Friday, October 31, 2014

A Ride in the Reconstruction Zone, part 3


From the September 2011 E-Block.

***
As in our last installment, my reading of the second half of Rushdoony's Roots of Reconstruction has produced none of the controversy that I would have expected from all the naughty things I have read about him from certain disgruntled sources. There is still no promise to reinstitute stoning as a penalty if Christians get in charge. Nor is there yet anything objectionable in moral terms. 

There is also, as yet, still very little in terms of specifics of how Rushdoony sees Christians taking dominion over all aspects of life. He tells us (552), "Christainity has an obligation to train people in the fundamentals of God's grace and law, and to make them active and able champions of true political liberty and order." All right -- how? We're not told; all we have in RR is a strong emphasis on construction of Christian schools, but the means of instruction for "people" at large is not specified. We are told that we should tithe to support reconstruction (608) but other than for schools, if you're looking to be told how to spend it, you won't find it here. We are told we ought to make television a Christian domain (1102) but not told how either. Buy all the stations with tithe money and replace the programming? Take over the FCC? "The state cannot be neutral towards God." (907), we are told. All right -- so must it be a theocracy? Must all politicians be Christians? I don't wish to seem facetious, but the weight of "do this" that is unbalanced by the lack of a "tell me how" becomes disgruntling after a while, as it leaves far too much to the imagination. 

There are also some interesting parallels to today's problems of the church; again I can only imagine how much worse Rushdoony would say things are now. At one point he appears to be taking on (564) an earlier version of the emergent church. Later (582) he refers to churchgoers who "sit under pastors who know less Bible and doctrine than they do" (ouch -- how well I know that). And it is not only pastors (755): he has a few words for Christians who substitute "emotionalism and enthusiasm for discipline and work." He minces no words even for the greatest names; he refers to Billy Graham as a compromiser and charges him (689) with adhering to "basic humanism". How can I of all people dislike someone for being this straightforward? 

So are there any problems to report? Well, yes. I have noted Rushdoony's sparse documentation at times, and I selected three claims at random to check for validity. 

(570) He reports that two Nigerian personalities, Sir Ahmado Bello and Sir Abubaker, on January 15, 1965, were eaten by cannibals at a state dinner. This doesn't check out at all; Bello's death was one year later (January 15, 1966) and he was murdered in a coup. I can find no indication that his body was consumed by cannibals. Abubaker was killed in the same coup, and it appears that his corpse was found by a roadside and put in a tomb, not eaten. 

(589) He reports that on January 31, 1967, Lois Murgenstrumm was used as a living altar in a Satanist wedding. This claim is repeated without documentation in some sources of questionable reliability. Perhaps it simply is too old to be on the radar today, but it smells suspicious. 

(1021) He says that a Declaration of Mental Independence was delivered in 1825, by one Robert Owen, founder of a sort of humanist colony. He also reports a visitor to the colony, Gabriel Rey, who saw a mired horse that was left to die. On this one the year is repeated differently in different sources (one said 1826, another 1829) but it does appear that Owen did deliver such an address. On the other hand, I cannot find any confirmation of the Rey aspect of the story. 

So what does that leave us? It's not certain, especially since the book gives no source for these claims. They may seem trivial as claims, but they do raise questions in my mind about how reliable Rushdoony's research may be. 

Next up, we'll start looking at his Institutes of Biblical Law.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cruel Vegetable Soup


From the September 2011 E-Block.
***
By request we are examining an article titled, "Did Abel or Cain Offer a Lamb in Sacrifice to God?" by John Vujicic, in which just about every hook or crook in the book is used to explain away Abel's sacrifice of an animal. The motivation here appears to be some sort of misplaced vegetarianism, or perhaps some sort of primer against animal cruelty; but of course the arguments remain the same even if the motive is for Vujicic to earn enough money to buy a new bicycle. Vujicic's treatment, however, is remarkably long, tedious, and tendentious, so we will pare it down to the basics. 

Not that any motive would do much to improve the arguments. The first resort is to suggest -- using Jeremiah 8:8's "lying pen of the scribes" as a bludgeon -- that conveniently, the particular text on Abel and Cain was changed in such a way that it happened to obscure the point of view Vujicic prefers, which is to suppose that the sacrifices were reversed, and it was Cain who killed an animal and was punished for it. Textually, this one is a no-brainer: There is no evidence for any such textual change in Genesis at all in any manuscript from any period. The Jewish historian Josephus certainly doesn’t have any awareness of a different text; so likewise Philo makes it clear that Abel performed an animal sacrifice. 

