11/1/19

"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" The Peril Of Adultery (5:1-23) by Mark Copeland


"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS"

The Peril Of Adultery (5:1-23)

INTRODUCTION

1. Earlier in his discourses on wisdom, Solomon warned of being
   delivered from an immoral woman...
   a. The seductress who flatters with her words - Pr 2:16
   b. Who forsakes her husband and forgets her covenant with God 
        - Pro 2:17
   c. Whose home and paths leads to death - Pr 2:18-19

2. Similar warnings are repeated in these discourses of Solomon ...
   a. In chapters five, six, and seven
   b. Such repetition implies that the danger is great
   c. It was a serious problem in Solomon's day, certainly no less today

[In chapter five, we read of "The Peril Of Adultery".  Beginning with a
call to pay attention (Pr 5:1-2), we are warned about...]

I. THE PROMISE OF ADULTERY

   A. THE FALSE PROMISE...
      1. It sounds and feels good at first - Pr 5:3
      2. For such enticement involves flattery - cf. Pr 2:16; 6:24; 7:21
      3. And forbidden fruit is always tempting - e.g., Gen 3:6
      -- Adultery promises much, but what does it deliver?

   B. THE REAL PROMISE...
      1. The end of adultery is sharp bitterness - Pr 5:4
      2. The real promise is death followed by condemnation - Pr 5:5;
         cf. He 13:4
      3. Thus the ways of adultery are unstable, unknowable - Pr 5:6
      -- Adultery delivers, but not what it promises!

[To appreciate what adultery really delivers, we are next told of...]

II. THE PRICE OF ADULTERY

   A. IT COSTS YOUR WEALTH...
      1. Solomon pleads with his children to stay away from the immoral
         woman - Pr 5:7-8
      2. His first reason:  "Lest you give your honor to others..." - Pr 5:9a
      3. He reiterates:  "Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, And
         your labors go to the house of a foreigner." - Pr 5:10
      -- Alimony and child support can eat away at your finances

   B. IT COSTS YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH...
      1. Solomon's second reason:  "...and your years to the cruel one." - Pr 5:9b
      2. He adds:  "And you mourn at last, when your flesh and body are
         consumed." - Pr 5:11
      3. Bacterial STDs (e.g., Chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea) are often
         brought on by immorality;
      4. Viral STDs (e.g., genital herpes, Hepatitis B, AIDS) are incurable
      -- Sexually transmitted diseases can eat away at your body

   C. IT COSTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH...
      1. You will be filled with self-recrimination:  "How I hated
         instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not
         obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those
         who instructed me!" - Pr 5:12-13
      2. You will not forget what your parents, teachers, preachers, and
         true friends told you
      3. As you recall the violent affects of divorce on your spouse
         (and on your children who will likely suffer the worst), you
         will berate your stupidity! - cf. Mal 2:16
      -- Your conscience can eat away at your peace of mind

   D. IT COSTS YOUR REPUTATION...
      1. As suggested by these words:  "I was on the verge of total
         ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation." - Pro 5:14
      2. People do not take lightly the sin of adultery - cf. Pr 6: 27-35
      3. Can a person be trusted who would lie to their spouse?
      -- Your unfaithfulness can eat away at your reputation

[Adultery destroys one's wealth, body, soul, and reputation.
Forgiveness is possible (1Co 6:9-11), but many affects of adultery
continue throughout one's life.  Much better, therefore, to take to heart...]

III. THE PREVENTION OF ADULTERY

   A. LOVE YOUR SPOUSE...
      1. Rejoice with the wife of your youth; be enraptured by her love
         - Pr 5:15-19; cf. Ec 9:9
         a. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church - Ep 5:25,28
         b. Wives, learn to love your husbands - Tit 2:3-4
      2. Why be enraptured by an adulteress (adulterer) and seductress
         (seducer)? - Pr 5:20
         a. One's true character is revealed by their immorality
         b. If they commit adultery with you, they are likely to commit
            adultery against you!
      -- Enraptured love is commanded, which means it can be learned
         (and relearned)

   B. LOVE YOUR LORD...
      1. The Lord is omniscient, and sins will have their effect - Pro 5:21-23
         a. He sees all - Pr 15:3
         b. God will judge fornicators and adulterers - He 13:4
         c. When one sins against the Lord, their sins will be exposed
            - Num 32:23
      2. How much better to love the Lord, and be loyal to Him
         a. He looks for those loyal to Him - cf. 2Ch 16:9; Mt 22:37
         b. Joseph's devotion to God prevented him from being tempted
            - cf. Gen 39:7-10
         c. The Lord blessed Joseph because of his faithfulness - cf.
            Gen 39:21; 41:50-52
      -- Those who love the Lord foremost, love their spouses forever!

