Saturday, March 31, 2007

Squirrel Deliverance

(It's the weekend, so...)

There weren't a lot of squirrels around when I was growing up, so we were pretty delighted when we got to see them on trips to the mountains. We were those crazy tourists you might have seen feeding the squirrels and squealing with glee.

But not anymore.

Where I now live, squirrels don't just carry plague, they are the plague. They're marauding bands of disease carrying criminals that steal our blackberries and strawberries, and the seed we've put out to attract more desirable fawna, like yellow gold finches, bluebirds and nuthatches. We want those around--but not squirrels. Running out the door, yelling and waving our hands doesn't do much, either, except entertain our neighbors.

But this does. I NEED one of these. Have a look.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Obedience For Dogs & Me

My daughter has a Nintendo DS. Yes, my wife and I actually chose to give it to her for Christmas. What evil thing does that say about us?! Hmm…

Anyway, she has this game where she gets and trains puppies, raising them from puppiness through adultness. To do it, she gives them behavioral commands like “Lie down!” and “Sit!” and “Roll over!” Sometimes the Nintendo dogs obey, and sometimes they don’t, which provokes my daughter to say it again—a little more strongly. It’s funny because not only does she speak with clarity and deep authority (well, at least it sounds pretty convincing for a girl her age), but our own dog, sitting next to her, carries out the commands. Well, some of the commands.

And I wondered, “If my daughter said those commands with an encouraging tone, a really upbeat inflection, would the dogs follow through and obey more readily or less?” And that got me thinking.

What if I thought of God’s commands to me as wonderful, life-securing and encouraging orders, instead of grumpy and foreboding demands? I mean, I know God is always correct and spot-on in His assessment of everything, so why does my fleshly mind attach a doom and gloom tone to His directions? Does the Spirit talk to me in the same manner as He would to, say, Pharaoh? Jezebel? Nebuchadnezzar? Or, how about the devil? Same?

If I was hanging out with Pharaoh one day and God showed up with something to say, would His commands to me sound the same as those to Pharaoh? Of course, I suppose we’d have to make certain exceptions for content. “Pharaoh, you brutal subjugator of my people, take out the trash...and then go to Sheol.” And, turning to me, “Ralph, you greatly favored, heaven-bound son of mine, take out the trash.” Would it all sound the same?

I don’t think so.

There are those who think obedience is the most important part of the Christian life—I’m not one of them. I think believing God is first. And while the obedience-is-king crowd might say, “Well, of course believing is first,” I don’t think they really mean it, especially because they often come across as stern and dour, obedience monitors among us. They major in it, and we’ve noticed.

I think the reason many of us fail to obey the New Testament oriented commands of God is because we think they come to us from a sort of high school principal—Do this, Ralph, and you won’t get into trouble. So, the only thing I believe at that moment is, “Well, I’d better do it, or I’ll get detention.” See what I mean? My belief is in avoiding the consequences of disobeying authority, not in the brilliance and well-intentioned motives of the trustworthy principal. Sounds like a dog’s life. To be certain, obedience is a vital, indispensable part of Christian life, but why we obey is, I believe, even more important.

So, today I’m doing what God says to do because it’s coming from my Father, who is perfect in love, perfect in knowledge and grace, and perfect in how He sees and treats me. I have a pretty good idea of what He did for me and to me through Christ, and I have a decent idea of what He thinks of me. It’s pretty fantastic.

He’s amazing, and He’s amazing toward me—I believe that, and I believe Him. Obedience comes from there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bible History Quiz--The Answer

The first man to walk on water was Jesus.

The second man to walk on water was the apostle Peter.

And who was the third? Just discovered by our trivia bureau, the third person was Tamil.

Look at him go.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Worry-Warts & Radar

(Before reading this blog, you should know that my family and I speak of the Biblical term flesh as the monster, and believe it is not us, but something in us. We’ve been born again and made new creations, sons of God. Sometimes the flesh has us and influences us, but it is not us.)

My daughter worries, and she’s figured it out. It’s like she’s got radar—not Gary Burghoff, Radar—but a radar system that regularly alerts her for something being wrong with someone around her or with herself. And it goes off a lot.