Vujicic's desperation is such, however, that he seeks any possible external confirmation for a textual change in Genesis, and he believes he has found one such in a document called the "Essene Humane Gospel" in which Jesus is quite specifically said to indicate that Abel "offered up the grains and fruits of the earth" while it was Cain who offered the blood sacrifice. As you might expect, no credentialed scholar is aware of such a text at all; I found one vegan source that claimed it was found as a third century manuscript in (of course) the Vatican library, but naturally, there is no documentation for this anywhere, and as far as I am concerned, barring evidence, this is to be dated no earlier than the 20th century in which it was printed. 

Due credit may be offered in that Vujicic at least admits to his readers that the words ascribed to Jesus "may or may not be authentic". That's putting it mildly.
Vujicic offers a second document where Cain and Abel's roles are reversed, but this one is no better off. Let us deepen the irony with his detailed description:

The World Bible Publishers have put a book together which is compiled of ancient manuscripts which did not find their way into the canonical Bible. This book is entitled The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden. Various translators were used to translate the manuscripts from their original tongues. The manuscript we are interested in is entitled Adam and Eve. For the translation of this manuscript we are indebted to two great Bible scholars: Dr. S.C. Malan, Vicar of Broadwindsor and Dr. E. Trumpp - Professor at the University of Munich. Ethiopic and Arabic originals were used for the current English translation.

Bible scholars? Not quite. Malan was an orientalist of the 19th century, and Trumpp was an earlier translator. You’ll find this work put out today by esoteric, not scholarly presses. The very fact that the alleged “original” is said to be in Ethiopic or Arabic tells us enough of how little a case can be made for its authenticity. Scholars who do take it seriously suggest dates between the fifth and eleventh century AD.

Vujicic's next point says:

...we also know for certain that the Jews who lived in Egypt, in an area known as the Elephantine, although they built a Temple there - an exact replica of the Jerusalem one - did not kill the lamb during their Passover observance nor did they ever offer blood sacrifices. They only authorized and sanctioned the practice of a “pure oblation”. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. 2, on p. 60, says:

“Meal offerings [oblations] and incense are specified as the only ritual procedures to be followed, as was done formerly. Another smaller Aramaic text dealing with the proposed reconstruction of the temple states specifically that sheep, oxen, and goats were not offered there.”

This is accurate as far as it goes, but there’s nothing in the ISBE entry to suggest that the lack of animal sacrifice at Elephantine had anything to do with some distaste for sacrifices; more likely it was because that was considered the exclusive province of the Jerusalem temple.

The next non-canonical book Vujicic turns to is the Clementine Homilies, where Peter is said to have reported that Adam disliked bloody sacrifices. In this case, Vujicic has the virtue of at least some scholarly support; some will date these texts to the third century AD. However, it is far from clear that this offers any authentic word of Adam; much less does it offer a motive that aligns with Vujicic’s, or indicate that Adam's distaste is universal. It is as well to suggest that Adam disliked sacrifices because it reminded him too much of the original sin episode, when animals were killed to make clothes for him.

There is next a section in which, having assumed the Essene Humane Gospel correct, he then uses Hebrews 11:4 as silent validation (that is, assuming Hebrews shares the view of the Essene Humane Gospel!). Vujicic's one attempt to find the re-reading in Hebrews 11:4 is to point out that whereas Hebrews describes Abel's "gifts" in the plural, Cain's "gift" is described in the singular, and this is said to cohere better with Abel offering fruit (plural) and Cain offering a lamb (singular). From what can be determined, however, both words refer to what Abel offered.

Next on Vujicic's fringe-documents list: A reputed Ebionite book called The Ascents of James in which James the brother of Jesus spoke against sacrifices. This one to has some potential as an older work (though far from first century) and has even received attention from worthy scholars. However, it is clear from the text that James’ motive was the end of the old covenant, not Vujicic’s concern for animal rights.

