VIDEOS – Album FOTO – Protest la Roma #BODNARIU Rome, Italy

FOTOS – α ✟ Biserica Maranata din Roma ✟ Ω

Protest la Roma. — at Ambasciata Di Norvegia. VIDEO: Mirel Emanuel Ciobanu Huma

Reclame

Catacombele Romane – O plimbare virtuala prin catacombele Priscilla din sec. II- IV cu Google Street view – Tour of Roman catacomb from 2nd century

Photo Google street view

CLICK on photo for virtual tour

Globe and Mail UK raporteaza: Catacombele din strada Via Salaria in Roma au fost deschise dupa un proiect de innoire.Catacombele Priscilla au fost folosite din secolul II pana in secolul IV. Ele au fost descoperite in secolul 16.

Comisia pentru arheologie sacrală de la Vatican şi Google Maps au semnat o colaborare pentru ca oricine doreşte să poată vizita virtual catacombele din Priscilla – monument supranumit „regina catacombelor” din Roma creştină a secolelor II-IV.

Utilizatorii Google Maps pot face un turn virtual al catacombelor în mişcări la 360 de grade, într-o necropolă care se întinde pe mai mulţi kilometri.

Locul a fost folosit ca zona de înhumare între secolele al II-lea şi al IV-lea d. Chr.

Pentru vizitarea catacombelor urmaţi link-ul acesta – a virtual visit, sau faceti click pe poza de mai sus.

Photo credit catacombepriscilla.com

The 3.5 Year Siege of Masada (70 – 73 A.D.) (Video)

VIDEO by MissionDisciple

Michael Horton Is The Doctrine of Inerrancy Defensible?

Michael Horton at a Ligonier Conference:

Young evangelicals and inerrancy – There is a resurgence of commitment to inerrancy among a lot of young christians, especially in the young calvinist movement and that’s very encouraging. But, there are also signs that there is a generation that knew not the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, that Dr. Sproul and Dr. MacArthur were a part of so many years ago. I remember when I was a teenager I went to one of those conferences, and I was wrestling with some of these questions myself, and I was raised in a very conservative evangelical background, but I’ve always had some restless, inquisitive spirit and didn’t want to just take things whole as they were being taught to me without asking some questions and being convinced in my own mind. What I was questioning, in many respects, the doctrine of inerrancy really wasn’t. I think a lot of younger christians right now are struggling with inerrancy for a lot of the same reasons their parents and grandparents may have struggled with it. (PHOTO CREDIT derekgriz.com)

First of all, we’ve had 3 centuries of rationalistic criticism of the supernatural. Now, obviously, if we’re going to have a word form God, given to us in history, you have to be at least open to the plausibility for the supernatural world view. You can’t say that miracles never happen, and yet believe that God has spoken, has broken into our world to speak to us in our history. We’ve had 3 centuries of a presupposition that says, out of the gate, without any investigation, without any criticism or questioning, that things happen, purely according to natural processes. God doesn’t speak and God doesn’t act in history. He may have created the world, He may have wound up the clock, but He doesn’t get involved now that things are running along marvelously. God doesn’t speak either, to us in judgment that would terrify us, as Israel was terrified when God spoke at Mt. Sinai. Nor does He speak to us the good news of salvation, because we don’t need to be saved. And so, there’s this integral relationship between Pelagiansim- the belief that we can save ourselves, and naturalism- the belief that we don’t need to hear from  a god outside of ourselves. And that’s what we’ve seen for the last 3 1/2 centuries with the rise of the enlightenment, where spirit and letter were set in opposition. This was already clear in some of the mystical sects of the Middle Ages. It was very clear in the radical anabaptist movement, where leaders like Thomas Muntzer that Luther just preaches the external word, that merely just beats air, but, we have that inborn spiritual word in our hearts.  And so, the external word of Scripture and the internal word of the Spirit speaking directly in our hearts became a hallmark of western consciousness. It was picked up by the rationalists and secularized by people like Lessing and Kant and others, who said we have an inner morality that we turn to. We can trust that reason within us, and we don’t need a word outside of us. We do not need an external God outside of our own hearts, or our own minds, or our own experiences to tell us who we are, where we are, what or problem is and what He has done to solve it.

Immanuel Kant, one of the great leaders of the enlightenment said, „The concept of God, and even the conviction of His existence can be met only in reason, and cannot first come to us, either through inspiration or through tidings communicated to us, however great the authority behind them”.  He went on to say that the 2 things we can be convinced of most certainly of are the starry heavens above and the moral law within. But, of course this means that human existence is totally self enclosed, like the roof over this building. There’s nothing above us, there’s no one to tell us why He made us, how He made us, what His purpose is for our life, and how we stand before Him in the light of that purpose, and what He has done to save us. Closed up in ourselves. „In brief,” said Kant, „we seek moral imperatives. In brief, I am only interested on what is incumbent upon me, clearly distinguished form what God does for me. Hence, nothing new is imposed by the Gospel upon me. Rather, whatever the state of those reports, new strength and confidence is already given to my already good dispositions. And so, one of the real reasons I think we struggled with this, from Immanuel Kant to Oprah, is that we don’t allow anything from outside of our own narrow experience and reason to interrupt us.

Christianity is a rational faith. Not rationalistic, but rational. There is no great doctrine in the christian faith that isn’t a mystery, that doesn’t transcend our reason. But, there is no doctrine in christianity that is against reason itself. But, rationalism is itself against reason because it presupposes a world that doesn’t exist  before it even investigates that world. 

Unwilling to be judged by God’s external law, many of our contemporaries are unwilling to be saved  by God’s external Gospel. In one sense, the modern age has been very rationalistic: „Just the facts, ma’am.” And on the other hand, very mystical. When it comes to finding ultimate meaning in life, they realize they can’t find ultimate meaning in science and reason, and so they turn inward. As C. S. Lewis said: They sort of just become scientist magicians- going to the lab and thinking critically as scientists, and then going home and playing with their ouija boards. (10)

There’s a schizophrenia in out culture that is that is very much a part of our problem with an external authority. Also, there have been scuffles with science. The reformation contributed mightily to the rise of modern science, in many ways. But, there’s the history, especially in the Medieval church of Copernicus and Galileo that still haunts us to this very day. Today, science and orthodox faith are polarized as never before. Scientists often go beyond the methods, sources, and criteria of their own field, in order to pronounce on philosophical and metaphysical questions, while, sometimes christian theologians transgress the boundaries of the faithful interpretation of Scripture and adopt extra biblical theories. And, what happens in the process often is you have young people going off to college not knowing what they believe and why they believe it, and they get caught in this crossfire between science and faith.

Thirdly, there are genuine discrepancies. After 3 centuries of relentless criticism, we can say there are genuine discrepancies. Now, discrepancies are not errors. Discrepancies are problems that we haven’t solved in our exegesis. They’re not problems with the text, but they’re problems with us. But, it’s not as if this was shown for the first time in the enlightenment. If you read Jean Calvin’s commentaries, or if you go back to John Chrysostom, for that matter. Or, Augustine, you see that they point out discrepancies. But, as in any science, you don’t throw a whole paradigm that is stable and accounts for the greatest amount of data overboard, simply because you can’t explain anomalous data. And if that’s true, and the sign is that it is generally true when we come to the inerrancy of the Scripture.

For the Protestant reformers, the defense of Scripture, they agreed with Rome on the inerrancy of Scripture- Rome has down  to the second Vatican council agreed with the inerrancy of Scripture, at least officially. The reason the informers were so insistent on Sola Scriptura was not because they have a sort of Islamic attachment to a book, It was because they knew that in that book, God had spoken to us outside of our experience, outside of our reason, outside of what we ever could have know for ourselves and delivered the only hope for our salvation and the salvation of the world. And so, the Gospel itself was bound up with Scripture.

The apostle Paul tells us, famously, in 2 Timothy 3:14 „But, as for you continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training and righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped, for every good work.” The first thing we need to look at here, in this definition of inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is:

Photo credit www.beliefnet.com

God’s own testimony to His word is in Scripture.

