioners to John Jay” (1786), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, Library of Congress, March 28, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib001849.
Barlow, Joel (1793), Advice to the Privileged Orders (London: J. Johnston), third edition, http://tinyurl.com/Barlow1793.
Barton, David (2000), “Treaty of Tripoli,” Wallbuilders, http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=125.
Buckner, Ed (1997), “Does the 1796-97 Treaty with Tripoli Matter to Church/State Separation?” http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/buckner_tripoli.html.
Buckner, Ed and Michael (1993), “Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church,” Internet Infidels, http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_buckner/quotations.html#I.
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (London: Bantam Press).
Harding, Ken (2011), “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christians,” BibleTrash.com, July 5, http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html.
Haselby, Sam (2011), “The Enigma of America’s Secular Roots,” The Guardian, January 3, http://richarddawkins.net/articles/572948-the-enigma-of-america-s-secular-roots; http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jan/03/america-secular-roots-treaty-tripoli.
Hitler, Adolf (1939), Mein Kampf, Project Gutenberg, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200601.txt.
Irwin, Ray (1931), The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press).
“John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813” (no date), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence, 1651-1827, Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib021451.
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Kramnick, Isaac and R. Laurence Moore (1996), The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness (New York: W.W. Horton).
Miller, Dave (2005), “Deism, Atheism, and the Founders,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1654&topic=31.
Miller, Dave (2008), The Silencing of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=51.
Miller, Dave (2009), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=45.
Miller, Dave (2011), “Is Christianity Logical? (Part I),” Reason & Revelation, 31[6]:50-59, June 3, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=977&article=1499.
Rowland, Kate (1892), The Life of George Mason (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Story, Joseph (1833), Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, & Co.), http://www.constitution.org/js/js_344.htm.
“Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States of America, and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, November 4, 1796” (1846a),The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown), http://tinyurl.com/TreatyTripoli1846a.
“Treaty of Peace and Amity, Between the United States of America, and the Bashaw, Bey, and Subjects of Tripoli, in Barbary, June 4, 1805” (1846b), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States of America and His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Morocco, January, 1787” (1846c), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty of Peace and Amity Between the Dey of Algiers and the United States of America, September 5, 1795” (1846d), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Tunis, August, 1797, March 26, 1799” (1846e), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty of Peace and Amity, Concluded Between the United States of America and His Highness Omar Bashaw, Dey of Algiers, June 30, and July 6, 1815” (1846f), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty of Peace and Amity, Concluded Between the United States of America and the Dey and Regency of Algiers, December 23 and 24, 1816” (1846g), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
“Treaty with Morocco, September 16, 1836” (1846), The Public Statutes at Large of the United States, ed. Richard Peters (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown).
Walker, Jim (1997), “The Government of the United States of America is Not, in Any Sense Founded on the Christian Religion,” NoBeliefs.com, April 11, http://www.nobeliefs.com/Tripoli.htm.
Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic & the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).

Why the Eighth Day? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=834

Why the Eighth Day?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

The faith of each individual Christian rests upon the bedrock foundation of the Bible’s inspiration. If the Bible is of human origin, then it logically follows that the facts and doctrines found therein are only as reliable as human knowledge can be. However, if the biblical records were provided by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21), then we have every reason to believe that the facts and doctrines recorded therein are free of those imperfections and blemishes that characterize all purely human efforts.
The Greek word used in the New Testament to express the concept of inspiration is theopneustos, and itself derives from two roots—theos, God, and pneustos, breathed (from pneo, to blow or breathe). Theopneustos, therefore, would mean “God-breathed.” The word implies an influence from without producing effects that are beyond natural powers. The proper view of inspiration often is referred to as being verbal (word-for-word) and plenary (complete). This concept suggests that men wrote what God directed, without errors or mistakes, yet with their own personalities reflected in their writings.
A close examination of the Bible reveals startling proof of its inspiration. Sometimes that proof comes in the form of prophecy (always minutely foretold and completely fulfilled). Sometimes the proof comes in the form of scientific facts that were placed in the divine record hundreds or thousands of years before they were known to the modern scientific mind. This brief article deals with the latter—an important piece of scientific foreknowledge found with the biblical text that was completely unknown to man until fairly recently.
In Genesis 17:12, God specifically directed Abraham to circumcise newborn males on the eighth day. Why the eighth day? In 1935, professor H. Dam proposed the name “vitamin K” for the factor in foods that helped prevent hemorrhaging in baby chicks. We now know vitamin K is responsible for the production (by the liver) of the element known as prothrombin. If vitamin K is deficient, there will be a prothrombin deficiency and hemorrhaging may occur. Oddly, it is only on the fifth through the seventh days of the newborn male’s life that vitamin K (produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract) is present in adequate quantities. Vitamin K, coupled with prothrombin, causes blood coagulation, which is important in any surgical procedure. Holt and McIntosh, in their classic work, Holt Pediatrics, observed that a newborn infant has “peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life.... Hemorrhages at this time, though often inconsequential, are sometimes extensive; they may produce serious damage to internal organs, especially to the brain, and cause death from shock and exsanguination” (1953, pp. 125-126). Obviously, then, if vitamin K is not produced in sufficient quantities until days five through seven, it would be wise to postpone any surgery until some time after that. But why did God specify day eight?
On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal—and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak. The chart below, patterned after one published by S.I. McMillen, M.D., in his book, None of These Diseases, portrays this in graphic form.
Prothrom Table
Dr. McMillen observed:


