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I read in an educational article this week that statistics are booming for school students who are reporting feelings of severe anxiety. They are complaining to their teachers of headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, or simply stare at a blank page or act out. The root cause of this is fearfulness and anxiety, which makes […]

via Pray First! — The Artistic Christian

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Whether or not you believe Jesus Christ was who he said he was, you cannot deny the fact that he was. Without going into C.S. Lewis’ “liar, lunatic, or Lord” illustration, the one thing that you cannot deny is that there is evidence that a man named Jesus lived and existed around the time that modern Christians believe he did, that he was killed by crucifixion, and had followers. While a person can claim that there isn’t evidence for the existence of something (though in the case of Jesus there is definitely evidence) you cannot claim that something did not exist with any certainty.

One of the first things you must understand when researching anything from historical documents as old as the Bible is that there are cultural and linguistic differences that may need to be accounted for. I will attempt to explain those where necessary, and provide further links to the information.

The Census

The argument I saw most recently against the existence of Jesus was “there is no record of a census being taken around Jesus’ birth!”. This article gives a detailed answer, but the short answer is: Yes, there was a census. It appears that there were likely multiple censuses (censi?) that were taken throughout the land at varying times. There are papyrus scrolls referencing a Roman census taken in Egypt also. Another part of the complaint of these “history deniers” is the existence of a particular governor, Quirinus. The objection seems to have to do with the timing of when he served as governor, but some evidence shows that the man may have served twice, allowing for him to fit into the timeline in accordance with Luke’s detailed account. Some have suggested that Luke was attempting to make a distinction between the census we know Quirinius took in AD 6 from the census that Mary and Joseph were participating in. (Read the article for more detail).

Accuracy of Names, Titles, Locations

Next, a look to the validity of the timing of the scriptures. Gallio (proconsul of Achaea, Acts 18:12-17) and Lysanias (tetrarch of Abilene, Luke 3) are both mentioned and their timing questioned, that is until inscriptions were found at Delphi and Abilene (respectively) that tie them together.

In Acts 19:22, Erastus is named as a Corinthian who becomes a coworker of Paul. When Corinth was excavated, an inscription was found near the theatre and read “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid the pavement at his own expense.” They could easily be the same man, and it would explain why a wealthy citizen who converted was mentioned. Luke also gives the correct titles for several other officials.

Confirmation by Secular Historians

The next argument presented is that there were no “contemporary sources” that confirmed the existence of Jesus, which is flat out false.

The Gospel accounts were written within 40 years of Jesus’ death by eyewitnesses and by people who knew the eyewitnesses. Paul, for example, records meeting Peter (the disciple) in the book of Galatians. He also was known as a persecutor of the Jews; why would he need to persecute people who followed someone who did not exist? More importantly, if Jesus’ resurrection was made up, why would people willingly die for something they knew to be a lie? Since the accounts of the eyewitnesses (and others) are demonstrably historically accurate, and the mention of individuals correct, we have little reason to doubt the existence of Jesus. (Look here for links and info on historians — most of whom reject the theory that Jesus was a myth.)

Tacitus was a Roman historian (AD 55-120). He made at least three references to Christ. In the first he explains how Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that burned Rome:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reighn of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. […] Covered with the skins of beasts, they were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illimation, when daylight had expired. (Ibid, p. 51)

Note that it mentions Christians (why would they exist if not for Christ?), references the basic points of Christ’s death, and the superstition Tacitus mentions is likely to be that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead.

Christ is also mentioned by a Roman Satirist named Lucian, the chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian who was called Suetonius, and a Jewish historian named Josephus. All of these historians present the death of Christ and the belief that he rose from the dead as a belief followed by Christians, nothing more or less. They do not attempt to refute it — after all, if a body had been found, would it not be mentioned? (They also do not state that the man did not exist or that his followers did not.) Particularly since the Christian believers were such a large number that they were mentioned by historians, satirists, and secretaries — it is likely that the refutation of the belief that had caused such difficulty for the Romans would have been proclaimed loudly.

Though the Gnostic gospels are not books that should be relied upon as accurate sources of information about Jesus’, his life, or his theology, they do help us to understand history in light of the Gospels. These Gnostic gospels were written primarily by men who pretended to be biblical apostles, and they agree that Jesus existed, though they felt the need to build and modify the story to suit their needs (indicating that He wasn’t simply a myth they could ignore).