CONCLUSION

1. The promise of adultery is deceptive...
   a. It promises pleasure
   b. It really promises death and condemnation

2. The price of adultery is terrible...
   a. Which too many learn by sad experience
   b. Which all can avoid by heeding God's Word

3. The prevention of adultery is possible when our love is in the right place...
   a. Loving the Lord with all our heart
   b. Loving our spouses with God's blessing

Heed the wisdom of Solomon regarding "The Peril Of Adultery", and we
will not destroy our lives with misdirected affection...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Killing, Murder, and the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



Killing, Murder, and the Bible

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Eight minutes and 18 seconds into his 15-minute opening speech during our February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate, Dan Barker claimed that the God of the Bible cannot exist because biblical teachings regarding killing are contradictory. He stated:
In Exodus 20:13, in the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill.” In Leviticus 24:17 a different phrasing of it with a different Hebrew word: “He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” However, we find in Exodus 32: “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Put every man his sword by his side, slay every man his brother, his companion and neighbor.” First Samuel 6: “The people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.” The Bible is filled with examples of the biblical God committing, commanding, and condoning killing. The God of the Bible says “Don’t kill.” The God of the Bible says “Kill.” He does not exist (Butt and Barker, 2009).
Is it true that the biblical position on killing is hopelessly contradictory and can be used as evidence that the God of the Bible cannot exist? Certainly not. The biblical injunctions about killing and murder are in perfect harmony with themselves, and with the principles of justice, and cannot be used as evidence against the God of the Bible.
First, according to Dan, the command to avoid killing in the Ten Commandments is a blanket statement that includes avoiding every type of killing. Yet, we must consider that just one chapter later, in Exodus 21:12-17, we read several injunctions pertaining to capital punishment in which the death sentence is permitted for those who premeditatively murder another person due to malice, who kidnap a person to sell him, or who curse their father or mother. The original readers understood that the commandment in Exodus 20:13 did not mean that all killing was wrong, including capital punishment. They understood that certain qualifications, as are detailed in the rest of the Law, put limits, restrictions, and allowances on the term “kill.” Barker would have us to believe that whoever wrote the book of Exodus was so ignorant that he did not catch contradictory statements that are separated by less than one chapter. Yet, such an idea is ridiculous in light of the remarkable accuracy and acumen of the Old Testament instructions (see Butt, 2008) that were used by the Jewish community for almost 1,500 years, many of which were the basis for the legal codes of modern nations. The arrogance of the current atheistic community to assume that the original readers of the Old Testament were so dim-witted as to accept contradictory statements less than a chapter apart is astounding. If a statement about killing is made, and then within a few verses, the statement is qualified and expounded upon, the allegation that all killing is being included in the original instruction cannot be maintained.
Second, Barker frequently uses this alleged contradiction in his writings as well as his debates. In his book, godless, he claimed that the commandment in Exodus 20:13 cannot be translated “Thou shalt not murder,” because the Hebrew word ratsach sometimes means something other than murder. To prove his point, he listed the following five Hebrew words most commonly translated as “kill” or “murder”:
muth: (825) die, slay, put to death, kill
nakah: (502) smite, kill, slay, beat, wound, murder
harag: (172) slay, kill, murder, destroy
zabach (140) sacrifice, kill
ratsach (47) slay [23], murder [17], kill [6], be put to death [1] (Barker, 2008, p. 204).
To further “prove” his point, he listed several places in the Old Testament in which the term ratsach, means something other than murder. He cited Deuteronomy 4:42, a verse that uses the term to refer to involuntary manslaughter. He also noted Numbers 35:30-31, in which the term is used for the justifiable capital punishment inflicted on a murderer. Barker’s contention, then, is that if the term can ever be used to mean something besides murder, then it must be used that way in Exodus 20:13.
The fatal flaw in Barker’s assertion is that of equivocation. “Equivocation is classified as both a formal and informal fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)” (“Equivocation,” 2009, emp. added). [NOTE: Although Wikipedia is not usually considered a scholarly source, equivocation is a commonly used concept and Wikipedia’s wording was the most concise and clear of the various sources consulted.] Notice how Barker is equivocating in this instance. He is rightly saying that the term ratsach might be used for justified killing like capital punishment, but he is insisting that this definition must be used in Exodus 20:13. Yet, when we see the other definitions, such as murder, for the word ratsach that are available, we realize that the definition of murder fits the context of Exodus 20:13, not the concept of justifiable killing such as capital punishment. By forcing the word ratsach to have the same definition in all places, Dan alleges to have found a contradiction. Dan stated: “Modern preacher must be smarter than Hebrew translators if they claim that ratsach means “murder” exclusively” (1992, pp. 207-208). But the claim is not that the word means murder exclusively, but that in the context of Exodux 20:13 the context shows that the word means murder. In truth, Barker must be smarter than the entire Hebrew nation and all linguists since the time of the Bible’s writing to be able to prove that ratsach cannot mean murder in Exodus 20:13, when both the context and standard meanings of the word allow for such to be the case. His logical fallacy of equivocation, however, is plain to see and is inexcusable for a man who has been studying his Bible and debating for as many years as Dan has.
The only proper way to determine the meaning of a word with multiple meanings is to look at the context. In the context of Exodus 20:13 and other injunctions to avoid “killing,” the clear meaning is that some types of killing, such as premeditated murder out of malice, are forbidden, while other types of killing, such as that done by the government as punishment for certain wrong doings, are permissible.
The use of our English word “kill” provides a good example of how words can be used. Suppose we say: “It is wrong to kill your neighbor,” but then we say, “It is not always wrong for a policeman to kill his neighbor.” Are these two statements contradictory? No. Not if in the first instance we use “kill” to mean intentionally, premeditatively killing out of malice, etc., but in the second we mean the policeman may shoot his neighbor if the neighbor was shooting at him, was holding hostages at gunpoint, etc. Biblical statements about killing, murder, and capital punishment are not contradictory.
Besides this alleged contradiction, Dan and his fellow atheists also contend that it is unfair for God to be in the position to decide when killing is justifiable or not. They contend that humans should have the same prerogative about deciding who lives and dies as God should have. Thus, they say, God cannot be in a position to determine when killing is justified if humans are not in this same position—the same rules must apply to God as to all humans. Barker opined: “Why is God special?” (2008, p. 204). Atheists continually overlook, however, the concept of authorization. Not everyone has the same authority to administer punishment. While it is true that a thief might deserve 10 years in prison, an individual cannot capture the thief, lock him in his basement for ten years and be considered moral. Only the government has the right to try the thief, find him guilty, and sentence him to prison. A vigilante cannot break into a federal penitentiary and kill all the inmates on death row, even though they are sentenced to death. Why? Because that individual does not have the authorization to kill those people. God has authority over life and death because He gives it, and he knows all the thoughts of those committing crimes and all the consequences of the punishment He administers (see Butt, 2004). The atheists’ contention that God and humans have the same prerogative over matters of life and death is logically flawed.
In conclusion, the biblical instructions regarding killing, when viewed in context and not equivocated, are clearly harmonious and without contradiction. Certain types of killing, such as premeditated murder done out of malice, are easily identified from the context as forbidden killing. While capital punishment administered by the proper authority is clearly not under discussion in the biblical statements against “killing.” Alleged Bible contradictions that exhibit such poor scholarship and dishonesty should be viewed by the reasonable observer as evidence against atheism and for the Bible’s accuracy and unity.