We should commend the many hundreds of workers who labored at great expense over a number of years to discover that the safest day to perform circumcision is the eighth. Yet, as we congratulate medical science for this recent finding, we can almost hear the leaves of the Bible rustling. They would like to remind us that four thousand years ago, when God initiated circumcision with Abraham....
Abraham did not pick the eighth day after many centuries of trial-and-error experiments. Neither he nor any of his company from the ancient city of Ur in the Chaldees ever had been circumcised. It was a day picked by the Creator of vitamin K (1984, p. 93).
Moses’ information, as recorded in Genesis 17:12, not only was scientifically accurate, but was light-years ahead of its time. How did Moses have access to such information? The answer, of course, is provided by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16—“Every scripture is inspired of God.”

REFERENCES

Holt, L.E. and R. McIntosh (1953), Holt Pediatrics (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts), twelfth edition.
McMillen, S.I. (1984), None of These Diseases (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).

The Universe and Its Laws by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2206

The Universe and Its Laws

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In a recent issue of New Scientist titled “How the Universe Got Its Laws and Our Surprising Role in Shaping Them,” Paul Davies of Arizona State University made some observations that creationists find noteworthy, given his prominence as an evolutionist. He described the alleged 13.7 billion-year-old Universe (2007, 194[2610]:30), which supposedly is the result of mindless, naturalistic, random processes, as “uniquely hospitable” (p. 30), “remarkable” (p. 34), and “ordered in an intelligible way” (p. 30). He admitted to the many examples of “uncanny bio-friendly ‘coincidences’” and “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe (p. 30). He then wrote: “Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, our universe seems ‘just right’ for life. It looks, to use astronomer Fred Hoyle’s dramatic description, as if ‘a super-intellect has been monkeying with physics’” (p. 30).
Still, although Davies admitted that it appears a being of “super-intellect” lies behind the law-driven Universe, he pressed on to find a natural phenomenon to explain “why the universe is as it is” (p. 31). To Paul Davies and other evolutionary scientists, any explanation outside of nature itself is a cop-out. The laws of physics that govern the Universe, and that “are strangely independent of the universe,” must have a naturalistic explanation. So how did the Universe get its laws?
Davies conveniently suggested that we must abandon the orthodox view that the laws of physics are immutable and universal. “Laws” of physics must be considered “flexi-laws.” If you concede this possibility, then the “laws of physics are inherent in the physical universe, and emerge with it” (p. 33, emp. added). The laws “start out unfocused, but rapidly sharpen and zero in on the form we observe today as the universe grows” (p. 33). “[W]ith flexi-laws,” Davies suggested, “the way lies open for a self-consistent explanation” (p. 34).
The fuzzy primordial laws focus in on precisely the form needed to give rise to the living organisms that eventually observe them. Cosmic bio-friendliness is therefore the result of a sort of quantum post-selection effect extended to the very laws of physics themselves (p. 34).
In other words, the laws of physics just evolved to their current status like everything else in the Universe.
While several evolutionary scientists around the world continue to spend countless hours and untold amounts of money “attempting to place the concept of flexi-laws and quantum post-selection on sound mathematical footing” (p. 34), the fact remains that laws of science are called “laws” for a reason: there is no known exception to them. In truth, Davies’ thoughts are no more rational than those of biologists who testify to the law of biogenesis, but then conclude that millions of years ago life must have spontaneously generated.
Davies and others apparently cannot tolerate the thought of the absence of a naturalistic explanation for the origin of our law-driven Universe. When all naturalistic explanations fail to clarify what exists, instead of rationally concluding what such results imply (i.e., that their must be a Supernatural explanation separate and apart from the physical Universe), men like Davies simply come up with another new complicated theory that defies both natural law and common sense.
Naturalistic explanations for the Universe and its laws leave an explanatory void that only a Supernatural Being (i.e., God) can fill. Indeed, laws demand a lawgiver. “The things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emp. added).
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Davies, Paul (2007), “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist, 194[2610]:30-34, June.