Recently she said, “Daddy, I’m a worry-wart,” and here’s what I thought: “You know, she is. She’s always got something negative to be concerned about, always some wrong or some bad that gets her attention. What a worry-wart. I should tell her to trust God…” As I prepared to blurt out a confirmation (you are a worry-wart) followed by a healthy prescription (trust God), I nevertheless took the briefest of pauses, hesitating ever so slightly to see if the Spirit might interject something. Low and behold, He did.

She’s no worry-wart. She is often plagued by it, but it’s not her; it’s something against her.

Shocked into the reality I cannot see, I said, “Emma, my girl, do you think that worry comes from you, or does it come at you?” Because I wanted her to think and, in so doing, sow to the Spirit, I said no more. She answered, “It comes from the monster. It comes from my flesh—but I’m not flesh. Then, Daddy, why do I worry so much?”

“Well,” I replied, “it isn’t your fault. Our monsters are really monstrous, aren’t they? Everybody’s is. But what you and I get to see is God in us, smacking the monster for us. Remember how to think or talk toward Him when you feel all that fight going on inside? It’s fun to find Him in there, isn’t it?” Pulling her onto my lap, I said, “Come on. Let’s find Him inside together.” She wiggled her little body into a comfortable spot, and I prayed, “Jesus, Emma and I believe you’re in us right now. We feel the fight you’re having with the monster. Would you put it in its place and would you do what you love to do in us, and make peace and trust and love more obvious than fear? Emma and I don’t like the battle inside, but we know what to do about it. Thanks for living in us…” And Emma said softly, “Amen.”

Think that was a good moment?

I don’t want Emma to get overwhelmed by confusing her flesh with herself, which means I have to make that distinction, too. That confusion is so destructive, the effects stretching out like roots to touch everything they can. Not only might she come to believe she is what God believes she is not, but she might come to act upon it and live out her days trying to conquer herself…or give in and give up. And that can stretch through families and friends—even to generations.

I know there are many who think of themselves as the flesh and that they are the monster that produces all the crappy thoughts and desires within. They don’t think of themselves as having become sons of God, now spirit, and not flesh any longer. So when the flesh and the Spirit are at war within them (Gal 5), they think the battle is theirs to resolve. And, misidentifying themselves as flesh, that usually means they get verbally beat up, if only in their minds—You idiot! What a loser! What kind of Christian are you, anyway?! Rather than sow to the Spirit, who would produce what Jesus is like in them (the fruit of the Spirit), they fight the flesh—and that’s no way to live.

Emma has radar of a sort that not everyone else has. Hers looks one way (awareness of need, injustice, ill health, etc.), and yours and mine look another. Perhaps you can’t stand it if people aren’t comfortable and cared for (hospitality), if their needs aren’t met (mercy), etc. In any case, sowing to the Spirit in light of your particular radar (and when it goes off) is how to live. You and I aren’t supposed to do something about everything we see and feel—God in us would love to do something instead. When our own radar goes off, alerting us, we don’t do something by the flesh, we sow to the Spirit to see what He would like to do. He might produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. His life might mean you do something, and it might mean you do nothing. In either case, you’ll be living by the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the monster. And Christ in you will be the delight of your life.

If Emma didn’t learn to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, she’d look and feel like a worry-wart all her days, even while an indwelt daughter of God. We’re working to help her live as she is, not as she feels, by faith, and not by feel.

That means God gets to use her radar as something life-giving, and it means that she won’t get abused by her radar. What a difference.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Remember This?

With everything viewed through a monitor nowadays, I wonder if this will become a lost art.


I think you'll enjoy this short video.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hearing The Voice

Here's a link to a good read by John Piper, a pastor and author I very much respect and admire. While his books are all immersion-required types, the reward is always gold. One of my all-time favorites is his “Desiring God—Meditations Of A Christian Hedonist.” If you’ve never read it, you can order it here. It's a turn-your-head-around book, a true life changer.

In this article, Dr. Piper recounts a recent morning when he heard the voice of God. To read it, go here.

Busy Booking It

I haven’t been much of a blogger lately. Sorry about that. I’ve been engrossed in the completion of my book.