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2004), “The Skeptic’s Faulty Assumption,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2230.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God, (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Equivocation” (2009), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation.

Jonah and the "Whale"? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.





Jonah and the "Whale"?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Skeptics frequently have railed against the allusion to a “whale” in Matthew 12:40 in the King James Version. They have insisted that the very idea that a person actually could be swallowed by such a creature and survive is preposterous. Yet this charge has been shown to be impotent for two reasons: (1) historical precedent exists for the possibility of just such an occurrence; and (2) the text of Jonah insists that the sea creature in question was orchestrated supernaturally by God for the purpose intended (see Thompson, 1996, 16:86). God specifically “prepared” (mahnah—appointed, constituted, made ready) a great fish (Gesenius, 1847, p. 486). The same term is employed in the same book to refer to additional direct manipulations initiated by God. He also prepared a plant (4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement wind (4:8) [see Wigram, 1890, p. 733]. George Cansdale was correct in concluding: “[T]here is no point in speculating about the full physical explanation of an incident that primarily is metaphysical, i.e., miraculous” (1975, 5:925, emp. added). McClintock and Strong agree: “[T]he transaction is plainly miraculous, and no longer within the sphere of zoological discussion” (1881, 10:972). Jonah’s survival after being inside a sea creature is no more remarkable than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the “burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:27).
In addition to the evidence that may be deduced for (1) the credibility of a whale swallowing Jonah and (2) the miraculous preparation of the creature by God, a third clarification is in order that pertains to translation. The actual text of the book of Jonah states that “the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17). The Hebrew term (dahg) that underlies the English translation “fish” (1:17; 2:1,10) is a broad term that “always has the collective meaning ‘fish’ ” (Botterweck, 1978, 3:135). William Gesenius, whose lexicographical labors in the Hebrew language were without peer, defined dahg merely as “fish” (p. 189). Eminent Hebrew scholar, C.F. Keil, insisted strongly that “[t]he great fish, which is not more precisely defined, was not a whale” (Keil and Delitzsch, 1977, 10:398, emp. added). We conclude, therefore, that the word used in the book of Jonah to refer to the sea creature that swallowed Jonah, refers indiscriminately to any type of fish—without regard for the technical taxonomic, classification schemes developed by the scientific community in the last few centuries. It has the same generic latitude that inheres in the English word “fish” has, which can refer to any number of cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates—from a trout, bass, or crappie to sharks, rays, jellyfish, and crayfish (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, p. 665).
However, a point of clarification needs to be sounded even here. According to the present zoological nomenclature, a “whale” is not a “fish”—it is classified as a mammal. Hebrew linguistic experts note no such distinction in the terms used in the Old Testament. The ordinary term for “fish” (dahg) would not necessarily exclude the whale in its application.
The Hebrew uses three additional terms that are germane to this discussion. Two of the words are closely interrelated: tan-neem and tan-neen. The first term generally is translated (though erroneously) as “dragon” in the KJV. Newer translations typically use “jackal,” except in Ezekiel 29:3 and 32:2, where the creature’s habitat is obviously aquatic, so “monster” generally is employed (Day, 1939, 2:873). The second term is treated more loosely in the KJV, and variously translated as “whales” (Genesis 1:21; Job 7:12), “serpent,” archaic for “snake” (Exodus 7:9,10), “dragon” (Jeremiah 51:34), and “sea monsters” (Lamentations 4:3). The third relevant term is “leviathan”—a transliteration of the Hebrew term liv-yah-thahn (Job 41:1; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1). This “very large aquatic creature” (Gesenius, p. 433) was unquestionably a now-extinct, dinosaur-like reptile that once inhabited the oceans (Lyons, 2001). Whereas the term “leviathan” undoubtedly refers to a specific type of animal, the previous two terms (tan-neem and tan-neen) are generic and nonspecific like dahg. [Interestingly, Isaiah 27:1 refers to leviathan as both a “snake” (nah-ghahsh) and a “monster,” or “reptile” (NKJV) (tah-neen)].
What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that on the fifth day of Creation, God created sea life. He used two terms to specify these inhabitants of the “waters.” The first was “souls” (Genesis 1:20,21b)—the ordinary term for living “things,” or “creatures” (nephesh). The second was “sea-monsters” (Genesis 1:21a)—the plural of tan-neen (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 1967/77, p. 2). This latter term is important for understanding the generic nature of the Hebrew language in its reference to the animal occupants of the sea. The word is translated erroneously as “whales” in the KJV. The NKJV has “sea creatures,” the ASV, NASB, RSV, and NEB have “sea monsters,” while the NIV has “creatures of the sea.” These latter three renderings are accurate representations of the Hebrew. They illustrate the in-built ambiguity that characterizes the Hebrew designations of animal species in the Old Testament. [NOTE: The term translated “birds” (Genesis 1:20,21, 22,26,28,30) doubtless possesses the same latitude and indiscriminate flexibility in meaning, thereby designating any creature that has the capability of flight, including mammals (e.g., bats), insects, and reptiles (e.g., pterodactyl).]
Moving to New Testament Greek, and the verse under discussion in this article (Matthew 12:40), did Christ refer to the great fish of Jonah as a “whale”? Matthew records that Jesus employed the Greek term ketos to refer to Jonah’s sea creature. The Septuagint translators used the same term in their rendering of Jonah 1:17. Greek lexicographers are decisive on the meaning of this word. The highly respected Greek scholars Arndt and Gingrich offer only one definition for ketos—“sea-monster” (1957, p. 432). The dictionary that was designed for use with the United Bible Societies’ prestigious Greek New Testament text (A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament) defined ketos as “large sea creature” (Newman, 1971, p. 100). Thayer listed three terms—“sea-monster, whale, huge fish” (1901, p. 346), with the reference to “whale” being merely one possibility among many others within the broader sense of the term. Renowned Bible commentator Albert Barnes insisted: “It is well known that the Greek word translated as whale, in the New Testament, does not of necessity mean a whale, but may denote a large fish or sea-monster of any kind” (1949, 1:134, italics in orig.). He speculated that the creature was a species of shark. McClintock and Strong elaborated further by noting that the term “is not restricted in its meaning to ‘a whale,’ or any cetacean; ...it may denote any sea-monster, either ‘a whale,’ or ‘a shark,’ or a ‘seal,’ or ‘a tunny of enormous size’ ” (10:973). Respected Bible scholar J.W. McGarvey wrote: “The Greek word here translated whale is ‘sea monster’ ” (n.d., p. 306). Lenski also preferred the rendering “sea monster,” stating that “[t]he ‘whale’ of our versions is only an effort at translation” (1961, 1:493, emp. added).
The versionary evidence is surely confusing to the average English reader of the New Testament. The KJV, ASV, and RSV all render ketos in Matthew 12:40 as “whale.” Their rationale behind this unjustifiable linguistic decision, which Lewis maintains has created “an unnecessary problem” (1976, 2:178-179), remains a mystery. Ironically, all three versions translate Jonah 1:17 as “fish.” On the other hand, the NASB, NEB, and REB all have “sea monster” in Matthew 12:40. Three translations that handled the matter in a comparable fashion to each other include the GNB (“big fish”), the NIV (“huge fish”), and the NKJV (“great fish”). It also should be noted that, as a matter of fact, the generic word in Greek for “fish” is ichthus—not ketos. The latter term varies from the former in that ketos refers generically to a sea monster, or perhaps, a huge fish (cf. Vine, 1952, p. 209).
What conclusion is to be drawn from these linguistic data? Both the Hebrew and Greek languages lacked the precision to identify with specificity the identity of the creature that swallowed Jonah. As Earl S. Kalland affirmed, “[t]he identity or biological classification of this great water monster is unknown” (1980, 1:401). Both dahg and ketos “designate sea creatures of undefined species” (Lewis, 2:178).