In addition to the written evidence, there are inscriptions after the time of Jesus resurrection declaring unusually harsh punishments for disturbing graves. It is suggested that this may have been in response to the claim of Jesus’ resurrection. The method of Christ’s death is also verified by ancient burial sites in Jerusalem where the bodies of crucified men were found and the injuries consistent with the description found in the Gospels.

Massacre of the Innocents

It seems that this is one event that there is limited evidence for (though that, in itself, does not prove the non-existence of Jesus or that the Gospels were faked). Josephus mentions other atrocities of Herod, particularly his violent ones, but not this one. Some have argued that the murder of his two sons may have set such fear in the people that they believed he would kill their children as well. Others believe that a decree was issued, but then retracted and never carried out. Historian Raymond Brown (and others) argue that, based on Bethlehem’s estimated population of 1,000 at the time, the largest number of infants that could have been killed would have been about twenty,[15][16] and R. T. France, addressing the story’s absence in Antiquities of the Jews, argues that “the murder of a few infants in a small village [is] not on a scale to match the more spectacular assassinations recorded by Josephus”.[17] Here is another article referencing the possibility of this event. Let it be known that the absence of one (potentially small, comparatively) event, does not disprove the entirety of Christ’s existence.

Note: Much of the information used here was taken from Norman Geisler’s book When Skeptics Ask. It is an excellent source of answers to questions that people often have, and provides many footnotes and references to support the answers given. (Chapter 9 alone has 22 footnotes!) Please check this book out from your library or order on Amazon.

 

Abominations

Recently someone posted an image on Facebook that was entirely inaccurate, in more than one way. The image claimed firstly that the Old Testament of the Bible is in Greek originally (it is not, it is in Hebrew!) and secondly claimed that the verse in Leviticus where it says “man shall not lie with man as he does with woman” uses the word for “little boy” as the second instance of man. The two words are different words in Hebrew, but the second word is used to mean male. That means any male. The poster was trying to argue that homosexuality was acceptable in the Bible and that there was nothing against it. What our conversation finally came down to was the fact that this person did not like that someone thought their actions (and the actions of those they loved) were sinful and worthy of punishment. Let me state here that all sin separates us from God, in His eyes there is no sin that causes more or less separation from Him than another; however, there are some sins which God will punish more harshly than another. Only He knows what will happen on the day when we die and go to meet Him.

 

During the course of our conversation, this article was shared. It was appalling and inaccurate, so I determined to set the record straight. I spent more than an hour researching and trying to do justice to the questions the woman had posed. I did not thoroughly read the article (mostly because it started with insults and lacked journalistic integrity), but I skipped to the verses they took issue with and found the answers o the questions they had. Below is my response. I did not quite every passage or give the reference, you will have to see the articles to find the references specifically.

 

http://www.pensitoreview.com/2007/02/07/abominations-you-could-be-committing-one-now/comment-page-2/#comment-1263465

 

This article is incorrect. The things that are listed as an abomination are things like rape, adultery, homosexuality, the creation of idols, dishonest business practices, cross dressing, divination, etc. (Most of those should at least make sense…) The verse in Deuteronomy 14 about what animals you should eat does not say that the pig is an abomination, it says it is unclean, which is an entirely different Hebrew word than the one translated as abomination.
The verse about not eating shellfish is again a separate word from “abomination”, This word is only used in relation to foods that they were not to eat. It is also translated as “detestable” or “unclean.”

 

Please realize that there are particular portions of instruction that were meant for the time of the Israelite’s wilderness wanderings and not later. Even after Jesus’ arrival and the declaration that the old law (and much of the food laws) had been done away with, many Jews still chose to practice the traditions. They also tried to force the Gentile believers to follow these laws, even though Gentiles were not required to follow them (according to the New Testament).