It is also noted that the "Church Fathers unanimously testify that James from his birth never tasted animal flesh." No citation is given, but even if this is true, it does not establish a motive in line with Vujicic’s; as it is, the low availability of meat in the ancient world just as well frames this as James being ascetic, as opposed to concerned with animal rights that way Vujicic is.

Next up, Vujicic appeals to Jeremiah 7:22 (as also alluded to by the Epistle of Barnabas) -- yes, that same one we've dealt with before -- and also another fake document, but this time one we've seen before, The Gospel of the Holy Twelve (link below). Based on the above -- not textual evidence -- Vujicic declares the text of Leviticus 7 to be forged.

The next Biblical text appealed to is Is. 43:22-24 -- as it appears in the Septuagint:

I have not now called thee, O Jacob; neither have I made thee weary, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the sheep of thy whole-burnt-offering; neither hast thou glorified me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with sacrifices, neither have I wearied thee with frankincense. Neither hast thou purchased for me victims for silver, neither have I desired the fat of thy sacrifices.

There's no need for a fresh answer here: This is simply another version of Jeremiah 7:22, and of the same negation idiom in use. Vujicic simply interprets the text the same way a fundamentalist atheist does. The same may be said of his appeal to Is. 1:11-12 and Ps. 40:6-7, 51:16-17, and other passages in which sacrifice is said to be less preferred than mercy and good works. The use of negation idiom is a much simpler, much better attested notion than Vujicic's tendenetious and paranoid suggestion that scribes wildly altered texts all over the place. If that is the game to play, why not suggest that what the scribes actually altered was the texts that Vujicic thinks forbid animal sacrifice? In the end, he is compelled to declare many chapters of Leviticus to be fraudulent, out of preference for a mere handful of verses -- an incredibly radical suggestion made worse by both the lack of textual evidence and by his misreading of the texts (see link below) as referring to God literally using sacrifices for food.

Much space is then devoted to emotional descriptions of animal sacrifices, as well as a tendentious description of God as reputedly comparable to a little child having a temper tantrum if He's really demanding animal sacrifices. Atonement theory is rather more complex than that, but it matters little since ultimately Vujicic's solution is to say that the "lying pen of the scribes" is responsible for the introduction of these texts (or else,were written by people who didn't know that the lying scribes inserted those texts). Further, texts that decry animal sacrifice without faith are simply designated as wholesale condemnations of sacrifice based on this assumption.

So far Vujicic has been honest if incomplete in what he presents, but he does step over the line in this one:

Please note the text of Isaiah 22:12-14: “…You KILLED SHEEP AND CATTLE TO EAT, and you DRANK WINE…This EVIL will NEVER BE FORGIVEN THEM as LONG AS THEY LIVE” [Good News Bible].

The ellipsis hides a certain sin, though – look at the whole text:

And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Vujicic dishonestly omits the special command to mourning, which is what defines the sin here – not performing sacrifices per se. In similar fashion, Amos 6:4-7, which is properly read as a condemnation of the indolently wealthy who have no regard for God, is imaginatively taken as a condemnation of animal cruelty; eg, Amos point out that these people sleep on ivory beds, not because to do so signifies wealthy indolence, but because, “[i]n order to enjoy this luxury, one must slaughter many elephants.” That reading is as doubtful as one that would say that winebibbers are condemned in the same passage because wine drinking requires the squeezing of so many grapes.

Further on, Prov, 23:20 is read as a condemnation of all eating of meat; it is ignored that what is condemned is gluttony (excess), not meat eating per se. The most obnoxious mishandling of Scripture occurs, however, in the use of Zechariah 11:4-6:

The LORD my God said to me, act the part of the shepherd of a FLOCK OF SHEEP THAT ARE GOING TO BE BUTCHERED. THEIR OWNERS KILL THEM AND GO UNPUNISHED. They sell the meat and say, praise the LORD! We are rich! Even their own shepherds have no pity on them.

Vujicic takes this as God condemning those who kill actual sheep, but the context clearly indicates that the “sheep” here is those in Jerusalem who are about to be judged.

The article closes with some ethical arguments about vegetarianism that are beyond our scope. However, we have seen enough to say that Vujicic is not a reliable exegete. He calls on documents with little concern for their provenance, merely assuming they reflect early teachings; he arbitrarily declares as late insertions any texts he disagrees with, and mishandles texts to make them say what he wants to hear.