REFERENCES

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Arndt, W.F. and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Barnes, Albert (1949 reprint), Notes on the New Testament: Matthew and Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1967/77), (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung).
Botterweck, G. Johannes and Helmer Ringgren (1978), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Cansdale, George S. (1975), The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Day, Alfred Ely (1939), “Dragon,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, James Orr, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Kalland, Earl S. (1980), “dagdaga,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer Jr., and Bruce Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1977 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lewis, Jack P. (1976), The Gospel According to Matthew (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Lyons, Eric (2001), “Behemoth and Leviathan—Creatures of Controversy,” Reason and Revelation, 21:1-7, January.
McGarvey, J.W. (n.d.), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1881), Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1970 reprint).
Newman, Barclay M. Jr. (1971), A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (London: United Bible Societies).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Thompson, Bert (1996), “Jonah, Jesus, and Anti-supernaturalism,” Reason and Revelation, 16:86, November.
Vine, W.E. (1952), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).
Wigram, George W. (1890), The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).

Jesus, Rudely Interrupted by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.




Jesus, Rudely Interrupted

by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.


Criticism of the Faith is nothing new. Whether big-budget documentaries, bestselling books, or blockbuster movies, the media is glutted with criticism aiming to overturn the faith of millions. It seems that every year a new angle emerges during the seasons when people step back to reflect upon their faith. As believers consider the truths of Christianity, hostile criticism attempts to revamp, revise, and rewrite what Christians have believed for two millennia. Christmas and Easter are perennial target release dates for books, articles, and television documentaries promising to reveal secrets that will turn Christianity upside down.
One of the most recent contributions of New Testament scholar and textual critic Bart Ehrman is a book entitled, Jesus, Interrupted. Released in 2009, this book picks up where his earlier work, Misquoting Jesus, leaves off. Ehrman continues his assault on the Christian Faith, assuring believers that his criticism does not controvert Christianity, but informs it. Since this information started him on the journey to agnosticism, it is easy to see how his assertions could be construed as disingenuous.

PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

Raised in a “fundamentalist” Christian home, Ehrman graduated high school and attended the conservative Moody Bible Institute. He continued his studies at Wheaton College in Illinois, and later received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary under the watch of Bruce Metzger, one of the foremost textual scholars of the 20th century. Somewhere along the way, he became increasingly disenchanted with the Christian Faith. Although he was a denominational minister during his time in graduate school, Ehrman has now left his Christian upbringing far behind. He now considers himself a “happy agnostic” (2005, p. 258). Jesus, Interrupted goes farther than his previous work, claiming not only that the Bible is full of scribal errors, but that the gospel accounts are fraught with contradictions and late inventions. In this sense, according to Ehrman, the story of Jesus—the historical man—was “rudely interrupted” by late insertions into the text. Though it has been well received on the popular level, Ehrman’s work has not met with approval from those best quipped to evaluate his claims. In his blog, respected New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III critiques Ehrman’s book, saying,
It is mystifying however why he would attempt to write a book like Jesus, Interrupted which frankly reflect [sic] no in-depth interaction at all with exegetes, theologians, and even most historians of the NT period of whatever faith or no faith at all. A quick perusal of the footnotes to this book, reveals mostly cross-references to Ehrman’s earlier popular works, with a few exceptions sprinkled in.... What is especially telling and odd about this is Bart does not much reflect a knowledge of the exegetical or historical study of the text in the last thirty years. Even in a work of this sort, we would expect some good up to date bibliography for those disposed to do further study, not merely copious cross-references to one’s other popular level books.... The impression is left, even if untrue, that Ehrman’s actual knowledge of and interaction with NT historians, exegetes, and theologians has been and is superficial and this has led to overly tendentious and superficial analysis (2009, emp. added).
Ehrman spends a great deal of time demonstrating what he considers to be problems with the gospel accounts. The discussion includes the nature of authorship, supposed inconsistencies and contradictions, and the idea that the gospel accounts present different accounts of events in Christ’s life. This includes the assertion that no one knows who wrote the gospel records. It was not Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as tradition claims, because Jesus’ disciples consisted of “[l]ower-class, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking peasants from Galilee” (2009, p. 106). Someone else far removed from the original historical setting must have written them.
Ehrman overplays the old chestnut that the gospel accounts were written anonymously. They are considered formally anonymous because none ever identifies their author. John’s gospel account gives the “Beloved Disciple” as the one responsible for its writing, and many believe that Mark mentions himself as the young man who runs away while Jesus is arrested (cf. Mark 14:51). Authors in the ancient world often referred to themselves indirectly in their work, and this is as close as any of the gospel accounts come to identifying their authors.
While the evangelists did not sign their work, this is a far cry from not knowing who wrote the gospel accounts. There was virtually no dispute in the early church over who wrote each one. If they had truly been written anonymously, there would be no end to the debate. In one sense we could compare the book of Hebrews to the gospel accounts. Like the gospel records, it, too, is formally anonymous. However, no one really knows who wrote it, and no less than a half dozen possibilities are cited as potential authors. If the gospel accounts were truly in the same category, the debate over their authorship would have continued to the present.
Ehrman notes that, “[s]tories were changed with what would strike us today as reckless abandon.... They were modified, amplified, and embellished. And sometimes they were made up” (2006, p. 259). He never explains why he chooses to believe that the stories concerning Jesus are legendary or fictitious. Biography, legend, and fiction are different genres, each with its own distinguishing characteristics. This is common fare for Christianity’s critics: to announce the Bible as fiction, legend, myth, or fairy tale without justification or supporting evidence. Ehrman notes:
For nearly twenty-five years now I have taught courses on the New Testament in universities, mainly Rutgers and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In all this time, the lesson that I have found most difficult to convey to students—the lesson that is the hardest to convince them of—is the historical-critical claim that each author of the Bible needs to be allowed to have his own say, since in many instances what one author has to say on a subject is not what another says. Sometimes the differences are a matter of stress and emphasis; sometimes they are discrepancies in different narratives or between different writers’ thoughts; and sometimes these discrepancies are quite large, affecting not only the small details of the text but the very big issues that these authors were addressing (2009, pp. 98-99).
