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-Newsweek’s ‘Sinful’ Portrayal of the Bible

by Dr. D ~ January 8th, 2015

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The owners and editors of Newsweek Magazine decided to begin 2015 by resurrecting their failed magazine. For some reason they thought it would be a good idea to start over by trying to destroy the Bible and Christianity and by offending hundreds of millions of Christians.

They probably figured that the controversy would be good for publicizing their re-start. They could have done far better if publicity is what they wanted, they could have gone after the Quran and Islam and had their offices attacked rather than merely stirring up hundreds of written responses from Christians.

The offending cover article was entitled-  “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald. Eichenwald is known to be an accomplished award winning journalist and writer in the area of finance and business. But in this case he is far outside his normal area of competence and has chosen to write a scurrilous screed full of half truths and questionable research against the Bible with an obvious bias against conservative American Christianity. The real ‘sin’ is how he misunderstands and misrepresents the Bible, traditional Christian teaching, and millions of Christian believers.

Here’s how Eichenwald began his assault:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

<Read the whole article>

For those of us who have seriously studied the Bible and the latest scholarship there is absolutely nothing new in what Eichenwald presents or claims. One can find them on nearly any atheist website opposing Christianity and the Bible. It is the fact that he represents himself as a journalist seeking the truth that is most problematic. In the process, he doesn’t bother to seek out or present any of the able responses that Christian scholars have made to any of those claims. It is a ‘hit piece’ against the Bible and Christianity and he obviously never intended to present the other side at all while disguising himself as an impartial observer which he wasn’t.

I have found two articles which I believe are the best of the best in responding to Eichenwald’s attack. The first is by Dr. Albert Mohler- “Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin.” Here are a few quotes:

But Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.

In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print. …

In the main, he argues that historic Christianity has been based on nothing but a lie…

Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.

<Read the whole article>

The second article is by Kyle Beshears- “Snoping Newsweek: Is the Bible Really that Misrepresented?” In his post Beshears ‘fact-checks’ some of the major assertions made in the Eichenwald article. Here are 2 examples:

NEWSWEEK WILL NOT PICK SIDES IN THIS ESSAY

Quote: “Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God.”

Claim: The article will not advance any specific theological position.

Answer: No, Eichenwald does in fact put forth many different theological positions in front of others, thus advancing them over others. For example, Eichenwald later writes, “The Trinity—the belief that Jesus and God are the same and, with the Holy Spirit, are a single entity—is a fundamental, yet deeply confusing, tenet. So where does the clear declaration of God and Jesus as part of a triumvirate appear in the Greek manuscripts? Nowhere.”

The view that Eichenwald has just put forth is called Unitarianism, which has been advanced over a different view called Trinitarianism.

TRANSLATIONS OF TRANSLATIONS, COPIES OF COPIES

Quote: “No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

Claim: The Bible we have today has been tainted due to it being translated over and over again as well as copied over and over again.

Answer: No, the Bible has not been translated over and over again. A translation occurs when an individual, knowledgeable in two or more languages, takes a text written in one language and proceeds to copy it into another language. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic. When the books were copied and passed on to later generations, they were copied in Hebrew, Greek, and some Aramaic.

Thus, when a Bible translator sets out to translate the original biblical languages into English, she is not doing so from Greek to Latin to Old English to modern English as Eichenwald has suggested. Instead, she is doing so from Greek to English. So, we are not reading “a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations.” …

<Read the whole article>

Both articles are well worth reading adding fact to Eichenwald’s scurrilous fantasy.  If this edition of the new Newsweek re-make is symptomatic of what is to come, I for one will never read another copy since it is obvious that the writers and editors cannot be trusted to be impartial, to do due diligence on research, or to seek any semblance of the truth.            *Top

-Merry Christmas 2014

by Dr. D ~ December 25th, 2014

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok,_2010

(Image via Wikipedia)


Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Christmas Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing our family had a Christmas Eve tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke ( Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

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-Is Religion Really the Cause of Most Wars?

by Dr. D ~ November 28th, 2014

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone make the comment that ‘most wars are caused by religion’ like it was self evident. With the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, 9/11, not to mention past fiascos like the Crusades and The Inquisition, the claim seems rather intuitive and has become an icon of modern cultural truth that is accepted and unquestioned by millions. But is it really historically accurate?