The Bible’s testimony to itself. The Bible is a canon, coming from the greek word canon, which means rule, it’s sort of similar to a constitution. And in the ancient near eastern world, the world of political treaties from which our covenantal analogies in Scripture come, in that ancient near eastern world, a great king would liberate a lesser people from tyrants and then annex that lesser people to himself. And so, his word had both liberating power and when he gave them the treaty, binding, regulating power. And it’s no different between Yahweh and His people. God is the great king, greater than all kings of the earth, and God has annexed us, He has chosen us, redeemed us, called us to Himself, liberating us from lords that cannot make us safe. And so, God;s word not only saves, it rules. It’s not only the word of liberation, that saves us from our enemies. It is also that constitution by which the people of God are bound, and by which His church is regulated. Nothing added, nothing subtracted on penalty of death. And there’s a line in these ancient near eastern treaties of Israel’s neighbors. With these political arrangements, the treaty always had a clause saying that whoever adds to or takes away from the words of this treaty X,Y, and Z would happen to them. And usually it was death. We find the exact same formula in the Old Testament. We read that death will come to anyone that adds words to this law or takes away from the words of this law. And in the last book of the Bible it ends the same way: Whoever adds words or takes away from this prophecy, his name will be taken away from the Book of Life.

That’s what it means to have a canon. But, how can we embrace the christian canon over other supposed canons? For instance, the Koran. What distinguishes the Bible? Scripture, of course, is self authenticating. That means that as we read the Bible we hear God speak to us, and you don’t need to know the argument for how that happens, to really hear God speak through His word. You don’t have to become an apologist, you don’t have to defend it to all detractors. The word of God speaks for itself because in that word, we have God Himself addressing us through the lips of His ambassadors.  And yet, we need to always be prepared for the defense that we have, and also to help christians struggling with issues like inerrancy, to think through the internal and external evidence for the faithfulness of God speaking in His word.

The best way to do this is to start with Jesus. 

Jesus is GodJesus declared and eyewitnesses confirmed that He was the promised Messiah. That was His message concerning Himself. He’s the Son of God and the Son of David, who was sent to deliver us from our sins. That’s the main message and ministry of Jesus Christ. And He explained that He came to die on the cross, and to be raised 3 days later. So, we start with the message of Jesus. Who did Jesus believe He was? And what did Jesus believe He had come to do? And then, the second question to ask is: Did He do that? Was He successful? Did He accomplish everything that He promised? And when we look at  that we see great evidence internal and external for the resurrection of Christ.

Those with the means, the motive and the opportunity to disprove the resurrection of Jesus failed to do so. They failed to come up with evidence. In fact, the ancient rabbinical sources, the rabbis of Jesus’ day said that He was born illegitimately and was probably demon possessed because ‘He performed signs and wonders and led our people astray by the work of Satan’, confirming therefore that He was performing signs and wonders, and confirming the report that the unpardonable sin the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to say that Jesus was performing these miracles, not by the power of the Holy Spirit, but by the power of Satan. They offered implausible arguments about the disciples having stolen Jesus’ body, proving once again that the body wasn’t there. Hindsight is 20/20, but you almost think that if you’re a later Jewish apologist, you’d wanna say, „Why couldn’t anybody shut up? Why were they talking so much? Why were they going after christians so much? Every time they attacked these claims that swirled around Jesus, they substantiated many of those claims as hostile witnesses.”

Roman and JEwish historians have both confirmed that a great dissension erupted in Jerusalem over the whereabouts of Jesus’ body and over the immediate rise- this wasn’t a slowly evolving myth, over the immediate rise of the disciples of Christ who proclaimed His resurrection, on penalty of death. And none of the disciples showed themselves to be in any mood for martyrdom. They fled the scene leaving the women to sort of fend for themselves. The men fled. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Where do we learn about this? In the Bible itself. If you start a new religion would you represent yourself and your buddies that way? Well, the New Testament is telling us warts and all what had happened because whatever it was it was great enough to bring them out into the light of day and proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ even though they knew that they would be martyred for that claim.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The person who wrote that, the apostle Paul, was commissioned by this risen Christ. And the other apostles were commissioned directly by Jesus Christ. They had to be eyewitnesses. And so, what we have now in the New Testament is a canon composed through human agency, with the criteria of their being eye witnesses and commissioned directly by Jesus Christ for this purpose.

Let me just say a little word about trinitarian cooperation in inspiration. The cooperation of the persons of the trinity is very important here. Every work that the godhead does is done from the Father, in the Son, through the Spirit.- Whether it’s creation, whether it’s the Exodus and the conquest, or whether it’s the life and ministry and work of Jesus Christ. Nothing is done by the Father without the Son and the Spirit. Nothing is done by the Son without the Father and the Spirit. Nothing is done by the Spirit without the Father and the Son. They cooperate in every work. And that is true of inspiration as well.

If we just have a doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy that focuses on the Father’s speaking (such as): It’s inerrant and infallible because God said it, I believe it, that settles it- we do not yet have a sufficiently christian doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy. But, some people say, „No, it should focus on Christ, Christ is the content, the substance of Scripture and this often leads to a canon within a canon approach. That is, whatever preaches Christ, in other words, whatever ‘I’ think preaches Christ is inerrant, and everything around it might be full of errors, but at least that is true, at least the Gospel is true. And then, some people take the Holy Spirit and separate the Holy Spirit from the word, so that you hear things like, „What the Holy Spirit is saying to us today is is just as important as what He said to the prophets and the apostles.” What we have to do is recognize  that in the work of inspiration, the Father is speaking, the Son is the content, and the Holy Spirit is the one who both inspires the text and illumines our hearts to embrace it.

In 2 Corinthians 1, the father is the faithful promise maker and we read: „All of the promises of God find their yes in Christ. Yet, we can only utter our amen to God for His glory because He has also put His seal on us and given us His spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”. There you have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in cooperation. Other passages 2 Timothy 3:15017, that I just read also makes that point very well. The Father is mentioned, the Son is mentioned, and the Spirit is mentioned. (25:00)

But, when you go back and read the creation account, one of the things that has really stood out to me in recent years is the way you have there in the creation account two forms of God’s creative accounts. The first is ex nihilo, bringing the world out of nothing. „Let there be..” and there was. That’s the formula that we’re familiar with. But, in those same passages you have references to God saying, „Let the earth bring forth.. ” and the earth brought forth. Now here’s the thing. Liberals and fundamentalists often sound alike in their presupposition, that to the extent that something is from God, it is not through human agency. This is something we really have to work through because hyper supernaturalism and naturalism are kissing cousins. The first thing we have to see here is because it’s trinitarian, the Father working in the Son, by the Spirit, both declaring, „Let there be…” and there was, but also through the work of the Holy Spirit saying, „Let the earth bring forth…” God used the natural capacities of the prophets and the apostles to bring forth that which He had foreordained before the foundation of the world. Photo credit for book www.amazon.com)

To delineate this a little bit more, what I’d like to do in the time remaining is look very briefly at a book that I think remains probably the best book on this subject. B. B. Warfield and A. Hodge’s book ‘Inspiration’ remains untouched. Their arguments have yet to be answered by critics. And so, I wanna mention their points very briefly, cause I don’t think anything here has changed yet.