One of the episodes Ehrman cites as a bona fide “error” in the gospel records is Christ’s cleansing of the Temple. John locates this event in the Passion Week, while the Synoptics present the incident early in Jesus’ ministry. So which is it? Which one made the mistake? Actually, it never would have crossed the minds of the ancient audience. The ancients did not insist on chronological accuracy in the same way moderns do. Ancient authors often arranged their material chronologically, but they also arranged it topically, and, in the case of the gospel accounts, theologically. To force an ancient work written in another culture to conform to modern Western standards is scholastic arrogance at its worst.
Many moderns put the Bible under a literary microscope, analyzing every chapter, every verse, every word. In the eyes of hostile critics, even the tiniest difficulties balloon into monumental testaments to the inaccuracy and unreliability of the Bible. Ben Witherington makes an interesting point in this regard. He says that we can think of the authors of the four gospel accounts much like painters. Each painted a portrait of Jesus based on his own perspective, as well as the purpose and rationale intended by the Holy Spirit. They selected the material to include in their work, a selectivity that is individualistic in nature. That the gospel writers would highlight different events, or give different angles on the same events, is expected. Modern biographers work the same way. Critics expect the authors to record the life of Jesus with a high-resolution, all-seeing lens. Rather than holding the biblical books to the same standards in use during the time they were produced, critics insist on modern standards in a way that is as unreasonable as it is irrational. To force the ancient text to conform to modern standards is bad interpretive method. It is a fundamental building block of reading ancient literature—the Bible included, of course—that one must seek to understand the context in which the literature is written. One cannot read ancient Greco-Roman literature by modern standards any more than one should read a modern newspaper with the same frame of mind as a citizen of ancient Rome. To continue Witherington’s analogy, this would be like criticizing Leonardo Da Vinci for not using a digital camera to photograph the Mona Lisa.
To point out one supposed contradiction highlighted in Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman argues there is an irreconcilable difference concerning the death of Judas as recorded in Matthew and Acts. Matthew says that Judas hanged himself and the place became known as the Field of Blood because it was purchased with blood money (Matthew 27:3-9). In Acts, Luke claims that the Field of Blood is called that because, as Ehrman puts it, Judas burst open and bled all over the place. The reading in Acts is not as different as Ehrman suggests. Both accounts agree that the property is purchased with Judas’ money. Luke is ambiguous as to why the field was named the Field of Blood, while Matthew is explicit. Ehrman barely gives a passing nod to suggested attempts to reconcile the two, and downplays them accordingly. It is highly likely that Judas hanged himself, and after death, when the immune system is no longer working, bacteria began to multiply and produced gases that bloated Judas’ body. If the rope broke or Judas’ body fell when others were taking him down, Judas’ body would have ruptured upon striking the ground. This is not imaginative speculation, but the practical stuff of elementary biology.
Another problem in Jesus, Interrupted is the absence of comparative data concerning manuscript evidence from other ancient sources. Other Greco-Roman sources ranging from Greek philosophers to Roman government officials demonstrate far less attestation than the New Testament. The average classical author may have a work represented in only a couple of dozen manuscripts. The oldest copy of these works is often many centuries after the original date of writing. For instance, in the cases of Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, their most famous works are represented by a handful of manuscripts dating to the medieval period. Comparing the New Testament to these writings, the Bible has well over 5,700 copies. Roughly a dozen date to within a century of the original authors, and about four dozen exist that date to within two centuries. The earliest copy of a New Testament text is P52, otherwise known as the John Rylands papyrus. Housed in the British Library, this fragment of John’s Gospel dates to approximately A.D. 115-135. The contrast between the textual evidence of the New Testament and the manuscript evidence from the classical world could not be more vivid. The noted historian F.F. Bruce recounts the words of Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director of the British Museum: “The interval between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence [is] so small as to be negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed” (Bruce, 1972, p. 20).