It’s enough to make me want to go get a burger.

Jer. 7:22
Gospel of the Holy Twleve
Relevant item from the ThinkTank

Friday, October 17, 2014

Musicians' Gambit: Petra

From the September 2011 E-Block.
**
For this Musicians' Gambit entry, we'll take a step back in time to one of the more classic bands, Petra. I once read this group described as a "meat and potatoes" band, which might suggest that we'll see a lot less fluff than we do in many of the groups we have reviewed so far. That does seem indeed to be the case.

Consider first this set of lyrics:

This thirsting within my soul
Won't cease till I've been made whole
To know You, to walk with You
To please You in all I do
You uphold the righteous and Your faithfulness shall endure
Adonai, Master of the earth and sky
You alone are worthy, Adonai
Adonai, let creation testify
Let Your majesty be magnified in me
Adonai you are an endless mystery
Unchanging consuming fire
Lift me up from mud and mire
Set my feet on Your rock, let me dwell in Your righteousness
When the storms surround me, speak the word and they will be still
And this thirst and hunger is a longing only You can fill

Although there are certainly touches of what we would come to see as an over-focus on a too-personal relationship, the balance of these lyrics is weighted overwhelmingly towards the attributes and majesty of God, and the references to our own experience, even so, are the minimum necessary to express the inevitable I-thou aspect of interaction with God. In short, there is a transcendence here that has been missing from so many of the groups we have previously surveyed.

And where before have we seen doctrinal matters so clearly laid out, than with words like these?

When our labor all retire
there will be a trial by fire
Will your treasure pass the test
Or will it burn up with the rest
You may build upon a sure foundation
With your building in delapidation
When it all comes down to rubble
Will it be wood hay and stubble
Or precious stones, gold and silver--
Are you really sure
And we all will stand at the Bema Seat
All will be revealed--it will be complete
Will there be reward in the fiery heat
When we see our lives at the Bema Seat
Every talent will be surely counted
Every word will have to be accounted
Not a story will be left untold
We will stand and watch the truth unfold
Every score--will be evened--nothing to defend
Every building will be shaken
Every motive will be tried
He'll give reward to the faithful
Will you recieve or be denied

Apart from Casting Crowns, we have seen no group put such a heavy emphasis on personal responsibility -- but not even CC laid the weight this heavily upon the listener, and placed their focus in the main on the experience of the one who suffered, as opposed to the process of judgment. Arguably one might say that there was a balance that needed to be struck between both, and that this is a case of a pendulum swung too far, reactionarily, in the wrong direction.

Petra was, as I recall, not a group that considered themselves beneath a little humor. To this day, "Breakfast" by the Newsboys remains one of my favorite songs, and this one by Petra seems to have been of the same type:

Lucas McGraw, what's come over you?
We're beginnin' to think you're touched
We hear ya got religion
Ya ain't been 'round to see us much
Ya threw away your corncob pipe
And your jug of moonshine brew
And we hear ya ain't been doin'
All those things you used to do
Lucas McGraw, what's come over you?
You're shavin' ev'ry day
You ain't been chasin' women
And you kissed your wife today
You went to church last Sunday
And you shook the preacher's hand
And they say that you been talkin'
'Bout a home beyond this land
Lucas McGraw, what's come over you?
Ya never cuss no more
We hear you ain't been feudin'
You hung your rifle by the door
Ya take a bath each Sunday
If ya need it or not
And ya go to work on Monday
Even when it's hot
Lucas McGraw, what's come over you?
We're beginnin' to think you're touched
We hear ya got religion
Ya ain't been 'round to see us much
But ya know we've all been wonderin'
If what ya got just might be real
And all the while we're laughin'
Is it really God, Is it really God
Is it really God you feel?

I must confess to have never heard this one before, on Christian radio or anywhere else! But we probably should have. The emphasis on personal testimony, which I normally consider out of place, likely has its best expression in settings like these where it becomes a sort of self-effacing mechanism (as opposed to a sort of "tell all scandal" format).