  1. They point out that the rejection of inerrancy, which means that the Bible does not err in all that it affirms in the original autographs, they point out that the rejection of inerrancy is typically founded ultimately on a false view of God’s relation to the world. In other words, either miracles cannot happen, or whenever God acts it always has to be miraculous. Here again, the fundamentalists and the liberals often play off against each other. If it’s going to be an act of God, to that extent, it can’t come through human agency. You have to deny the human aspect. And yet, these authors say biblical inspiration, not only includes the untrammeled play of all the authors faculties, but involves the very substance of what they write. It’s not just how they write it, it’s what they write that is human. It is evidently, for the most part a part of their mental and spiritual activities. The writers say God’s superintendence does not compromise creaturely freedom. Our freedom is not divine freedom, it’s always creaturely freedom. But precisely because God gives it to us by analogy, we really do have freedom. This means that it is not the case that as to the extent that God does something, creatures don’t do something. Rather, it is precisely because of God’s sovereign freedom that human freedom is even possible in the first place. God has no trouble, therefore, producing a Bible that is without errors, without interrupting or taking away human freedom. There’s this assumption that human freedom implies error. „To err is human”, that’s not the case at all. And of course, Jesus Christ was without sin, and yet tempted in all respects as we are. If we believe that He was truly human, yet without sin we can believe that the Bible is truly human, yet without error.
  2. Warfield and Hodge underscore the redemptive historical unfolding of biblical revelation. In other words, the Bible did not fall down from heaven, it’s not like Muhammad receiving the Koran, supposedly as it dropped down from Allah to Muhammad. It’s not a collection of eternal timeless  thoughts and principles. It is a story, it is  narrative that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation. And that which is less clearly revealed in the Old Testament is more clearly revealed in the New Testament. 1200 years of this organic, like a plant, organic development is what produced our Bible. That’s what we have in the Old and New Testaments. A canon that has grown through the centuries, through the superintending work of the Spirit, working through creaturely means. Therefore, say the authors, theories concerning  authors, dates, sources, and modes of composition that are not plainly inconsistent with the testimony of Christ and His apostles. As to the Old Testament or with the apostolic origin of the books of the New Testament cannot in the least invalidate the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy. Those questions are open. They’re questions about the humanness of the books. Whenever we bump into the obvious humanness of the Bible, that shouldn’t diminish our confidence in its divinity, its divine force. Rather, it should strengthen it, that in all of its humanity, in all of its diversity, in all of its plurality of witnesses and voices, clearly, there is one voice behind it all that brings it together. In Scripture, no less than in history itself. (32:50)
  3. These Princeton theologians faced squarely the question of contradictions and errors. They noted problems in great detail. Some discrepancies are due to imperfect copies, which textual criticism properly considers. Other discrepancies may be due to an original reading that has been lost. Or we may simply fail to have adequate data, or be blinded by or own presuppositions from understanding a given text. They say, „Sometime we are destitute of the circumstantial knowledge which would fill up  and harmonize the record, as is true in any historical record. But, you don’t have historians running off and saying the battle of Waterloo never happened because there are things we can’t explain. The record itself, they say, furnishes evidence that the writers were in large measure dependent on their knowledge upon sources and methods in themselves fallible. Peter, himself, says that the prophets were diligently searching out in an inquiring as they were writing out their prophecies, what this might mean. They weren’t Nostradamus, walking around receiving a word of knowledge to see into the future. No, God gave them audible verbal words  in those case of ‘Thus saith the Lord”, analogous to ‘Let there be light,’ and there was. And in other cases, led them to the trammel free of their faculties and in His sovereignty determined that what they said would be an inspired record of what He wanted for future generations to be recorded.
  4. (skipped # 4)
  5. The claim of inerrancy is that in all their real affirmations, these books are without error. Every sentence here, every thesis of Hodge and Warfield was carefully selected and every word in it is very important. Now, there are many things in the Bible that are not real affirmations, but are assumptions on the part of the writer. A reductionistic view of language would only lead us to reject the inerrancy and the trustworthiness of the Bible because we couldn’t reconcile it, for example, with the cosmology of the Psalmist with Einstein. It would be ridiculous. As Jean Calvin said, „Moses was not an astronomer. He wasn’t doing astronomy. He was giving us God’s inspired  infallible record of His covenant relationship with His people and His sovereignty over the whole earth”. Whatever the Scriptures teach is inerrant. We have to ask: What is their purpose? What is being really affirmed in certain passages? Some critics have said, „Look, the Psalmist says that the world rests on four pillars. What an antiquated world view, as if they’ve never read poetry before. It may well be that the Psalmist assumed a cosmology or a world view  that was unknown until modern science. That may be, but what was he affirming? What is the real affirmation there of the Psalmist, especially when it’s in the form of poetry? He didn’t believe God had feathers, yet He spoke of God having feathers (cover me with Your wings…). We have to be very careful that we don’t hand liberals the fodder. A classic example that is often quoted is Matthew 13:32 where Jesus said that the mustard seed is the smallest seed. I can’t tell  you how many well educated scholars who used to believe in inerrancy and now they don’t, flounder on this passage. Of course the mustard seed is not the smallest seed in all the world. We know what the smallest seed in all the world is and it’s not that one. But, 2 things we can say by way of response. Jesus didn’t necessarily know what was the smallest seed in the entire world. In His state of humiliation He didn’t know the hour or the time of His return: Only my Father in heaven. In His state of humiliation Jesus Christ was faithfully telling  what He had been delivered from the Father. All of this, I received from my Father in heaven”. And so, Jesus was speaking to them in a way that they would have understood, out of a world, out of a place and time He belonged to very much, as a first century Jew. What’s really being affirmed in this passage is: The smallest seed you have any awareness of, any experience of in your daily life, the kingdom of God starts out like that, and gets  real big. Inerrancy requires our confidence, not in the exactitude of the biblical statements, but in the reliability  of the biblical statements. What is affirmed as reliable, not necessarily exhaustive?

Critics, also, often point out that if you follow the chronologies in the Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, you arrive, as archbishop Usher did in the 17th century, that the world was created Sunday, October 23rd 4004 B.C. Well, if that’s disproved, then the Bible therefore unravels and we can no longer trust in its authority. Well, now we know how chronologies work. Chronologies are not like the United States Census Report. Chronologies in the ancient world highlighted significant people in dynasties. You go from George Washington and skip to Abraham Lincoln. You don’t go from George Washington to his children, and their children and so forth. And the same is true in Matthew’s genealogy. Once again it’s a question of the scope. What is being claimed in each passage? As Warfield explains: It is true that the Scriptures were not designed to teach philosophy, science, or ethnology, or human history as such. Therefore, they are not to be studied primarily as sources of information on these subjects. Not because they’re unreliable, because they don’t address it. That’s not their purpose. That’s not their scope.

  • 6. An appeal to the inerrancy of the original autograph. This is kind of the Achilles’ heel. Critics will say, „What museum can I go to for the original autographs? If so, we can talk about whether they’re inerrant or not inerrant. You guys keep talking about the  inerrancy of the original autographs…” We’re clearly not saying that this (the Bible) is inerrant. Textual criticism is always going through and showing, after more careful research, more careful study that the ending of the Lord’s prayer isn’t in the best manuscripts. Because not much has changed through textual criticism, nothing touching any major point of doctrine , we can be convinced that as it is now, the conclusions that have been reached are pretty devastating to higher critics.

It is really important for us to realize that not only the Gospel, but the nature of God is implicated in this whole question of inerrancy, and that’s what I’m going to close with here.

I mentioned that the reformers bound their understanding of Scripture, the importance of the nature of Scripture with the content, the Gospel itself. Whatever the holy, unerring, and truthful God says is simply by virtue of  having come from Him holy, unerring, and truthful. In addition, the content of God’s speech is none other than the gift of the eternal Son, who became flesh for our Salvation. Revelation is therefore not merely an ever new event that occurs through the work of the Spirit, it is a written canon of biting, Spirit breathed, constitution for the covenant community unto all generations. That’s why Paul calls it a pattern of sound words, that we are to guard by means of the holy Spirit, who dwells within us. Of course this word creates. The Spirit creates through this word our act of faith in it. But, it is primarily, and first and foremost objectively the faith, once and for all delivered  to the saints.

Far more than ancient eastern rulers who demanded the death penalty for adding and subtracting from the canon does this great King, the Lord God almighty impose His canon with all seriousness. Secular kings could impose their constitutions simply by brute force, vascillating arbitrarily between harsh tyranny and careless abandon. But our King rules us, brothers and sisters, our King rules us in order to save us. He doesn’t rule us haphazardly, or tyrannically, although He has more power than all the kings of the earth. When He speaks, life comes to those who are dead. Sins are forgiven, and new creation dawns. That’s what happens when God speaks. In this way, we see the wide gulf separating christianity from Islam, for instance, in its claim.

And, I’ll conclude with this comparison and contrast. No Muslim embraces the Koran out of confidence that only there they can find the gracious face of a father, who warmly embraces them in His Son. Whereas the Koran is a collection of oracles supposedly dictated directly from Allah to Muhammad, the Bible directs us to the testimony of prophets and apostles over many centuries and in the proper voice of each author. Furthermore, whereas Paul reminded Caesar’s court that the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ were public knowledge , saying, „These were not done in a corner, as you, yourself know.. Everything, every miraculous claim in the Koran was done in a corner. A deep dark corner. Privately, not publicly, not open to investigation or criticism. 3 centuries of the greatest intellects of the western culture  have subjected the Bible to criticism precisely because it invites it, and has turned out to be better for the struggle. Islam means submission, based on the mere assertions of its leader. Christianity proclaims trust in Jesus Christ based on historical reports. And that same gulf separates Christianity from all of the inward looking enthusiastic movements of our age. Christians receive Scripture as inspired and inerrant because it comes from a faithful FatherIt speaks of a gracious Son, and it is certified by the Spirit who opens our heart to receive its treasures  for everything that we need in this passing evil age. And all other ground IS sinking sand.