I have just seen it for the first time in months, having received it back from the publisher for my final review. I had nine days with it, looking over what the editors have been doing, and I’m very happy with it—very. While reading it over there were several times I said something like, “Oh, yeah! I’m so glad I wrote that…I forgot I had.”

Anyway, I’ve sent it back for their final edit, and there’s only one thing left for me to do—write an introduction. While it won’t be lengthy, it still feels as though I’ve got to come up with a whole new chapter, something original, something I haven’t written already. I’m trying not to make it too big a deal.

The editor has given me a big “thumbs up,” and the publisher hopes to have it available in a month. Their designer is putting together some jacket ideas, the last thing needed before print.

Yes, I am anxious to see it! I would appreciate your prayers…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bachelor Trouble

I occasionally drift by a humorous web site, To me it's a bit like a magazine I really enjoyed many years ago, Mad Magazine. Anyone remember the gap-toothed, Alfred E. Newman?

Anyway, here's a recent posting from their site. (If you'd like to visit, click here.)

Mormon 'Bachelor' show surprise: He marries them all

SALT LAKE CITY — The producers of a Mormon version of the popular "Bachelor" television program were dealt a rude surprise when their lead man got down on his knee and proposed to all six finalists.

"I couldn't make up my mind," said Larry Whistall, 29, the bachelor. "I realized they all had good qualities, so I went the polygamy route."

Five of the six women said yes, and now say they look forward to moving to rural Utah and bearing Whistall as many children as physically possible. And in-fighting? Not a problem, they claim.

"Me and the other women got to know each other so well, we're already like sisters," said contestant Meg Cook.

Whistall plans to build separate houses for each wife, and is trusting the state welfare system for provision.

Producers say it's doubtful they'll recruit for a new show since they lost about $3 million in revenue because of unfulfilled episodes.

"We were stunned, to say the least," said Cal Generador, head producer. They are considering a new reality series, "Life With Larry," to show Whistall's transition from bachelorhood to having five wives. •

Friday, March 16, 2007

Beware Tech Savvy Leprechauns

(From USA Today)

Sheriff's deputy dressed as leprechaun an unlucky omen on Florida road

ORLANDO (AP) — There was no pot of gold behind the dancing roadside leprechaun, only speeding tickets.

Dozens of drivers in the Orlando area found out the hard way Thursday after passing an Orange County sheriff's deputy dressed as a leprechaun and warning drivers to slow down. A laser detector clocked cars above his sign reading "Watch your speed or it will cost you your pot of gold," and several officers on motorcycles chased those who didn't heed the advice.

Deputy Richard Lockman said police had been giving out about a ticket a minute since 8 a.m. He was dressed in a green leprechaun outfit with a hat, tight white knickers and a fake red beard.

Lockman did the same thing with a Christmas elf outfit in December. Speeders complained that being stopped by a deputy in costume was entrapment.

"I think that's just ridiculous," Lockman said. "The elf didn't force anybody to speed."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What's In A Name?

I occasionally drift by a humorous web site, To me it's a bit like a magazine I really enjoyed many years ago, Mad Magazine. Anyone remember the gap-toothed, Alfred E. Newman?

Anyway, here's a recent posting from their site. (If you'd like to visit, click here.)

Siblings saddled with obscure Old Testament names petition court

RICHMOND, Va. — Five Virginia siblings — Jephthah, Hezekiah, Othniel, Boaz and Reumah Peterson — petitioned for and received legal name changes, becoming, respectively, Jason, Tom, Bob, Willie and Morgan.

The children said the obscure Old Testament names given them by their Christian parents had caused "enough heartache and teasing to last a lifetime."

"Getting a summer job was impossible because bosses couldn't pronounce my name," said Jephthah, 18, now Jason. In the Bible, Jephthah the Gileadite appears in Joshua 10-12 and was called "a mighty warrior."

"A mighty warrior, sure, but what kind of name is Jephthah?" says Jason. "You can't even shorten it."

Reumah, 15, the Petersons' only girl, was named after Abraham's brother Nahor's concubine. She chose the name "Morgan" as her new identity.