 

The Exodus verse about being put to death for working on the Sabbath has nothing to do with “abominations”. In this case, God had granted the people a day to rest and this day was to be holy and consecrated to the Lord (as holy as any other thing that was devoted to the Lord). Violating that holiness was essentially like spitting in God’s face. The reason why we stopped putting sabbathbreakers to death I can’t tell you, but it seems to be generally agreed upon that people who break the Sabbath by working on it will be judged in the next life. Not all consequences or punishment are immediate. Another general principle people seem to disregard is the intent of the command and the intent of the law. The Sabbath was made for man, as a day of rest; man was not made for the Sabbath. It was the Pharisees and religious leaders who added all of the extra “rules” about the Sabbath, which Jesus broke (to an extent). He told a man to pick up his mat (something the Jews considered work) and at another time his disciples picked individual grains to eat. The command for rest on the sabbath does not mean that we cannot do anything, but that we should not be laboring on the Sabbath. This is why picking up your food or serving a meal on the sabbath would have been acceptable, but gathering the wheat and threshing it etc. would not have been.

 

The Isaiah verse is out of context, it is not the incense itself that is abominable, it is the double standard of those who practice wickedness yet come to offer God incense as a ritual, with hearts that are far from him. When we read to understand something we must also read to understand the culture, the linguistic connotations, and the context of the passage.

 

Finally, the Revelation verse. The Greek word that is here translated as “abomination” is only used 6 times in the New Testament (as compared to the 120+ times the OT word was used). The outline of BIblical usage seems to refer mainly to idolatry. Two verses refer to “the abomination of desolation” (thought to refer to a person or force that would destroy Jerusalem). In Luke it states that “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Revelation talks of a “cup full of abominations” and a woman who is the “mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” What exactly these last two mean is uncertain to me, perhaps it is a metaphor for being filled with detestable things that you propagate.  The final verse of Revelation, 21:27, is often not quoted to the end: “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Nobody who has committed abominable acts will enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless the blood of Christ has been applied to cover the debt for their sin. That means that anyone who has accepted Christ’s gift of salvation is clean. If the worst person in the world were to ask Jesus for forgiveness on their deathbed He would be forgiven and enter Heaven right alongside the sweetest saints.

 

My initial concern was with the inaccuracy of the image, but it seems that your main argument is either personal, trying to justify the actions of others that the Bible considers wrong, or mislead, thinking that Christians don’t know that they have sinned. We all do bad stuff, I am just as guilty of sin as anybody else, from Hitler to Mother Theresa. Jesus died for that sin; yours, mine, and everyone’s, because any sin at all would keep us from His presence and from enjoying heaven.

 

Part 1 – The redefinition of words to create something else to control and be offended by.

Feminist. You probably have strong feelings when you hear/read this word. What image comes to mind when you think about a feminist? Chances are, this word conjures up either the image of a social justice warrior, fighting to defend the rights of the oppressed women of America, or a fat and ugly free-bleeder who eats men for breakfast. Whatever your opinion in this, I want you to know two things:

  1. I support women’s rights to equality (not that women are the same as men, but should have equal opportunities.)
  2. I do not call myself a feminist.

feminazis

The Redefining of Words

There are many reasons why I do not call myself a feminist, but one that has been on my mind recently (and is fairly easy to address) is that modern feminism relies strongly on the redefining of words and manipulation to encourage young women to view all their problems as a result of oppression and misogyny and not due to any other factors.

Some words that have been modified recently:

  • Friendzoned – I do not know who decided that this word was somehow an attack on women, but it is not. The word itself simply describes when a person (typically a man) has invested time/money/emotion into a girl and has discovered that the girl is only interested in friendship. It is my personal opinion that women tend to invest more in relationships with men that they do not intend to become romantic (“just friends”) than men tend to. A girl might simply think that the guy who stays up late texting her, goes to the mall with her, listens to her cry, and buys her snacks, is just doing what any other friend would do. In my experience, guys do not tend to do things like this for a girl unless they are at least mildly interested in her, and if they start out that way, they will at some time be interested in a relationship, even if he never admits it. Girls, on the other hand, tend to like to talk and can be very comfortable investing time and energy into a friendship with a boy they have no intention of having a romantic relationship with. There is nothing wrong with these tendencies. Girls should try to be more considerate and realize that they may, in fact, be unintentionally signaling to a guy that they are interested when thay are not.

  Somehow, modern feminists have come to the conclusion that a guy saying he was “freindzoned” means that somehow the woman owes him something. What? No. Just no. The concept of wooing a woman may be foreign to Americans, but the idea is that you spend time with someone and do nice things for them in an attempt to get them to like you, not to say that they owe you anything! If you are reading this and thinking “Well, I had this one guy who was like, you need to sleep with me because I was there for you when you were sad!” etc. then that speaks VOLUMES to the type of man that YOU choose to spend time with. I have placed several interested men in the friend category (some without realizing they were interested) and not once have I had someone act as though they owed me anything. Could it be that they were upstanding and respectable guys? No! Never! Men are pigs! But really, if this happens to you, it might be that you lead them on (perhaps unintentionally) or that you make terrible friendship choices.