VIDEO by WA BibleDepartment

The 3 1/2 year siege of Jerusalem (Documentary) 66 – 70 A.D. The first Jewish-Roman War

Photo credit en.wikipedia.org The first Jewish-Roman war

In 66 A.D.  General Vespasian of Rome, under orders from Nero Caesar, invaded Judea. After the death of Nero, Vespasian went on to become emperor of Rome in 68 A.D. and his son, Titus, took over the Judean campaign against the rebelling Jews. Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. and then went through the rest of Judea killing all Jewish rebels until finally ariving Masada in 73 A.D. where he destroyed the last rebel stronghold. Titus then returned to Rome and became emperor himself on June 24th, 79 A.D. upon the death of his father Vespasian.

The destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Jewish temple was, of course, all prdicted by both the Prophet Daniel and by Jesus Christ.

Here are just a couple of Jesus Christ’s prophecies concerning these things:

„Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, [Jesus] said, „These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”” -Luke 21:5-6

„”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”” -Luke 21:20-24

VIDEO by MissionDisciple

Os Guiness – Engaging an increasingly post-Christian culture in the west (Gospel & Culture Lectures)

in_the_world

~~You can always look at what conversion means at any moment by whether the church is likely to be worldly or not.

~~The key test is conversion. Conversion should be the radical break that is the bridge between an old way of life and old culture, and a new way of life and a new culture. And when conversion is as radical as it’s supposed to be, that radical about turn of heart-mind-spirit lifestyle- everything, then the church leads on to a new way of life that’s shaped by the Word and not by the world.

~~Now, let’s be blunt. The church in America is numerically large, compared with Europe and many other parts of the modern world. But, it is culturally desperately weak, because it’s weak and worldly. At point after point, after point, the church in America is shaped by the modern world. The world and not the church.

via www.churchleaders.com and photo via www.amginternational.org Video (47 min) from RedeemerCFW (Tim Keller’s Church).

One of the great turning points of World War II was the battle of Britain. And, both before and after that battle in June 1940, Winston Churchill made two of his greatest speeches. The speech before it is the more famous, and is recalled by the words of the last line: ‘their finest hour’. But, after the war was over, certainly after the battle was won, there was a burst of intellectual activity among some of the leading Christian intellectuals in Europe about another line that Churchill had said, in a speech not so famous. Churchill simply said, „The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon the outcome of this battle depends the future of Christian civilization.”

And after the war, T.S. Elliott, Jack M., Christopher Dawson, Emil Brunner and a whole host of the Christian intellectuals had a strong debate: What was particularly Christian about the victor? What did it mean that any civilization was Christian? How was it that the Christian faith was linked to civilization?And what were the prospects of restoring a genuine Christian influence in civilization today?

What’s interesting is that the same debate broke out after World War I, although a much more secular discussion. Historians who picked up H.G. Wells and many others, asked the question about civilization again. As we look book after 60 years of the second of these debates, you can see on the one hand where they were exactly right. They were at a moment when a fragility of the civilization showed through. And the underlying barbarianism was obvious. But, on the other hand, any hope they had of restoring civilization has not worked out.

Can we, should we really seek to change the world?

We are today, a long way from a christian civilization in the West. Many, for 30 years have blithely talked about turning America around, making a difference in culture, changing the world. But, can we, should we really seek to change the world? What I am not speaking to is  the crisis. You can easily argue at many levels of a divided West, of an American republic on the verge of potential decline, about the weakness and worldliness of the church in America. We could look at the various aspects of the cultural crisis, particularly in the West. But, I want to assume much of that, And, if that is so, what should our attitude be?

Is it that we resort to nostalgia or defeatism? No, obviously not as people of faith. But, what does it mean, to move potentially into something of a new darker age, if not a new dark age itself?

Let me lay out some thoughts arguing for a Christian renaissance:

1. Bear in mind the first, global task of the church in the global era.

As we look around the world today, the Christian faith is the world’s first, truly global faith. We are the most numerous faith on earth, the church is the most diverse community on earth. In many, perhaps most parts of the world the fastest growing faith on the face of the earth, not Islam. And our faith is through conversion, not demographics. And the Bible is quite simply the world’s most translated  book in all Christian history. But, the church is doing magnificently well in the so called global south and far from well, in the advanced modern world- the so called global north, Europe and the United States in particular. That leaves us with 3 grand global tasks:

  1. To prepare the global south. What is done in the church in the west is capitulation to the modern world the church helped to create. Much of the global south is premodern. So their challenge is coming. And anyone who sees the remarkable growth of the church through the Gospel in China, for example, where I was born is the epicenter of an explosion of the house church movement. Or in SubSahara Africa. Anyone who knows that story, which is real, encouraging and inspiring, knows that much of the growth is a mile wide and an inch deep, as the arch bishop of Uganda put it recently. You can see, the crying need in the global south is for discipleship to match the evangelism. And a discipleship that is aware of what’s coming, with all the challenges, subtle and overt of modernity.
  2. To win back the West. Many people look at the discouragement of the church in the west, and are discouraged and defeatist. But, if you think we are the product of 2 earlier missions of the West. The first of course was the conversion of Rome. Three hundred years- an incredible achievement under the Holy Spirit. But the faith that the Romans had conceived of was provincial misfits. We have replaced the ideology of mighty Rome itself. When the western empire fell, so did most of the western church. And less well known to Christians in the west today is the second mission to the west. The so called conversion of the barbarian kingdoms. What we Europeans need to acknowledge is that while the Chinese were civilized for thousands of years, we were the barbarians. Violent, war thirsty, warring, tribal, and it was the Gospel that gentled us. But the winning of the barbarian people to Christ is an extraordinary story. Patrick in Ireland. Columbo in Scotland. Columban, down through Gaul, and so on. But, of course we are now living in the twilight of that second mission to the west. And the challenge before us today: Do you commit yourself to  a third mission to the west? Do you believe that we could win the West back for our Lord again?
  3. Contribute constructively to the human future. We’re moving into what’s called the crunch generation. For those of you in your 20’s, in your adulthood, many of the world’s questions, global issues, demography, economic and environmental questions, nuclear… many, many issues are coming together. They will have to be answered wisely and well by your generation. Now, at such a moment, we followers of Christ are usually good at fighting evil. We have a long record, unprecedented in human civilization of reforms, of standing against injustice and oppression. But, today we are less good at getting into the thick of any of the great issues of human kind, not just the great evils. Conceiving and articulating, and struggling for constant solutions to guide human kind forward to the future.

2. Explore relationship between Christian faith and civilization

Explore the somewhat surprising relationship between the Christian faith  and culture in civilization. You can define culture very complexly. And the same for civilization. You can equally put them very simply: A culture  is simply a way of life, lived in common.  So you can talk about the youth culture, hippie culture, etc..- a way of life lived in common. A civilization, put simply  is a culture with sufficient extension (it spreads widely enough), sufficient duration (it lasts long enough), and sufficient elevation- it produces sufficient excellence.

If you think about it that way, the Christian faith is actually the decisive factor in what’s now described as the world’s most powerful civilization. If only because our civilization is globalizing the entire world and is not limited to any region or time. But, that’s surprising. We’ve first got to admit that the Christian faith is unnecessary to culture. Can you be good without God? Can you create a civilization without Christ? Some Christians have argued ‘No’. But, I think many have understood that all human beings, whether they recognize God or not are made in His image, living in His world, there is such a thing as common grace, and so you can have ‘good pagans’  who may be better artists than another Christian artist, or better husbands than another Christian husband. And equally, you can have great civilizations that have never had any regard for God, like the Chinese, or the Mayan or Greek, or Roman. Photo below http://www.mbconf.ca

Culture Gospel and ChurchYou can go further though, and say that the Christian faith is unlikely, as a faith to produce civilization. Jesus says, „My kingdom is not of this world.” And He is relatively indifferent to most of the issues we talk about today in political and global affairs. He repudiates and renounces force, which you need to establish any culture. And you can see that neither He, nor His first followers had any discussion or effort to build a culture or create a civilization.