"My biggest fear was that people would look it up and find out I was named after someone's mistress," she says. "And having the nickname 'Reumy' didn't help."

The three middle brothers, Hezekiah, Othniel and Boaz, chose Tom, Bob and Willie because "they're the most normal names we could think of," said Tom, 11. "People were constantly asking us if we were Jewish." After the judge granted their request, the boys were beaming.

"It feels a lot better having a standard American name," says Willie, 9, formerly Boaz. "You don't feel singled out. I lived a long time with Boaz around my neck. Now maybe the other kids'll stop spitting milk at me."

Parents Dick and Wanda were saddened by their children's decision.

"We scoured the Good Book for names of righteous people that time sort of forgot," Dick says from his home in Richmond. "The symbolism was there for each child, but I understand they weren't fitting in. More than once Othy and Zekie came home crying from school. Still, we wish they'd stuck it through. Maybe we should have gone with New Testament names — Bartholomew or Thaddeus, or maybe Dorcas." •

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Am So Right With God

…And it’s not my fault.

This morning the Spirit reminded me of what Jesus’ death and resurrection means regarding my condition with God—my constant condition with God. I’m well-off.

There is so much that seeks to identify me as unfit, ill-prepared and deteriorating—I haven’t been exercising, there’s a nasty break-out on my face, my hair is graying and leaving, and much more. It all tempts me to believe my condition is what I see and experience. But none of it has anything to do with what God did for me in Christ. And that’s what actually has meaning and counts. Forever.

Think of it.

Concerning Jesus, Paul writes, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Did it work or didn’t it?! It did! The Father treated Jesus as though He actually committed my sins, making Him to be sin for me (2 Cor 5:21), so that in Him I “might become the righteousness of God.” Whoa. And in Him, I have been made justified with God—as though I had never, ever sinned, and had always done everything exactly right. Jesus has given me His perfect righteousness for my own. What a possession! What a gift!

Because of all He has done, I have peace with God. I don't have peace with God because of what I do—always do I have peace with God because of what He did already. I may not feel that peace, given the ebb and flow of my day, but it has been secured and given to me, nevertheless, forever. That’s the incredible grace in which I now stand (Romans 5:1,2). Okay, in which I now leap! As Paul writes, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2b) Because of what He has done through Christ, He gets a lot of glory in me.

And there’s more.

I’ve been entirely reconciled to God. No errors, no mistakes, no faults, no blame—made perfectly right by Him with Him for Him. (I know that’s a messy sentence, but so what.) “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:11) My condition with God is forever right. That doesn’t say anything about my feelings and thoughts and behavior, which change like the wind, but it says everything about what matters most and what endures—the forever me. A born again, son of God.

Way to go, God! As a friend of mine says to God, “You rock!”

And because He does, so do I. So do you!

Today, I’m living by faith in what He thinks about me. As Wilford Brimley says, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

Prayer Request

The manuscript of my book, Better Off Than You Think (God's Astounding Opinion of You), is back in my hands, and that's good news.

It has gone through the requisite double edit process at the Publisher, and was today delivered to me for a nine day look-over. Whatever I want to change, add or subtract must be done within that time period, and then I send it back to the Publisher. Depending upon the amount or degree of change, they will either send it back to me for a final nine day look-over, or they will print it. It's that close to done.

Wow. My book--printed. In my hands, in your hands--available. Sounds amazing.

Would you pray?

The jacket has not yet been chosen (the pictures to the left and to the right are among the many possibilities, though neither is of finished quality), and there are always little details that pop up and whack you, just when you think it's all done.

Would you pray?

Thank you.

- Ralph

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring Forward

It's time to change.

(This from the AP.)
WASHINGTON — A traditional rite of spring, setting the clocks forward, comes early this year.

Most of the nation switches to daylight saving time early Sunday morning. The change comes a few weeks earlier than it used to, thanks to a change in the law. Daylight time will last until Nov. 4 this year.

It's also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

Some parts of the country don't observe daylight saving time. Those include Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Least Apostle?