THE OTHER SINS OF EHRMAN

Ehrman plays his hand with considerable calculation. In his The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, he asserts, “there is not a single reference to Jesus or his followers in pagan literature of any kind during the first century” (2008, p. 41). While technically correct, it is somewhat misleading. Josephus is Jewish—and therefore not pagan—yet he mentions Christ in two passages in his Jewish Wars at the end of the first century, references which are undisputed among scholars specializing in Josephan studies. If we were to include the first two decades of the second century, we would have to include several pagan authors: the Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus, along with Pliny the Younger, governor of the Roman province of Bithynia.
The assertion that no references to Jesus and His followers exist in the first century has one important qualification that Ehrman seems to have omitted deliberately. While there are no extant references to them known to scholars today, Suetonius and Tacitus would have needed historical records or official documents in order to produce their biographies of the Roman emperors. While these documents no longer exist today, first-century records seem to have been readily available to historians. In other words, these documents did exist, but have perished with the passing of time. Ehrman’s rather misleading statement should have read, “there are no surviving references to Jesus or his followers in strictly pagan literature during the first century A.D. known to scholars presently.”
New Testament scholar Robert Yarbrough points out in Ehrman’s work the  “traditions of (much later) noncanonical gospels are consistently privileged vis-à-vis their canonical counterparts; the assumption is that we must treat their assertions as potential historical fact even though the assertions were not written down for a century, at least, after their putative origin” (2000, p. 366). Ehrman tends to elevate the non-canonical gospel records over those of the New Testament even though they were written centuries after the life of Christ. The constant claim that the gospel accounts cannot be trusted because they were written decades later than the events they describe vanishes, and the non-canonical gospels are considered relatively trustworthy despite the fact that the amount of time that separates them from the events they purport to describe is not decades as with the gospel accounts, but centuries.
As an example of his approach, Ehrman notes that the Gospel of Peter features “[a] giant Jesus and a walking, talking cross,” adding, “It’s hard to believe that this Gospel was ever lost” (2009, p. 209). He seems to think that Christianity was like any other religion, accepting the fantastic with little regard for reality. Many of the extracanonical gospels Ehrman prizes demonstrate the same features. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas has a number of odd miracle stories. The author appears to enjoy telling fantastic stories of weird happenings during the fictional childhood of Jesus, and the more bizarre the better. This provides a vivid contrast with the canonical gospel accounts, which record the happenings of Jesus’ life in sober fashion. It should be no wonder why the Christians dismissed the tall tales of gospels like Peter and Thomas. They preferred believable biographies to other “gospels” that were the ancient equivalent of science fiction.

THE HERMENEUTIC OF SUSPICION

As a text critic, Ehrman is quite good. As an interpreter he is abysmal. He insists on a rigidly literal interpretation of the text that does not allow for nuances or for passages from one book to complement those from another. In some cases, individual authors may state components of a biblical doctrine individually, but Ehrman forces them into different camps. It seems almost as if his method aims to pit the biblical authors against one another rather than allowing them to work together. In this way, Ehrman is able to create contradictions where none actually exist. In some places, he appears to deliberately distort the theological viewpoint of the biblical authors in order to manufacture divergent viewpoints. He typically notes that scholars have attempted to reconcile these positions, unsatisfactorily as far as he is concerned. After explaining what appear to be perfectly legitimate and convincing solutions to each problem he discusses, Ehrman then reverts to an unorthodox reading of the text and pronounces the difficulty unsolvable.
For Ehrman, the ultimate reason why more people do not know about these supposed contradictions is because the population is largely ignorant—the very problem he seeks to remedy. In his view, scholarship has not written popular-level books, and seminary-trained ministers are unwilling to share this information with their church members. When discussing his view that most of the New Testament books were not written by the actual authors, he asks with incredulity, “why isn’t this more widely known? Why is it that the person in the pew—not to mention the person in the street—knows nothing about this? Your guess is as good as mine” (2009, p. 137). It never seems to cross his mind that seminary-trained ministers and biblical scholars who know about these views find that they fail to agree with the evidence.
Yarbrough makes a powerful point about the cavalier attitude Ehrman takes toward the biblical text: “the early Christians who supposedly invented stories about Jesus...and then believed them were not deconstructionists engaged in teaching careers in comfortable university positions but tradesmen and professionals who knew the daily struggle for survival and were willing to die for their convictions” (2000, p. 370). For those living in the first century, the Christian faith was not a detached system of belief that could be adopted or discarded without consequence. Mistrust, discrimination, and even persecution ever loomed above the heads of the early Christians. Making the choice to follow Christ was a genuine commitment that had real—and often highly unpleasant—consequences.
The reader of Jesus, Interrupted must be careful to sort through Ehrman’s arguments. He is an accomplished textual critic, but allows preconceptions and personal bias to color his conclusions. Rarely, if ever, does Ehrman engage the opposing viewpoint. He seems to delight in manufacturing biblical contradictions and then refuses to allow them to be solved. His work makes it seem as if he has uncovered a secret hoard of biblical knowledge previously denied to all others. To those who are academically equipped to evaluate the truthfulness of Ehrman’s claims, this treasure trove of trade secrets is nothing more than fool’s gold.

REFERENCES

Bruce, F.F. (1972), The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press).
Ehrman, Bart (2005), Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco: HarperSanFransicso). 
Ehrman, Bart (2006), Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend (New York: Oxford University Press).
Ehrman, Bart (2008), The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (New York: Oxford University Press).
Ehrman, Bart (2009), Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York: HarperOne). 
Witherington, Ben (2009), “Bart Interrupted—A Detailed Analysis of ‘Jesus Interrupted’ Part 1,” [On-line], URL: http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/04/bart-interrupted-detailed-analysis-of.html.
Yarbrough, Robert (2000), “The Power and Pathos of Professor Ehrman’s New Testament Introduction,” Perspectives in Religions Studies, Winter, 27[4]:363-370.