And yet, it is undeniable that the Christian faith is the decisive force in the world. Of course, if we look at our western civilization, we owe a great amount to the Greeks: Philosophy, Science, Democracy, Drama, Tragedy, Literature. And the Greeks were the fist Europeans to have the self awareness that they were not in this case Asians. We owe a great deal to the Romans, particularly in America who prizes the Romans above the Greeks. Whereas in Britain, we prize the Greeks above the Romans. But, law, stability, order, empire lie much behind the American founders understanding of the American republic. And of course, we owe everything to the Hebrews: Supremely to their understanding of God, and all the difference that a radical, ethical monotheism makes. And his view of history and human agency  and a dozen other things.

We owe a lot to all of these. But, if you think we talk of western civilization- all of those were Mediterranean. What was it that made it European, and then Western? It was the church and the Gospel. And particularly, the winning of the blood thirsty barbarian European tribes.And there’s no question. If you look at the rise of western civilization, the church and the Gospel were the decisive factors in creating what we see today as the West.

You look at western civilization and say: What’s distinctive? Our reforms, our philanthropy, the rise of the modern universities, the rise of modern science, human rights, an indirect link to capitalism, an indirect link to democracy, and so on.. all going back to the Gospel and the Scriptures. (18:00)

3. Let’s acknowledge a paradox of our reformation heritage

Don’t misunderstand, I am an anglican out of the reformed heritage and a proud  and grateful heir of the Reformation, as an evangelical. It is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. We owe to the Reformation the rediscovery of the Gospel, the restoration of the Scriptures, and the reemphasis on lay people. And through that many historians have said- creation of the modern world. But, we have got to acknowledge with realism and humility that the story is a little deeper than that. And I add some factors, not to debunk the reformation, but to remember that God’s sovereignty in grace and sin, and the fact that as we work today in culture, we too must be realistic about what we are doing, and deeply humbled, because nothing we work at comes out as humbly as we had hoped. (continued below video….)

1. The Reformation’s complexity – There were 4 reformations. Most of us are from the 2nd Reformation of Jean Calvin. But, there was Luther, there was Zwingli, and there were the Anabaptists. Of course, now we recognize that the so called counter reformation was itself a reformation of sorts. So, you take even the 2nd Reformation, it has extraordinary sins of commission. Take the iconoclastic movement, which at the time destroyed the arts in various cultures.

Or you take the sins of omission: It is almost unbelievable today that the Reformation rediscovered the Gospel, but never rediscovered mission. The counter Reformation rediscovered mission.  And Matteo Ricci reached China in the name of the Jesuits. And the Reformation had no missionary movement to speak of. Or you look at one of the great blind spots of the Reformation. The whole notion of the cessation of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Reformation reacted rightly and understandably against the superstition before it, the way that healing and deliverance had become specialized- you went to a saint, or a shrine that was specialized and commercialized and exploited. The Reformation threw out the bath water, and sadly the baby and said that the work of the Holy Spirit had stopped with the Apostles. Clearly it didn’t stop with the Apostles in the New Testament and it didn’t stop with the apostles in the early church and is one of the great mistakes of protestantism to keep that belief alive today. If ever we need both the word and the Spirit,  it’s today. The Reformation in many circles has lost that. Photo from http://theresurgence.com

2. Or, take, let’s be honest- the Reformation’s entanglements. The greatest 2 corruptions of the Christian Church in 2000 years are with political power  and financial (economic) power. The Renaissance papacy showed both and the Reformation attacked both, rightly. But, we had our own political entanglements. Thank God for Frederick the Wise,  who helped Martin Luther. But, Martin Luther got into bed with Phillip of Hesse’s bigamy and even bypassed his bigamy and moral flagrant sins because he was supporting Luther. And you can see, flowing right down to the 19th century, many of the great protestant nations created great nationalistic religions and clearly, the political power was the ruler and the church was the tool. So, Christian American exploitations are not new.But, the Reformation has led to its own political entanglements, from which we’ve got to break free.

3. The Reformation’s ironies, unforseen consequences- We say rightly that ideas have consequences and they do, but, never simply and straightforwardly .   There are always good ideas, bad ideas, mixed ideas and ironies. The Reformation talked about restoring unity to Europe. And some reformed people are fighting and splitting ever since. The Reformation talked about restoring a ??supernaturality??. In some places they did, but they’ve also produced in certain places the most secular societies  the world has ever seen. They’re enormous ironies and we’ve got to face the heritage of the Reformation as paradoxical, so that we go in today with all that we try to do with a realism and humility. Nothing ever works out quite as we intend in a fallen world. (24:00)

4. Explore these secrets of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel. Getting more constructive and positive here. Why is the Gospel in the church, so powerful in culture? Well, of course you say, „It’s the Lord! The power of His Word, the power of His Spirit.” That’s true. But, what is it when the Gospel and the culture, the Word and the Spirit work in us? That makes even frail sinners like us, together powerful in culture?

There is a key principle that people have noticed. When the church is true to this, the church is truly culture shaping. The key principle goes back to our Lord’s call that we are to be ‘in the world, but not of the world’. In, but not of. Or, as Paul picks it up, „Be not conformed, but transformed, by the renewing of your minds.  And when that’s lived, it is called social dualism- a tension with culture that makes the church powerful in culture.

C.S. Lewis put it one way: He said there are many religions in the world which are world affirming. Say- Confucianism, or humanism. They are world affirming, they only have this world and their whole emphasis is on this world. Then you have other religions in the world that are world denying. Take Buddhism, described as a world gigantic NO human aspirations in all of history. But, Lewis pointed out, the Christian faith is unique. It’s both world affirming, and world denying. The world was created good, very good. And the church has gloried in all sorts of positive things, humanity above all. But, there’s also fasts as well as feasts, sacrifice as well as fulfillment, and denial and so on. And the Christian faith is uniquely both.

The secret of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel:

The social tension of being in, but not of the world

marks the church when it is most powerful.

city of God augustineBut, the deepest formulation of the social tension was St. Augustine’s, in his great book „The City of God’. And that is so important to us because he lived in a time rather like ours. You remember that the conversion of Rome was not actually in 312 A.D. The Christians were allowed and favored after 312 A.D. But, the real declaring of the Roman Empire Christian was 388 A.D., under Roman Emperor Theodosius. And from 388 A.D. onwards were called the Christian times. And believe it or not, they thought the emperor was the second King David. And that Rome would conquer the world and the church through Rome would conquer the world. That was the new understanding under that commission. So these were the Christian times, with the church now identified with Rome.

And St. Augustine said: No- in, but not of. He said, „There are two loves: Love of God and love of the self. And because of that, two humanities: To love God supremely and those who love themselves supremely. And because of that, two cities: The city of God, typified by Jerusalem and the city of man, typified by Rome, Babylon earlier. And Augustine’s point was that the city of God and the city of man are inexplicably entangled, intertwined. But ultimately, they are mutually exclusive. And when Christians live in the kingdom to the city of God- in, but not of- the are powerful. It was his breaking with those Christian times and putting the kingdom of God first, ‘in, but not of’, which lay the siege of the church that took us through the dark ages that were to come. (29:20)

That’s the key principle. But, there’s a key question. We can easily say ‘in, but not of’. ‘Not conformed, transformed’.  Against the world, for the world.  All sorts of nice, fancy formulations to roll off the tongue. Nice balance for the mind. But they don’t make any difference if we’re not living them. So, the key question to ask of the key principle: Is it any one moment in the church which is dominant? Is it the Word or is it the world? Is it the Spirit of God, or is it the spirit of the age? (30:00)

photo from pray-america-pray.org

Now, let’s be blunt. The church is America is numerically large, compared with Europe and many other parts of the modern world. But, it is culturally desperately weak. Because it’s weak and worldly. At point after point, after point, the church in America is shaped by the modern world. The world and not the church. That’s not my central point today (though).

The key test is conversion. Conversion should be the radical break that is the bridge between an old way of life and old culture, and a new way of life and a new culture. And when conversion is as radical as it’s supposed to be, that radical about turn of heart-mind-spirit lifestyle- everything, then the church leads on to a new way of life that’s shaped by the Word and not by the world. And so, you can always look at what conversion means at any moment by whether the church is likely to be worldly or not. That’s why I think the Insider Movement mission in Islam is so dangerous. Encouraging people to come to Christ and stay in the mosque. 31:50 It’s those who have broken with the mosque courageously, sometimes at the cost of their life. The faithfulness and the fruit afterwards are 100 fold different.