  • Slut – I saw this one described the other day as “attacking a woman for her right to say yes.” *blinkblink* Just because you have a right to say yes does not mean you aren’t a terrible person for saying yes to every guy who asks. Generally the term is used to describe women (and sometimes men) who are easy (as in, have had sexual interactions with multiple non-serious partners, willing to kiss any guy, etc.) OR who dress to show off far more skin on a regular basis than is generally considered socially acceptable. We live in a society where telling someone that they are wrong is taboo, and heaven forbid a young person ever have to feel shame for their actions.

    It’s like that Kaepernick guy; he has a right to sit for the anthem, but I also have a right to say he’s a dingbat for doing so.

  • Bossy – There is actually a campaign to ban the word bossy. Really. The website for this campaign says “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.” Bull. Crap. I taught middle school and I have not experienced this phenomenon, it is quite the opposite, in reality. When leaving notes to substitutes, or appointing leaders in my classroom, I usually have to make sure that I have at least one boy on the list, because there is an abundance of girls who are able and willing to lead. I can think of maybe 7 or 8 boys (our of 180 students) who would volunteer to lead or do something. Usually only one in each class.

 The word bossy is defined as: “inclined to domineer (dictatorial), liking to order people around.” A LEADER does not simply tell people what to do; a leader leads by example, encourages and inspires those around them to follow their example, and generally takes the initiative to do something about a problem. A bossy person simply tells people what they should do, “We should play THIS game!” or “No, no, no! When I make my doll say this, you’re supposed to say…” or “Give me some of your candy.” Now, I know that this word is most often applied to girls and I am not entirely sure why, but here are some similar words boys get called: insolent, pushy, arrogant, domineering, aggressive, controlling, cocky, cocksure, high-and-mighty, patronizing, pretentious, pompous, and pig-headed. The connotation of the word bossy indicates that the person thinks they are smarter or they know better than others, and want everyone to do as they say. For a boy, in a world where girls tend to outshine them in the classroom from an early age, putting forth the effort to speak up and risk embarrassment takes a lot of courage. A student who leads and says, “I think this would be a good way to do X” is using their skills and trying to do the best they can, whereas a kid saying “No, we have to do it this way!” is bossy. There is a distinction. Banning the word “bossy” is not going to help a little girl’s self-esteem.

Do you know what would help women boost their self-esteem? If girls’ magazines were not strictly geared to looks, getting boyfriends, and being sexy/sexual. Instead, why not fill magazines with things like: how to be a good friend, how to dress in ways that flatter your body type, how to succeed in male-dominated careers (or tips on careers that might be difficult for women due to physical limitations), health care tips, what colors complement your skin tone, manners, easy and healthy recipes, tips on job interviews, crafts, tips for young mothers, how to be a good wife, how to spot a man who might not be good for you, quick/easy household organization tips, etc. As a youngun, I LOVED the American Girl magazine. It was great! There were stories, crafts, paper dolls, tips on manners and advice on how to handle tough situations. It was a wonderful resource; they also published tip books, stories about courageous girls (Felicity was my favorite), and had dolls for sale. Unfortunately, few magazines these days are like this.

Instead of redefining words, why not redefine our culture? How about we teach women to respect themselves; that they don’t have to wear five pounds of makeup, have sex, or show off their bodies to be beautiful. Or that it’s ok to say NO to a guy who is interested, and that not having a boyfriend at age 13 does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Or that just because you are waiting for marriage to have sex it does not make you a prude. Maybe we should honor those women who choose to be a stay-at-home-mom or housewife as much as we honor and respect those who choose to pursue a career. Perhaps we should stop insulting women who actually enjoy domestic activities like cooking, and at the same time encourage/empower those who are not great at those domestic activities so that they know they don’t have to be, and know that they have help if they want to learn.