I believe the facts of history disprove this popular notion. The major wars of the 20th century had political/ideological causes and most wars in the ancient world were caused by territorial expansion. Just how many conflicts were really caused by religion? Some were for sure but my reading and study of history has driven me to conclude that only a faction of the wars in documented human history really had a religious contribution or cause.

Now there is research published in a 3 volume work- "Encyclopedia of Wars" by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod that documents the entire history of human warfare and shows that only 123 out of 1763 or only 7% of the recorded human wars had a religious cause or basis.

Obviously 7% is far from ‘most’ and the historical research above really demonstrates that 93% of the wars were not caused by religion or a vast majority had different causes.  So what seems to be so self evident to so many is so far from the truth that it is surprising that it ever had any credibility at all. Yet this false assertion about religion will probably continue to receive popular acknowledgement and usage in our increasingly secular culture.

Here’s a link to an excellent and informative article from Huffington Post written on this same issue: 

“Is Religion the Cause of Most Wars?” by Rabbi Alan Lurie

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-Happy Thanksgiving 2014

by Dr. D ~ November 27th, 2014

300px-Thanksgiving-Brownscombe

       ("The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth": Wikipedia)


Happy Thanksgiving 2014 to you and yours. Our traditional Thanksgiving message follows:

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American celebration that began nearly four centuries ago with a deeply religious people, the Pilgrims, giving thanks to God for preserving them though a very hard year and bringing them their first bountiful harvest which they gratefully shared with their indigenous neighbors.

It was our first President George Washington who proclaimed that our first official national day of public thanksgiving should be dedicated by observing and:

“…by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.

In recent years the ‘politically correct’/secular crowd has rewritten the history of the first Thanksgiving placing an emphasis upon the hand that the indigenous American Indians played in helping the original Pilgrim community to survive. In the process they have redirected the emphasis on thanks towards neighbors and friends and away from the providence of Almighty God.

While it is always good to be thankful for others who have enriched our own lives and certainly that has a good part to play in the celebration. Nevertheless the major emphasis of Thanksgiving should always be upon God as it was on that very first occasion.

For my family and I, we will be praising and thanking the Lord God Almighty for the bounties and the providence that he has bestowed upon us this year in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. May Our Heavenly Father bless your family today and continue to bless all of us and this nation during this holiday season and in the year to come.           *Top

-Does Liberalism Oppose the 10 Commandments?

by Dr. D ~ May 21st, 2014
Brooklyn - Downtown: New York State Supreme Co...

  (N Y State Supreme Court Building: wallyg)

Here’s an interesting article by Matt Barber contending that ‘liberalism’ in America substantially opposes and violates the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). It is a little weak in a couple of spots but he does have some good points throughout:

How Liberalism Violates All 10 Commandments

The following is a quote from it:

Modern liberalism – "progressivism," leftism, secularism, pick your poison – is built upon, by and for sin itself. Liberalism’s entire fabric is constructed by precept planks that are soaked through and stained by man’s arrogant rebellion against our Creator God.

In sum, liberalism is folly. It represents man’s futile attempt to disorder God’s natural order. It’s the unholy brainchild of God’s very first enemy, given by that enemy to God’s favored creation, us, with the sole purpose of destroying that creation.

Unfortunately, we’re all too happy to help. Liberalism just formalizes the process, making sin public policy.

<Read the whole article>

Response: When I read Barber’s comments on #4-Keeping the Sabbath Holy, I originally thought it was rather weak until I remembered as a child growing up in the 50’s that almost all businesses were closed on Sundays where we lived until the ‘blue laws’ were reversed by a new liberal leaning mayor and city counsel. A lot has changed in America since then. Some for the good and others not so much. I remember a time when the American culture was substantially ‘Christian’ but the rise of secular liberalism has change all that.

Now conservative Christians who continue to follow Biblical principles are in danger of being marginalized, demonized, and even discriminated against if you take into account the recent experience of the Benham brothers or the many Christian business owners who are trying to avoid paying for abortifacients or forced participation in same-sex marriages.