But, the same challenge comes to church in America. Look and say on the gay movement. Many of you are on the tail end of that. It started very early with Jimmy Carter’s election to the presidency. Chuck Colson’s conversion, his book ‘Born Again’.  But much of the ‘born again’ movement, looking back, you can see this whether you examine it sociologically or spiritually- has been a form of religious conformism to the American culture, and not a radical breakthrough into a new way of living that marks the kingdom of God. So, explore that with great depth. The secret of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel. It’s the social tension of being in, but not of the world which marks the church when it is most powerful. (33:00)

5. Count on the unique dynamics of the kingdom. I say this because the huge discussion that took place last year was half correct. It put in place a good understanding of the secular dynamics of how cultures are changed. You can read a book, for instance, like Randall Collins’ ‘The Sociology of Philosophies’ (800 pages). If you boil it down to the core of the points made, and they’re all good points, you can see how ideas shape culture and they’re easy to say. There are three principles:

  1. Through leaders, rather than followers
  2. Through the center of a culture, rather than periphery
  3. Through networks, rather than just through individuals or institutions

We as Christians and evangelicals have a lot to learn form that. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are much better at the first- they always go for leaders. Now, their danger always is falling over into elitism. And we, evangelicals, since the second awakening first was led by real leaders and intellectuals like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley and so on. The second awakening- the Cambridge Revival in Kentucky, you can see the populism, the suspicion of leaders, the resentment of discipline, the throwing off of hierarchy. Everybody wanted it all to be easy, instant and available to ordinary people. Since then we’ve relied on mass movements and we’ve been unable to change culture, one of the central weaknesses of the Christian right.

On the second point, too, we’ve got a lot to learn, although not you people here in New York. In other words, you change culture through the key cultural centers. Again, evangelicals have missed the boat here. It is often said, „Where are the Jewish people strong? New York, L.A., Chicago, which are the leading cultural centers of America. Where are Christians strong? Colorado Springs, Orlando, Wheaton. Thank God for what’s happened here in the last 20 years (New York), but this is rather different.

The third point we’re much better at. The networks, the disciples, the benedicting, the Moravians, the Wesley cell groups, the Clapper circle of Wilberforce, we’re better at that one. But, all those 3 together are only the secular ways of how ideas change culture.

The apostle Paul is aware of that. In his own way, he is always aiming (for example) for Rome. And he finally gets there. But, you can also see in the Scriptures, the unique dynamics of the kingdom which are different. And it’s not one or the other, it’s both and.

  1. The first dynamic of the kingdom is the leader: Is the Spirit. Take the book of Acts. How does the Gospel get to Africa? The Spirit tells Phillip to go to a certain crossroads and he meets the eunuch and it gets to Ethiopia. How does the Gospel get to Europe? Paul is sure the next place should be Bythinia in Asia minor and he cannot get in. Frustrated, the Spirit speaks to him and he goes from Troas to Philippi. One historian says that when that little rabbi (Paul)  crossed unknowing from Troas to Philippi, that was more history changing in one moment than the great battle of Actium which took place just 20 miles away. How did the Gospel get to the Gentiles? The Spirit speaks to Peter. In other words: Not vision, mission, all these grand things we have today. our strategic understandings of timelines and next steps, and all that. FOLLOW THE SPIRIT, AND THEN WE’LL REALLY MOVE.
  2. Another unique dynamic of the kingdom are surprising reversals. I love Luke 3;1 The day when the Emperor was Tiberius, and the Governor of Judea was Pontius Pilate, and the tetrarch of Galilee was Philip… rolls on like that into the high priests. And then it says, „The Word of the Lord came to John in the desert.” It bypassed all of them and went to a nobody. And of course, the whole teaching of our Lord: The first- last. The humble exalted. The high and mighty brought down. We’re in the upside down kingdom and we know that God always works through extraordinary reversals and surprising moves, if we’re open to him.
  3. The third principle you can see in the unique dynamics of the kingdom is that culture is usually almost always a by product. It’s not a goal, it’s not a name, it’s a byproduct. We do have some near exceptions, like William Wilberforce, who at 28 sets out his 2 great objects and for 47 years pursues them. But, as one historian says, „How extraordinary.” And remember that he died just 3 days after slavery was abolished. So, here’s his whole life work and at the end, just 3 days apart. And as one historian says, „How rare that anyone’s termination of their life  and determination of their labors exactly coincide? But, actually, many of the greatest influences in history have been unknown to the people that did it. They’ve been a byproduct. Culture most often is and our Lord’s view of the kingdom is organic, not organizational. It’s like a seed that grows surprisingly in the night. That notion of the organic invisible secret, unstoppable growth is at the heart of so many of them. And you can see today that we tend to ignore that in our organizational frenzied type world. T.S. Elliot said in the previous discussion- You don’t build a tree, you grow it. And the same is true of a great Christian culture. „Seek first the kingdom of God- living the way of Christ in the world today- and all these things are added to us. We don’t necessarily aim for those as the goal. We seek, we’re faithful in our lives, in our callings in whatever sphere of our society we are called to be in and we leave to God the results.

6. Think through some of the enduring lessons of Christian engagement with culture. It is clear that there is no one Christian culture. There is no golden age behind us. It’s ahead of us, when Christ comes. Every period in the past, however great had it’s flaws. But, there are certain lessons of the enduring relationships of the church with the culture.

  1. Success often carries the seeds of failure. I talked about the church at the time of Rome. If you think, ‘How extraordinary that the church would become identified critically with Rome, when Rome was alien”, what is less surprising, but in even greater capitulation, was when the church capitulated to its own culture: Christendom. And one writer at the time of Christendom says, „I started the story of two cities and now I am only writing about one city- the Christian city of Christendom. But that’s precisely why they lost this social tension and it’s not surprising that out of CHristendom came the greatest evils the church has ever produced in the world. Take the Inquisition. Take the wild slaughter of the Albigenians. Take the excesses of the crusades, in the name of Jesus. Many of the evils of Christendom we are still living down today. But, at the time of Christendom they lost the cultural tension, the social tension, „the in, not of”,  and so, they never criticized their own culture and the truth is that the moments of success are often carrying the seeds of our failure, cause we who succeed are sinners. And the one thing that very few of us can argue against, ever, is our own success. That convinces us. 
  2. The second of the enduring lessons sounds like a cliche but it does prove that the darkest hour is always before dawn. That is true of every revival. Five minutes before the SPirit speaks, things look terrible. Five minutes after the Word speaks, everything changes. Take Jefferson’s prediction that evangelicals will disappear and enlightenment would sweep America. Then came, within one year, the second awakening and Jefferson died a disappointed man. The same is true of the so called dark ages. We’re often blamed for the dark ages. „The church created the dark ages.” Nonsense. The Dark Ages were very dark. But, what carried through the light of civilizations of the Dark Ages was the Gospel and the Church. And even historians like H. G. Wells that Christianity „saved learning and saved civilization.” Christopher Dawson says, „Church was the ark of which it was saved through.”
  3. The third principle, also counterintuitive, is the church goes forward best, by going back first. That sounds crazy in a day of innovation. everything’s gotta be new. The newer, the truer, the greatest. No one wants to be left behind technologically. That’s all wrong for the church. Revival and reformation  are actually going back. The two greatest movements in the west, of ideas were the renaissance- largely pagan, and the Reformation. Both of them were movements that were going back. And the simple fact is, as you see in the Scriptures and as you see in history- the church of Jesus goes forward best, by going back first.

Karl Barth  described Martin Luther with this wonderful little picture. He said: Martin Luther was this man, groping his way up dark, steep steps of a medieval Cathedral to the top. Pitch black. Afraid of stumbling, he reached out, he found the stair rope in the circular stairs. He found the rope and pulled it to steady himself, and to his amazement heard a bell ringing above him, which woke up the whole countryside. It wasn’t the stair rope, it was the bell rope. In other words, Luther didn’t say, „REFORMATION. Mission, timeline”, and all that sort of stuff. Luther wrestled with God, wrestled with his conscience, wrestled with his times, wrestled with his church in his times and out of that great man’s grappling came what we call THE REFORMATION. I believe we go forward, each of you  with your faith in God, with your calling in the world- in the arts, in politics, in finance, whatever you’re in. Each of you, so wrestling with the Lord honestly, totally, and together, that the Lord knows what may fall out. Christopher Dawson says, „Is it possible to think that for a third time, the church might be revived in the West, having come to the end of the second time? Then he says, „Of course.” Every Christian would answer in the affirmative. But he says, „We mustn’t answer it too quickly and too easily because what’s at stake today is potentially the whole future, not just of the West, but of humanity.