When I was in middle school I was bullied badly. I was chubby, I was (and am) a Christian and did not do some of the things other kids did, I liked reading and nerdy things like Star Trek, and I did not dress like everyone else (partly because I could not afford it, partly because I was modest and not so interested in what was fashionable). I was made fun of for not having a boyfriend; kids would tease me and try to ask me who I liked, or who I would go out with. If my response was “I don’t know him” I was told “You get to know him, that’s what having a boyfriend is for.” I was called fat and ugly, and lost “friends” because I didn’t dress popularly. I even lost friends because I chose not to lie to my parents: I went to a friend’s house and she wanted to watch the movie Stigmata, something I knew I would not have been allowed to watch, but I also did not want to watch it anyway (still don’t). “Your parents won’t know” was the only response my friend gave to my objections. Our friendship pretty much ended that day. In college I was occasionally called a prude, mostly by guys who I was friends with where there was mutual interest, but not the compatibility necessary to justify starting a relationship. Just because two people are attracted to each other does not mean you MUST date, or that you would be good long-term, or that you need to make out. In the long run, I think I have gained respect because I did not have dozens of boyfriends (went on a few dates, though only one lead to a relationship), did not dress immodestly, and held to my standards. Have I made mistakes? You betcha. Many things I wish that I had not done, or had done differently. Did I sometimes compromise? A few times, and I regret it completely.

Changing the mindset of Americans will do far more for young girls than it will to change the words that we use to describe the mindset. The Bible definitely got it right: Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Changing the words we use will not change the hearts of the people that use them.

Check out this article on 8 Ways Fascist Feminists are Ruining America’s Women.

While I may not necessarily agree with everything any political candidate believes, I think we can all agree that Donald Trump crosses the line when he makes up nicknames for opponents that are not true (and Trump is not entirely honest himself). I agree with this image in that I think that Ted Cruz has defended his beliefs and stood up for his convictions with tenacity, and that is something that is laudable. When he says he wants to do something, it’s not just “an opening bid” or up for negotiation with the highest bidder, he truly believes what he stands for. I have not yet decided who I will cast my vote for in the upcoming election, but a man who is honest and defends what he believes in (despite the opposition) gets far more points in my mind than someone who defends their beliefs by tearing their opponents down.

 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” -Galations 6:7

My soul is so tired and weary of dealing with the God-mockers and the lukewarm. Those who claim the name of Christ yet act in as many ways unlike Christ as they possibly can. The people who aren’t simply making an human error, but are perpetuating a lifestyle of sin and essentially spitting on the throne of grace. People who claim Jesus as “ok with it”, but forget that he told the adulteress to “go and sin no more”. Those who talk about Christ’s forgiveness, but forget that he turned the tables on the merchants in the temple. People who say “don’t judge, or you will be judged” but forget that Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

The same Jesus who said “love your neighbor as yourself” is also the one who said “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Referring to teachers who led children astray.)

The same Jesus who forgave the prostitute, healed the lame, and said that we were to forgive repentant brothers seventy times seven times also said “be holy, as I am holy.”

Jesus never excused sin, never allowed for sin, or encouraged it. He forgave the sins of the repentant and gave them a way out! Of course, that is not enough for those who want to live sinfully without the fear of guilt or judgment. Someone once said that if an act (a sin) was excusable, then it didn’t need forgiveness! A sinful behavior might be explainable, understandable, or even anticipated, but it is unacceptable: sin is sin, and we must strive for perfection through the help of the Holy Spirit. What we’re saying when we intentionally sin and sin habitually is that God’s grace and mercy are worthless and that He is unworthy of our praise and respect. If you claim to follow the God of the universe, do not be surprised when something is expected of you, or when your sins are revealed. My God will not be mocked.

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” – Hebrews 10:28-30

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” -2 Peter 2

So true!

Tales from the Mommy Trenches

It happened again today. I was reading something on the internet with a glaring grammar mistake. I cringed and fought the urge to email the site administrator to inform him or her of the error.

Hello, my name is Sylvia and I am a compulsive English language corrector. I can’t help it. I read someone’s blog post that I find intriguing and I will stop reading immediately if I see that he or she does not understand the definition of a certain word. I understand that this is rigid and unforgiving of me in the extreme. Sometimes I feel like I might explode, so I am using this blog post as a therapeutic space. Maybe I will even get to the point where I can blithely read things without paying any heed to the mistakes I might read. Or at least stop blurting out corrections. Bear with me.

1) Firstly…

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