With all the attention currently focused upon so-called discoveries of new information from ancient history that changes life as we've known it, I couldn't resist this from

I occasionally drift by this humorous web site, which is never serious about anything. To me it's a bit like a couple of magazines I really enjoyed years ago, The Wittenberg Door and Mad Magazine. Anyone remember the gap-toothed, Alfred E. Newman?

Anyway, here's a hilarious recent posting from their site. (If you'd like to visit, click here.)

DISCOVERY: Apostle Paul a midget

MILAN, Italy — An astounding discovery may reveal the physical stature — or lack of it — of one of Christianity's greatest advocates.

A scroll and accompanying rock drawing found during an archaeological dig in Turkey "took our breath away" with its revelation about the Apostle Paul said Anje Shroecker, head of a research team from the University of Milan. "To put it bluntly, Paul was a midget," Shroecker says.

Shroecker and his team found the rock drawing and a set of scrolls buried at the rock's base. The scrolls belonged to a poor farmer who kept a sporadic journal. He describes traveling to Ephesus to "see the great speaker, Paul, this follower of Jesus they call the Christ." The writer was shocked when "a man no taller than a child entered the room, climbed onto a table and began to exhort us to good works, and to explain the gospel. I have depicted his size on this rock."

The scrolls and drawing date to 50 or 60 A.D., around the time of Paul's second missionary journey.

"The 'tiny Paul theory' appears valid," says Theodore Nadler of Union Theological Seminary. "This diminutive stature solves the riddle of Paul's affliction that he alluded to in Second Corinthians. It also makes his traversing of the Asian continent much more impressive, though we now believe he was carried at least part of the way, which is probably why his companions tended to abandon him."

They also speculate that Paul's "short man's complex" led him to persecute the church before his conversion, and that he was particularly angered by Peter and James who, the extra-biblical record suggests, stood much taller than average.

"It must have been a very bitter pill for him to swallow, being a man who came only to Peter's waist," says Nadler. "Of course, now we know why Paul referred to himself as the least of the apostles. He really was." •

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ladies & Gentlemen!

Have you ever introduced a guest, a relative, or a special speaker and knew you needed to really do it right? The pressure was on because your guest was worth a great intro?

I don't know anything about comedian Steve Harvey, but I sure like what he does in this clip. In front of thousands of people, he pretends to introduce Jesus Christ.

It's a blast.

Lost In The Tomb

Here is the best article I have found that deals with the material presented in the upcoming television show, "The Lost Tomb Of Jesus." Kurt Van Gorden, a friend and emminently qualified apologist and missionary, writes with clarity and authority. If you wish to contact him, you may do so by clicking here, or by the information found at the conclusion of this article. (Reprinted with permission.)

“The Lost Tomb Of Jesus”
Yet Another Attack Upon Jesus And His Resurrection
by Kurt Van Gorden *

Concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:14). No third option is available. Christ's bodily resurrection is either completely true or false. If it is false, then we have nothing to believe. If it is true, then it is the direct intervention of God in human history for the salvation of mankind and it validates the truthfulness of what the Bible says about the person, nature, and work of Jesus Christ. Our apologetic work begins with His resurrection.

Truth Is Worthy Of Defense

At one time the secular media respected the names of God and Jesus Christ. It was common for newspapers in the 19th century and early 20th century to carry sermons of leading preachers in our nation. But those glory days are far gone. The secular world feasts on engaging Christianity in battle from every side. We do not get to pick our battles, but when they publish a false claim, we must either boldly respond or humiliate our heritage with silence.

In this respect, today's Christianity has been engaged in two unwanted battlefronts that obligate us to assume offensive and defensive postures. We know that the real battle is spiritual and that the men whose passion it is to destroy Christianity are unwittingly guided puppets of the Prince of Darkness, and the most peculiar thing about it is that they have no inkling of this. Paul informs us that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4). This spiritual contrast is eloquently portrayed in Donald Grey Barnhouse's book, The Invisible War (1965).

The other battle is verbal. We feel compelled to set straight falsified, twisted, and distorted messages about Jesus that deceive the masses. Jesus is an easy target for them to shoot at because the Church does not respond in violence, but rather by apologetics. From the beginning we have defended the truth in word, logic, and faith (Jude 3).