Description for Redeemer church Youtube video:

As we discuss how the church can engage an increasingly post-Christian culture in the west, it is helpful to take a step back from our own times and historically examine how Christianity has dealt with cultures that seemed implacably opposed to it. Christianity was never expected to convert the Roman empire; nor was it expected to convert the barbarian tribes after Rome fell. Yet, it both cases it succeeded despite the odds. Similarly today, Christians must hold onto hope for a revival in the modern west.

This lecture was given as part of the Gospel & Culture Lecture series featuring Os Guinness. Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War Two where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England.

To view more resources, please visit http://www.faithandwork.org/resources.

Published on May 23, 2012 by – http://www.faithandwork.org/gospelculture

(5) Martyn Lloyd-Jones – On Schism (5th February 1961)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Read Part 1 here – a history

Read Part 2 here – 1962 Address by Lloyd-Jones

Read Part 3 here – An accounting from those who attended

Read Part 4 here – What the newspapers reported

 From Affinity.org.uk via Reformation 21 blog, Eryl Davies: This article attempts to summarize the main teaching and challenge of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the important subject of schism.

Schism in the writings of Lloyd-Jones

The 5th February 1961- One of his sermons based on Ephesians 6:10-13 dealt with the subject of schism. He maintained that churches eager to adhere believingly to Scripture faced a major problem: „How are we to draw the line between allowing heresy and apostasy on the one hand, and being guilty of schism on the other?”.1 Lloyd- Jones was clear concerning the answer and this can be expressed in the following way:

  1. Only Christians who are agreed on fundamental doctrines can be guilty of schism.
  2. Schism involves the division of Christians concerning non-essential or secondary matters.
  3. New Testament commands concerning unity and warnings about schism are addressed only to Christians, those who enjoy Gospel unity.
  4. Evangelicals have not taken these commands and warnings seriously enough and ecumenism has exposed this inconsistency.
  5. The New Testament requires a unity of churches, not merely individuals or movements; Evangelicals need to express their claim to unity in a meaningful way at church level.June 1963 – A major address based on Haggai 1 and given to the Westminster

Fraternal touched again on the present situation, the evangelical commitment to movements and the failure of this strategy. He then addressed key questions, namely, the nature and marks of the Church before discussing „the true nature of schism”.2 He does not discuss the latter subject in detail as his intention was „simply raising it as an issue”.3 Here are the main points:

The Protestant Reformers were not guilty of schism when they left the Church of Rome for they separated themselves from apostasy.
1 Corinthians „is the locus classicus with regard to this matter”. Schism is „division in the true visible Church about matters that are not sufficient to justify division and separation”, e.g. personalities, learning, observance o f days and meats, variations in spiritual gifts. The „sin of schism occurs when such people allow themselves to be divided from one another for inadequate causes and reasons”.4

„The trouble has been always that men have tended to approach schism in terms of the existing state of the churches instead of taking it right back to the New Testament conception of the Church and asking: Are we dividing that? We have allowed the opposition to govern our thinking on this question of schism, and…put ourselves into a false position. What I should ask myself is this … Am I guilty of dividing the truly spiritual New Testament Church?”5

June 1965 -Westminster Fellowship address from Psalm 74. „Two years ago”, Lloyd-Jones declared, „I tried to make a statement. I appealed for unity, a unity at the church level .. .I was convinced two years ago that many were not convinced of schism and so should be given the opportunity to be convicted…”.6 He asks: „Is there any hope of evangelical unity?…My conclusion is that there is no hope at all at the church level…because there is no agreement among Evangelicals…”.7

18th October 1966- NAE address in which Lloyd-Jones discusses schism after considering the nature of the Church. His view of the sin of schism is unchanged: „It is division among people who are agreed about the essentials and the centralities, but who separate over secondary and less important matters…that is the only definition ofschism which can claim to be Biblical…the only people…who are guilty of the sin of schism are Evangelicals”.8

July 1967- Westminster Fellowship address majoring on the unity to be sought on the part of those opposed to ecumenism. Here Lloyd-Jones warned of a danger because while Ecumenists go for minimum and ambiguous doctrinal content, Evangelicals „tend to become too precise…the opposite extreme…”.9 Major essential doctrines for him included the sole authority of Scripture in faith and practice, the Trinity, the devil and evil powers, the plan of redemption, the person and work of Christ, man in sin, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, justification by faith alone, sanctification. The non-essentials („not so important as to divide us”) included election, views on baptism, church policy, assurance,

prophecy and gifts. „We must not break fellowship”,10 he warned.
13th November 1968- An address by Lloyd-Jones to the BEC on What is the

Church?. 11 The uniqueness, spirituality and unity of the true Church „makes schism a terrible sin. It is not merely that you disagree with others: it is that you are dividing Christ, you are dividing a body, you are dividing a family. And so the apostle brings out his mighty powers of ridicule in 1 Corinthians 12…For brethren who are agreed about the essentials of the Gospel, and who are sharing the same life, to be divided by history, tradition, or any consideration, is the sin of schism, and it is a terrible sin”.12

4th November 1970- The Doctor’s theme at this BEC conference was Wrong divisions and True Unity13 and he distinguished between separation and schism. Again, he turned to 1 Corinthians and showed how the Corinthian Christians had a defective understanding of the Church and failed „to draw the line properly between” essentials and those matters which are „important but not essential”. 14 He nescribes the Corinthians as „standing and dividing on carnal matters”,15 „intellectualism”16 and „false spirituality”.17 Lloyd-Jones is adamant that the essentials „on which me must stand”18 include the Scriptures,19 the Fall,20 God’s plan of redemption21 and the Person of the Lord.22 On these doctrines we must stand „unflinchingly… even unto death, but be very careful about anything else you stand on, lest you become guilty of the sin of schism and offend a dear brother for whom Christ died. I f you think he is mistaken, patiently, quietly, prayerfully, try to instruct him and to help him. And as you value your own conscience and always try to obey it, remember that he has got a conscience also and you must not cause him to offend it. Let us love one another. Let us bear with one another but hold the centralities, the first things, boldly, courageously and unflinchingly, together”.23

Dr Eryl Davies is the Principal of the Evangelical Theological College of Wales

I have been in the ministry and trying to preach now for getting on for forty-four years. I have seen strange things in the life of the churches, but I have never known such confusion as prevails at the present time. Of course, those of us who belong to this Evangelical Council are not a bit surprised that there is confusion among people who are not evangelical. They cannot but be confused. Indeed they are not evangelical because they are confused. So that does not surprise us. But, even in that realm, the confusion is more and more confounded than I have ever known it.

But what should be of particular concern to us is that we have to confess, if we are honest, that there is some confusion amongst us. This is serious…

This is important because the greatest need in the world tonight is for a united evangelical message. It is the only hope for mankind. It is the only hope for the world and, in general, it is the only hope for the church. The people are confused, utterly confused. All their famous ‘nostrums’ fail to give them healing. All the prophecies of the false prophets have been falsified. They are all just disillusioned. That is the real meaning of this calamitous drug-taking and alcoholism. I believe the world is waiting for an authoritative statement. And it can only have it from those who take a scriptural view of the way of salvation-that is from evangelicals. That is why it is so urgently and vitally important that there should be no confusion amongst us but that we should speak with a united and a certain voice concerning these vital matters.

DM Lloyd-Jones, Wrong Divisions and True Unity, in Unity in Truth

Foundations 37 – Autumn 1996.tiff

http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/foundations/…/37_27.pdf

Have the prophecies in Revelation 17–18 about Babylon been fulfilled? Part 1 Andrew M. Woods

Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas Theological Seminary offers the PDF download for this article from Bibliotheca Sacra, here.  BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 169 (January–March 2012): 79–100

Andrew Woods writes on the Preterists contention that-

„the events in Revelation 4-22 were mostly fulfilled in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. They believe that the book of Revela- tion was penned in the mid 60s and predicts God’s judgment in AD 70 on national Israel because of her rejection of Christ”. 