Mary—Mother of God? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1178

Mary—Mother of God?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, generated a flurry of interest and discussion regarding the Christian religion. Since Mel declares himself to be a Catholic, the movie naturally elicited a consideration of the Catholic perspective on various aspects of the life of Christ on Earth. One unique feature of Catholicism is the role and status assigned to Mary. While many Catholics will “hedge” when in private conversation about the veneration given to Mary, the official pronouncements of the Catholic Church are forthright and unreserved in declaring her to be the “mother of God,” and in sanctioning the offering of worship to her, and assigning to her an intercessory role. Consider the following authoritative decrees of the Vatican II Council:
Mary was involved in the mysteries of Christ. As the most holy Mother of God she was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men. Hence the Church appropriately honors her with special reverence. Indeed, from most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been venerated under the title of “God-bearer.” In all perils and needs, the faithful have fled prayerfully to her protection…. This most holy Synod…charges that practices and exercises of devotion toward her be treasured as recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of centuries, and that those decrees issued in earlier times regarding the veneration of images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints, be religiously observed…. Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints (Abbott, 1966, pp. 94-96, emp. added).
Of course, rejecting the concept of abiding strictly by the Bible (sola scriptura), the Catholic Church has maintained for centuries that God’s Word is transmitted through (in addition to the Bible) the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, i.e., through the papacy and supporting church authorities. But for those who remain unconvinced of the right of post-apostolic men to speak by inspiration, the Bible continues to be the only rule of faith and practice—the sole receptacle for God’s Word since the close of the first century A.D.
The Bible is abundantly clear on the role of Mary in the divine scheme of things. The Bible nowhere indicates that Mary ascended into heaven. Nor does the Bible ever use the expression “mother of God.” The expression, in fact, carries with it misleading baggage. It leaves the impression that Mary somehow is being credited with originating Jesus or bringing Him into existence—ludicrous notions at best (cf. John 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17). A fair representation of Scripture would recognize the need to provide clarification by using different wording (e.g., Mary was the mother of Jesus in His incarnate form). In reality, Mary’s body merely served as a host. Matthew worded it this way: “[T]hat which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Someone has gotten “way off track” by overemphasizing the role of Mary—thus giving rise to Mariolatry (the worship of Mary) among Catholics. Using the expression “mother of God” is, therefore, an example of decontextualization. The meaning of the phrase “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43) has been greatly expanded, thereby causing the expression to convey more meaning than the Holy Spirit intended.
The Bible likewise does not give Mary any special status above others. It is acknowledged that she was selected to be the female through whom the Holy Spirit implanted the seed that brought forth the Lord (Luke 1:26-38). It is true that Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, referred to her as “blessed” (Luke 1:42). And it is true that Mary, herself, felt that “henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). But notice that nothing is attributed to Mary that is not attributed to many, many other followers of God in Bible history. Many people, in fact, have been “blessed.”
To “bless” in Bible jargon simply means to wish intended good, favor, and well-being upon the recipient (cf. Gray, 1939, 1:487). For example, consider how Melchizedek, king of Salem, extolled Abram: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand” (Genesis 14:19-20). Rebekah was similarly blessed: “And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: ‘Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them’ ” (Genesis 24:60; cf. vs. 31). Abimelech announced to Isaac: “You are now the blessed of the Lord” (Genesis 26:29). The entire nation of Israel was pronounced blessed: “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock” (Deuteronomy 7:14). Moses directed multiple assurances of blessedness toward the Israelites (Deuteronomy 28:1-8).
In fact, the Bible pronounces as “blessed” all people who follow Jesus: “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2:12). Many people in Bible history were found in the “favor” of God (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:26; Proverbs 12:2). Nowhere does the Bible even hint at the notion of Mariolatry. When on the cross, Jesus said to John: “Behold your mother!” (John 19:27), He certainly was not calling for the veneration of Mary! He was merely assigning to John the responsibility of caring for His mother. Mary’s husband, Joseph, was undoubtedly deceased. If veneration of Mary is necessitated by this statement of Jesus, then the immediately preceding statement directed to Mary pertaining to John (“Woman, behold your son!”—John 19:26) would necessitate the veneration of John! Likewise, the notion of Mary’s “perpetual virginity” is a contradiction of Bible teaching, since she and her husband, Joseph, had several children after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 12:46; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). The New Testament is completely silent on these doctrines (Mariolatry, assumption into heaven, perpetual virginity) that have evolved within Catholicism long after the first century.

REFERENCES

Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
Gray, James M. (1939), “Bless,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1974 reprint.