It is noticeable that every year, as Easter approaches, the secular world takes their best shot at Jesus and His resurrection. We defend Him and His claims, and rightfully so, but sadly when the smoke clears our hearts hurt for those victimized by the lies of the enemies of Christ.

There is a method to the world's madness. If they can somehow cut down God or Jesus Christ, then their world will be a much better place to live (so they think). Take the example from the Russian Communist revolution. The Bolshevik revolution that followed Lenin supported a trade agreement in 1924 with Canada. When the Bolshevik emissaries arrived in Canada with 40 crates for luggage, the Canadian Customs grew suspicious and demanded an inspection against their diplomatic protest. The Canadian search found that 40 percent of the content was propaganda destined for distribution, “denouncing and ridiculing Jesus Christ and the Christian religion and praising Communism and revolution.” Since Christianity withstands error, they must first attack us to later promote their cause.

This trend continues today in many arenas, one of which is The Lost Tomb of Jesus film, book, and Website. These theorists attack the historical evidence of Jesus with speculation to bolster their agenda. One archaeologist, Amos Kloner (the first to examine the site) opines a motive, “They just want to get money for it.”

The Lost Tomb Of Jesus?

It is no secret to those who study Israel's archaeology that many first century tombs have been discovered with the bone receptacles, called ossuaries, still intact. Archaeology, as a scholarly study, does not thrive on flamboyance to stake its claim. Its history is marked with ethics and professional standards that few dare cross. Departing from these standards is the Discovery Channel's film The Lost Tomb of Jesus (James Cameron, producer, Simcha Jacobovici, director). It turns a serious study into a carnival sideshow with extremist viewpoints and speculation that most scholars detest.

I have lectured on the Holy Land tombs and ossuaries since 1990 and found the film's conclusions repulsive, not because it rubs me wrongly, but because I've read enough on the subject to comfortably call their thesis a lie and scholastic fraud, which I do without shame or hesitation.

A tomb discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot in 1980 has several ossuaries that match New Testament names. Those who read archaeological studies know how common this is. In fact, several hundred ossuaries bear names of New Testament people. Cameron and Jacobovici hypothesize that this tomb “may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.” They state their hypothesis in matter-of-fact terms, “This is the tomb!” and it is “the lost tomb of Jesus.” Can they prove it is the ossuary and lost tomb of Jesus of Nazareth? No, so they mount a defense against deceit with slippery terms like may and possible. (Note: If it “may” be so, then it just as equally may not be so, but they do not address logical corollaries). Most troubling is how their proposition is fed by other media that dropped their slippery terms for bold assertions in their headlines.

Cameron and Jacobovici's earth-shaking news is that the family tomb of Jesus was discovered. Their idea is based upon the ossuary inscription names of Joseph, Mary, “Jesus son of Joseph,” Mary Magdalene, and “Judah son of Jesus.” They also reason that if Jesus' bones were in an ossuary, then he did not raise from the dead. But missing from this equation is the fact that nearly 100 ossuaries in Israel's tombs bear the names Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, so granting their hypothesis, how can they assure their followers that they have the correct ossuaries? They cannot and they leave that unaddressed.

What wrecks their theory is another ossuary found in 1931 with the inscription “Jesus son of Joseph,” now making two! Ossuaries with “son of Jesus” are common; one has “Jesus son of Jesus” and another has “Shimeon son of Jesus.” The theorists turn a blind eye to this. Another astute writer notes that 45 ossuaries bare the name Joseph, 44 have Judah, 25 have John, 22 have Jesus, 17 have Matthew, 42 have Mary, 41 have Salome, and 17 have Martha. Cameron and Jacobovici largely ignore these items and they follow it with logical fallacies. They draw attention away from the problem with a red-herring trail by comparing the odds of a certain family group being together in the same tomb. Then they attempt to prove their case with circular reasoning:
• We know this is Jesus' tomb, because the right ossuary names are grouped.
• What tells you that you have the “right” group?
• We did DNA testing and found out that they are unrelated.
• How does this prove it's Jesus of Nazareth?
• Because we have the right group of names on the ossuaries.