DON’T TELL ME OF GREAT THINGS by Jim McGuiggan



DON’T TELL ME OF GREAT THINGS

One day the broken but contented prisoner heard the song of a bird. It was up there on the window ledge and at the sight and sound something stirred in the man. Imagine him with great effort, and perhaps many failures, making his way up the wall and looking out at familiar sights and faintly hearing sounds that carried from a great distance. He sees the mountains, a river meeting the lake, the white wall of a little town, trees and a green island. He saw an eagle fly, free and high, in the blue sky before his strength was gone and he slipped or clawed his way back down into the cell. Having seen, he couldn’t “unsee” and the vision unsettled him; now the cell with which he had grown content was like a coffin that suffocated him and he wished he’d never been loosed from the chain and the pillar; seeing life’s possibilities destroyed his peace and we can easily imagine him for the first time beating on the door and yelling, “Let me out of here! I’ve got to get out of here!”
This is how he put it:
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o’er one we sought to save.
Would it have been better had he not seen through the window the world he was deprived of? One thing is sure, he felt worse. His contentment was shattered and his peace obliterated. The vision of something finer turned his cozy little cell into a coffin. Would it have been better had he never looked? I suppose it depends on what we mean by “better”. Would you prefer to know that there exists so much more than you have, even if it created great pain in you? Would you prefer to remain ignorant and contented? There’s something to be said for both sides of the argument.
But is there really? A poor soul told me that she had never felt real bewilderment or sense of alienation in life until she became a Christian and life changed in many ways that were not pleasant. [“Arrrgh! I heard that everything would be better, easier, and it isn’t!” I suppose a baby in the womb feels that kind of distress at birth.] Did Peter ever feel the wave of awed fear before that day when he sat in a boat with Christ and witnessed the nearness of God that drove him to say, “Get away from me, for I am a sinful man O Lord”? It’s true isn’t it that in some true sense of the words that the closer we get to God the more we feel out of place in our own skin and in a world of people like us? And what makes it more distressing, on those occasions when we feel it most intensely, is that we can’t ask to be taken out of the world. Jesus Christ said to us: “As the Father sent me, so I send you into the world.”
Is it really a source of wonder that the better we see him the more we recoil at everything else because it is unlike Him? Imagine what it must have been like for Him to be elbow to elbow with the evil that is in us and flows from us. Now that is a true source of wonder! Somewhere in all this, his glorious vision of His Holy Father, Himself and us, in all our awful need, made Him restless and divinely discontent. His holy compassion toward us grew until, as Browning put it, it became a rage to suffer for humanity. And He thought it all worthwhile. Christ is no Greek god sitting blissfully unconcerned sipping the wine in the presence of equally unconcerned divine colleagues. He looked over the rim of the palace walls in the land of the Trinity, saw our desperate need, felt compelled to go and found the Father and the Spirit already preparing His gear for the assault on all the powers that enslave the bodies, minds and spirits of the human family.
We must love the best we see and know or we’ll never be anything worth talking about. I understand that in our debilitating weariness we don’t want to hear challenge and upward calls. “Leave me alone, I’m too tired.” Too much disappointment and dashed hopes, too many responsibilities, too many pressures—humans aren’t made to walk like kings! That makes sense but there are other things that make sense too and even when we’re too weary to want to continue we wish we had the energy to do it.
Listen, things not only can be better, they will be better! God’s Son became incarnate to make it clear that we’re not alone in this cosmic and eternal enterprise. “God is with us!” The Incarnation is the witness to that; that’s why He became “homeless” and yet never more at home than when He became one of us and remains one of us.
Blessed are the weary for they will rise up in strength like an eagle.

DID THE APOSTLE PAUL RECOGNIZE CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS? BY STEVE FINNELL



http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com/2017/05/did-apostle-paul-recognize-christian.html


DID THE APOSTLE PAUL RECOGNIZE CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS? BY STEVE FINNELL


Did the apostle Paul acknowledge the concept of Christian denominations? No, he did not. Denomination are created so Bible doctrine can be altered to meet the opinions of men.

Romans 16:16 ......All the churches of Christ greet you.(NASB)

The apostles Paul did not say all the churches of Judaizers greet you.--- Galatians 2:4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who has sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of The No Resurrection of The Dead greet you.---1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of Rebellious Men and Empty Talkers greet you. ---Titus 1:10-11 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say all the churches of Hymenaeus and Philetus greet you.---2 Timothy 2:17-18 .....Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Shipwrecked Faith greet you.---1 Timothy 19-20 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck  in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Worldly and Empty Chatter greet you. ---1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"---21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith....(NASB)

The apostles Paul did not say the churches of Savage Wolves  greet you.---Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things , to draw away the disciples after them. (NASB)

The apostle Paul did not say the Angels of Light churches greet you.--- 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.(NASB).

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Catholics greet you.

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Methodists greet you.

The apostles Paul did not say the churches of the Communities greet you.

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of The Salvation Army greet you.

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Calvinists greet you.

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of Baptists greet you.

The apostles Paul did not say the churches of Pentecostals greet you.

The apostle Paul did not say the churches of The Latter Day Saints greet you.

There is only one body of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:1-16)