Preterists believe that the harlot in Revelation 17–18 represents first-century Jerusalem and that the beast represents first- century Rome. Thus the beast’s destruction of the harlot (17:16–17) represents Rome’s sacking of Jerusalem in the events surrounding AD 70. Gentry states, “I am convinced beyond any doubt that this Harlot is first-century Jerusalem.”2 Hanegraaff similarly explains, “What has puzzled me over the years is not the identity of ‘the great prostitute,’ but how so many could mistake her historical identity. . . . In biblical history only one nation is inextricably linked to the moniker ‘harlot.’ And that nation is Israel!” (Kenneth L. Gentry, “A Preterist View of Revelation,” in Four Views on the Book of Revelation) 

He concludes that – neither Rome’s alliance with Israel, Rome’s revival, or Rome’s seven hills argue convincingly that a relationship between Jerusalem and Rome in AD 66–70 is portrayed in Revela- tion 17:3b, 8–9, 11. Thus neither the prophetic information regard- ing Babylon’s harlotry nor her alliance with the beast is sufficient to equate the Babylonian harlot with first-century Jerusalem. 

Click here to read the entire article.

Quo vadis?

Quo Vadis?

O poveste cutremuratoare despre puterea care este invinsa de credinta, despre credinta care aduce dragostea si despre dragostea care a schimbat Roma din timpul lui Nero.
Ofiterul roman Marcus Vinicius, care tocmai se intorsese dintr-un razboi din Asia Minor, ajunge acasa la unchiul sau Petronius, prieten al imparatului Nero, un estet si iubitor de arta. Vinicius ii destainuie lui Petronius ca s-a indragostit de o fata frumoasa si misterioasa, pe nume Ligia, pe care a intâlnit-o in casa generalului Aulus Plaucius. Dorind sa-l ajute pe tânar, Petronius ii propune sa-i faca o vizita lui Plaucius. Acolo, Petronius realizeaza ca Vinicius are dreptate; el decide sa-l ajute pe nepotul sau. Vinicius si Ligia se intâlnesc in gradina, unde fata deseneaza un peste pe nisip.

Mai mult

Film -The Radicals- The first Anabaptists: Michael and Margaretha Sattler (1525)

You can read more about Michael Sattler’s contribution to the Baptist faith here ‘I Wait upon my God’ 16 page pdf written by Ched Spellman for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The year is 1525. Michael and Margaretha Sattler have fled their religious orders. Their quest: restore the church to the purity of its early days when communities of believers practiced peace, compassion and sacrificial love.

The Sattlers join a group called the Anabaptists and together challenge the 1000 year control of the Church by the State. They call for baptism to once again become, not a mark of State citizenship, but an adult and voluntary decision to follow Christ. As their movement grows, so does the determination of their enemies to stop them…by any means necessary.

In 1527, Michael is burned at he stake (after his tongue is cut out) and Margaretha drowned. But their movement survives and today is carried on by the Mennonites, Brethren, Brethren in Christ, the Hutterites, and the Amish.

This being a film about persecution, it does depict some violence that is not suitable for young children. (The last 5 minutes are also missing, due to technical difficulties. I apologize for that)

In 16th Century Europe there arose a group of people who acknowledged no authority but God’s. They were hunted like outlaws by both Protestants and Catholics. They were forced to meet in caves and forest glens. Many were burned at the stake or drowned. Their persecution lasted for over 200 years until they were nearly annihilated.

These people separated from the governments of the world and imitated Christ in everything. They refused the State’s protection saying, “If we accept a prince’s sword, we accept his authority. Christ is our only authority.”

They were a Church standing alone, without prince, sword, or money to protect them. “We have only one Lord, Christ Jesus, and that is all we need,” they said.

This peculiar people first alarmed local officials by baptizing adults and refusing to baptize infants. This gave them the name of Radicals or Anabaptists. At that time, infant baptism was viewed as a mark of citizenship. Baptizing newborns was the system’s way to register and track its citizens. Baptism was the equivalent of a birth certificate today.

Anabaptists committed ultimate treason by being baptized as adults. By being baptized again, they were renouncing their former citizenship. Adult baptism symbolized their breaking away from the old system and their joining with God’s kingdom.

Ever since Constantine, Church and State have been intertwined. Even the early Protestant movements sought the protection of their princes. But the Anabaptists refused such ties with the State and offered the world a new vision of Christ’s Kingdom, separated from the world.

“We must stand apart from the rest of the world. Anyone who joins Christ’s kingdom must separate from the world. It takes only one bad thread to ruin the whole fabric. If we allow the fabric of this world to be woven into Christ’s Church, then the Church is corrupted,” they said.

As these Radicals first began coming out of the corrupt Roman Catholic system, they could not concur on what they believed. Finally, at a secret meeting they agreed on these four articles:

1) Repentant adult sinners are to be voluntarily baptized to take them out of the old system and into the Kingdom of God.
2) No oaths of any kind are to be sworn.
3) The sword is rejected because it is outside the perfection of Christ.
4) There shall be a separation between the good and the evil, the believing and unbelieving, light and darkness, and the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdoms of the world. And none shall have part with the other.

some Church history…Jesus and the first century historian Titus Flavius Josephus

A Roman portrait bust said to be of Josephus. (Wikipedia)

Josephus (37 – c.100 AD/CE), also Yoseph Ben Mattithyahu in Biblical Hebrew (Joseph son of Matthias) and Titus Flavius Josephus was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded 1st century Jewish history, such as the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He has been credited by many as recording some of the earliest history of Jesus Christ outside of the gospels, this being an item of contention among historians.

Josephus was a law-observant Jew who believed in the compatibility of Judaism and Graeco-Roman thought, commonly referred to as Hellenistic Judaism. His most important works were The Jewish War (c. 75 AD/CE) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 AD/CE). The Jewish War recounts the Jewish revolt against Roman occupation (66–70). Antiquities of the Jews recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective for a Roman audience. These works provide valuable insight into 1st century Judaism and the background of Early Christianity. (source)

The earliest description of Jesus outside of the Gospels is found in Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities. Yet for centuries scholars have doubted that a Jewish writer could have written an account that contains basic tenets of Christian belief. This conflict is resolved by understanding the source of Josephus’ composition

There are no surviving Roman records of the First Century that refer to, nor are there any Jewish records that support the accounts in the Christian gospels – except one.      In Rome, in the year 93, Josephus published his lengthy history of the Jews. While discussing the period in which the Jews of Judaea were governed by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate, Josephus included the following account:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

– Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
(Based on the translation of Louis H. Feldman, The Loeb Classical Library.)

To read more on Josephus Flavius visit Josephus.org.

The Works of Josephus

The Galilee, site of Josephus' governorship, in late antiquity.(source Wikipedia)The Jewish War (460 KB)

Antiquities of the Jews (1,030 KB)
The Life (60 KB)
Against Apion (90 KB)

The Works of Josephus
The Whiston translation online (external link).

The Works of Josephus in Greek
The Greek text of B. Niese at the Perseus Project.

Brill Translations with Commentary

Here are 4 short videos regarding Josephus’ first century writings and references to Jesus:

Donald A. Hagner, George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Senior Professor of New Testament,School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary:

Doubts about Jesus and the New Testament from CPX on Vimeo.

Professor John Barclay was appointed Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University in 2003, succeeding Professor James Dunn. He is a prolific New Testament scholar who has been widely published in journals and books. He has special expertise on the apostle Paul and Second Temple Judaism. His publications include Obeying the Truth (1986), Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora (1996), a guide on Colossians and Philemon (1997), and a commentary on Josephus’ Against Apion (2000).

He is currently engaged in writing a book on Paul’s understanding of grace. A gifted and popular speaker, Professor Barclay brings great historical and theological insight into how divine grace transformed the first-century world.

Josephus: the man and the myths. Part I from CPX on Vimeo.

Part II

Josephus: the man and the myths. Part II from CPX on Vimeo.

Jesus and Josephus, a forgery? Dr Chris Forbes is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, and Deputy Chairman of the Society for the Study of Early Christianity. His fields of research and teaching focus on New Testament history, Alexander the Great and Hellenistic history, Graeco-Roman History of Ideas and the intersection of early Christianity and Graeco-Roman culture. His current research is in the field of the relationship between religion and philosophy in Graeco-Roman thought. Dr. Forbes teaches at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia where he is senior lecturer since 2001. He is also a member of the Society for Biblical Literature and the Tyndale Fellowship.

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