They use the same circular arguments in several parts of their motif. In direct contradiction, several of the same names (Jesus, Mary, Joseph) were found grouped in other tombs at the Mount of Offense, Dominus Flevit, and Talpiot.

The Discovery Channel has a revealing interview with Cameron who states: “Faith and forensics make very uneasy bedfellows, because to the truly faithful, there is no need for evidence. Faith implies, essentially, the lack of a need for evidence. You don't have to prove it to somebody...The scientific method is in direct opposition to that.”

Actually, the opposite is true. Christians believe in truth and, therefore, we use scientific studies without fear. The problem here is not science, but its misuse by these theorists. Cameron's statement also contradicts the New Testament (think of Thomas who demanded hard evidence and, again, Jesus who offered such in Luke 24:39) and Church history overflows with evidence instead of blind faith. Here he commits yet another logical fallacy. He equivocates his term “evidence.” He uses it first in the historical sense and second in the scientific sense without distinction. Historical evidence is not tested scientifically as in a laboratory. How would Cameron propose to “scientifically” prove or disprove the historical evidence that Washington crossed the Delaware River? Cameron's logic and premises are fatally flawed.

My concluding points are:

(1) The Website front page outright lies: “Tombs (sic) with the names The Virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene and Judah, their son, are found....” Their lie is that Virgin, Nazareth, and “their son,” appear nowhere on the tomb or its ossuaries.
(2) It is deceptive for Cameron and Jacobovici to pretend that their hypothesis is new when BBC produced a similar documentary in 1996 and newspapers reported the story.
(3) There is no evidence that Jesus was ever called the “son of Joseph,” which they should first prove before seeking ossuaries with it. Point: wrong ID equals wrong person.
(4) Their DNA test is flawed. Why test only two ossuaries with the names Mary and Jesus when 64 are available?
(5) First century Romans and Jews had the best opportunity to produce Jesus' bones, but they could not do so and they knew with certainty the tomb's location!
(6) The name game with Mary Magdalene is flawed. You do not use a document written in AD 350 to identify a name three centuries earlier.
(7) Archaeologist Joe Zias, who cataloged the ossuaries, devastated the family tomb theory on March 1, 2007 by showing that the tomb's 10th ossuary is blank, not inscribed, so it is not Jesus' brother, James! Now it appears that their thesis has a missing family member.

Kurt Van Gorden*
Apologist and Missionary
Director of Jude 3 Missions
P. O. Box 780 Victorville, CA 92393

Friday, March 02, 2007

Growing Up Pierced In Galatia

I think it could be said that there are two styles of Christians, Galatian and Corinthian.

The Galatian Christian sees himself as an ongoing reclamation project. Forgiven and destined for heaven, he is, nevertheless, a mess. As fast as he can after his newbirth he must learn what's acceptable and not, what curry's God's favor and what doesn't, and how to be vigilant in making sure that everyone around him does the same. He doesn't actually believe that he has been given absolutely everything in Christ for absolutely nothing, so he's making sure there are no holes in his day to day life of how-to-make-sure-I'm-right-with-God. He has a big problem with God's grace. Always work to be done, always something to do better. Push, push, push. He doesn't like Corinthian Christians.

The Corinthian Christian is a grace-tester supreme. All he knows is that now that he's accepted Christ, God actually likes him. He's glad he made that good choice for Jesus, and figures God's glad, too. God's cool, and the two of them are tight. Aside from a few essentials, his theology bottoms out at "Nobody-can-tell-me-I-need-to-change. Put up with me--I am what I am...." He's got a problem with God's grace, too. He thinks he doesn't have to move or change at all in order to live a godly life. Chill, chill, chill. He doesn't like Galatian Christians.

I'm somewhere in between the two. I grew up Galatian, moved over to the dark side, repented and renewed my Galatain vows, and have now fallen into a happy life on the outskirts of both.

In the next few days I hope to dialogue about the positives and negatives of each. Is there a bigger lesson we may learn from the two? I think so.

To kick it off, Phil Johnson has a good read about tatoos and piercings on his blog at Pyromaniacs. It ought to get you going. Click here to read the article.