Fact is, many Americans no longer really care what the 10 commandments may teach or feel obligated in any way to necessarily follow them. We now live in an America that no longer officially recognizes the authority of the Bible or the 10 Commandments even though many of our laws were originally based upon them.            *Top

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-So The ‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ May be ‘Authentic’ But The Story Really Isn’t

by Dr. D ~ April 10th, 2014

In 2012 the main stream media went crazy over a ancient papyrus fragment that indicated that Jesus had a wife. Now experts are saying that the document appears to be authentic. Here’s the story from the Blaze:

Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School professor, sparked debate and intrigue in 2012 when she unveiled what was believed to be a centuries-old papyrus fragment that referred to Jesus Christ having a wife.

Now, scientists who analyzed it are saying that the text, known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” is more likely to be ancient than a modern forgery, leading King to believe that it is in fact a genuine document.

Despite seemingly agreeing that the papyrus is likely hundreds of years old, the historian has maintained her belief that it does not definitively prove Christ was married.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Here’s the part that the broadcast media substantially ignores since it does not fit their secular template and agenda. The document might be an ‘authentic’ papyrus written between the 4th or 8th centuries but the story and message it portrays merely reflects the teaching of a group of folks also from the era. It is overwhelmingly doubtful that the document records any real events or facts from the First century when Jesus actually lived.

So did Jesus really have a wife? If so, this document which was written at least 400 years after Jesus lived does not prove it and the Gospels and letters written during the lifetime of the Apostles and disciples who actually knew and walked with Jesus say otherwise.              *Top

-Does the Recent Camel Study Really Disprove the Bible?

by Dr. D ~ February 28th, 2014
A photograph of three camels, taken at the Pyr...

                                                     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has become fashionable, popular, and even lucrative to find reasons to disbelieve in the Bible and its accuracy. Any research or study that comes along that challenges the Bible in any way gets immediate play in the main stream media and rarely are any retorts or responses ever published.

Recently a study on the domestication of camels in the eastern Mediterranean region indicated that there was no use of the animal in the Holy Land until the 10th century B.C. (B.C.E.). The news was sensationally presented far and wide as proof that the Bible was inaccurate.

But does the study really prove that the Bible story, which indicates that Abraham and his family regularly used camels as early as the 21st century B.C. (B.C.E.), is necessarily wrong? I don’t believe so.

Fact: Abraham and his family came from Mesopotamia where domesticated camels were in use at the time.

Is it really so far fetched to consider that a family from Mesopotamia would bring along their camels when they moved to Canaan? Then teach the following generations of their family to continue to raise and use them even though the people in their new country did not have or use them at the time?            *Top

Here are two good articles that also address this issue in even greater detail:

“Does the Camel Study Really Prove That the Bible Is Inaccurate?” 

“Camels and Babylonian Floods Disprove the Bible? Am I Missing Something?”

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-Excellent Pro-Life Responses to 6 Pro-Abortion Arguments

by Dr. D ~ January 27th, 2014
English: Rep. Albert Wynn (left) joins Gloria ...

                                      (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

January 22 was the 41th anniversary of Roe v Wade which opened the door to the slaughter of over 50 million babies and counting. For 41 years the philosophical arguments over this issue have continued unabated while the killing continues.

Here’s an excellent article by Darrell Cheney answering 6 major Pro-Abortion arguments:

6 Conservative Responses to the Left’s Pro-Abortion Arguments

Here are the six major arguments answered in the article:

1. Pro-life and pro-choice is a religious issue

2. The two sides are pro-life and pro-choice

3. Men shouldn’t exact their will upon women

4. The baby isn’t a human life until a certain point, it’s just a mass of cells

5. It’s not a human unless it’s viable outside of the womb

6. It’s a woman’s choice and right to decide what she does with her body

Read all of the excellent pro-life answers to these arguments. I found the response to #6 to be the most poignant, relevant, and convincing of any I have ever read:

It’s very simple – your DNA. So what would happen if we took cells from the baby in the womb and compared that DNA to cells from anywhere in the woman’s body? The DNA will be different because it’s two different people. The baby in the womb, though dependent upon its mother, is not her body.

So where does that leave us? Scientifically, the baby in the womb is a unique, human life, no matter how early on in development it is.

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-Christmas: Was Jesus Really Born On December 25? No, But So What!

by Dr. D ~ December 25th, 2013
Gerard van Honthorst Adoration of the Shepherd...

                                                    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was Jesus really Born On December 25? No, but so what!

This is a question that I have been asked many times over the years but lately most folks are aware that it is almost certain that the Jesus was not born on that date.

Now all sorts of people have jumped on that fact and have observed: ‘since we now know that Jesus was not born on December 25 why celebrate Christmas at all?’ From my perspective anytime is a good time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and that is what Christmas was really all about in the beginning.

Christmas means ‘Christ Mass and the Church chose to make a special service at least once a year to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Western Christian church chose December 25 which had been a major pagan holiday but the Eastern Church chose to celebrate their ‘Christ Mass’ on January 6 which was the traditional date for when the Wisemen visited the Christ Child.

It is true that the Bible doesn’t really tell us what day Jesus was actually born on.  The only scriptural clue is that there were shepherds in the fields tending their sheep that night. That means the first Christmas Eve probably happened sometime during a span from April through October. So we while we don’t know when it actually happened we can be somewhat certain that it was not in December. Fact is the real date of the birth of Jesus was lost to history and never was considered important to the first century Christians.

Nevertheless like I said before, anytime is a good time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. One thing for sure, the traditional Christmas season brings the message of the nativity and the coming of God’s Son into the cultural mainstream at least once a year regardless of all of the commercialism and that was the original reason for the ‘Christ Mass’ in the first place.

Also the Christmas season has become a special time for families to get together. A time for giving gifts and for reaching out and helping others. A time that transforms our lives for the better and a fine tribute to a child who grew up and changed the world and was the greatest gift of all time:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16 (ESV)

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-A New ‘Age of Martyrs’?

by Dr. D ~ November 30th, 2013
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

              (The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer: Wikipedia)

Note: The following article is based upon a 5 part series on my main blog- Answers For The Faith.

 

Reportedly an average of 100,000 Christians a year have been killed for their faith in the last decade. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, outgoing president of the U.S. Catholic bishops recently referred to the beginning of the 21st century as "a new age of martyrs."  

Others dispute the use of the term ‘martyrs’ for those killed and maintain that their Christian faith was only one of the reasons for their deaths. Nevertheless there has never been a time since the first and second centuries where more Christians have been killed at least partially if not substantially because of their faith.

It is happening in so many different countries that the immensity of it all is somewhat distorted and most Christians in the West aren’t really aware of how huge this really is. Plus it is really difficult to keep up with it all.

In some ways it is like what happened in the 1940’s when journalists for many different reasons failed to report upon the very real holocaust that was killing thousands of Jews everyday.

Many believed that it was too terrible to be true and that a ‘civilized’ Western country like Germany could never be involved in such a monstrous enterprise. Others considered it to be mere war propaganda or excited exaggeration. Besides no one really had access to the death camps until the war was substantially over. Then the truth turned out to be far worse than anyone had ever imagined. Millions of Jews and many others slaughtered- men, women, and children.

Today we are in the midst of a ‘war’ on Christians all around the world mostly being perpetrated by radical Muslims and mostly ignored. Documented estimates put the number at around a hundred thousand killed a year. Nothing like the holocaust in Europe of the 40’s but maybe closer to the persecution and genocide of the Christian Armenians in Turkey during WWI.

What is really lacking is a context to make sense of it all. The media is covering all of these events and you can find references to each and every one on the Internet. But each story is presented as standing alone in the midst of some greater political or cultural context that minimalizes the religious motivations and connection.

Since so many in the Western media are secular folks in which religion is only a minor part of their everyday lives and experience, it is really hard for them to even consider that religion could be a major motivator behind many events around the world. As it is most reporters project their own secular views and perspectives into their understanding and analysis of news. 

Intellectually they realize that religion is important to the folks they are covering but look for any other possible explanation to frame the news in. So many of the instances where Christians are persecuted or killed are explained away as unique events brought on by on-going political battles, civil war, or racial/cultural strife.

I believe that there are two major contexts that help to make sense of why more Christians are being killed now than anytime in last 1,000 years or so. Number one- the rise of radical Islam and number two- a world-wide Christian revival and harvest.

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