Even more amazingly, Petra offered a similar song based on an incident in the life of St. Augustine:

...one night I heard a knock at the door
The boys were really painting the town
I was just another bored teenage boy
Kickin' up and actin' the clown... Yeah
One dare led to another dare
Then things were getting out of control
We hopped the fence and we stole the pears
And I threw away a part of my soul
Yes, I threw away a part of my soul (now it's)
Haunting me how I stole those pears
'Cause I loved the wrong
Even though I knew a better way
Not for hunger or poverty

It is hard to imagine some of our current groups (aside from CC) making use of what is a relatively obscure story like this one; but there is perhaps a connection to be made here between depth of theological knowledge and awareness and "meatiness" of lyrics. Those who make themselves earnest disciples will bear fruit (not pears!) in accord with that.

Petra was also not afraid to be critical of the brethren for misplaced priorities:

Everybody look there's a new bandwagon in town
Hop on board and let the wind carry you around
Seems like there's not enough to keep us busy till the Lord comes back
Don Quixote's gotta have another windmill to attack
Another Witch Hunt looking for evil wherever we can find it
Off on a tangent, hope the Lord won't mind it
Another Witch Hunt, takin' a break from all our gospel labor
On a crusade but we forgot our saber
There's a new way to spend all our energies
We're up in arms instead of down on our knees
Walkin' over dollars trying to find another dime So send out the dogs and tally ho
Before we sleep tonight we've got miles to go
No one is safe, no stones left unturned
And we won't stop until somebody gets burned
Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Brothers

My one reservation is that I have no idea where Petra would draw the line between a "witch hunt" and a genuine doctrinal dispute worthy of attention. I can only say based on their lyrics that I tend to think they'd draw a line that was a responsible one.

Did I find anything that looked too familiar, like so much of today's music? This came closest to crossing the line:

Why should the Father bother to call us His children?,
Why should the Spirit hear it when we pray?,
Why should the Father bother to be concerned with all our needs?
It's all Because of what the Son has done.
Once we were lost out on the Ocean with no direction or devotion,
tossed about by every wind & wave , Now we are in the world not of it,
and we can surely rise above it, Because the Lord has risen from the grave
And we cry "Abba Father", "Abba Father" ,"Abba Father" , "Abba Father"
We cry "Abba Father", "Abba Father", "Abba Father" , "Abba Father",
Once we were strangers from the Promise, We were doubters worse than Thomas,
Till the Spirit opened up our eyes, Now he has offered us Adoption & we have taken up the option, To be His family Eternally.
It's all Because of what the Son has done.

It came closest....but was ambiguous enough to not cross the line into the problematic "buddy God" treatment. In that regard I found Petra to be entirely sound and never lacking in reverence.

For our next few entries in this series, we'll continue to look at older groups, and perhaps there will be some sort of identifiable trend in which we find that the overfamiliarity of the most recent Christian music can be seen as a relatively recent aberration. It's hard not to wax nostalgic here -- I still recall such favorites as Petra, Stryper, and David Meece, and they now seem so reverent compared to what we have today.

That I describe Stryper as reverent in comparative terms might speak enough for itself!


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Elite Set


From the August 2011 E-Block.
***
A reader requested that we have a look at an item by Stan Telchin titled, "Messianic Judaism is Not Christianity", and the quote marks should be noted, as the title is reputed to be a quote of what is said by some Messianic Jews. I'd have to sum up this item by saying it is an extended exercise in making a mountain out of a molehill: Telchin makes rather too much out of what he perceives to be "elitism" (that in quotes in him, too) that he thinks inconsistent with the Bible.

I'd like to use this opportunity to both briefly evaluate Telchin and expand upon similar perceptions sometimes had over other matters -- such as, for example, the believer who chooses to inform themselves as an apologist might. I'll illustrate that with a personal example.

There was a trying time not long ago for my beloved and I when one of her relatives -- a professing but insincere Christian -- justified some outrageous behavior of his with a particular Bible passage. I corrected him, appealing in the process to sound contextual scholarship, but he dismissed me and my explanation on the grounds that I was being prideful.

Telchin also raises the specter of pride against messianic Jews, and does so in an equally clumsy and unjustified way. He remarks upon one woman who said she would "feel as though" she was being "discriminated against" and was stunned when one man said, "If you don't read the Old Testament in Hebrew, you really cannot understand what is being said."

Stunned? Why? It's a given that every language has nuances lost in translation; thus, the man's statement, if intended (as is most likely the case, as hyperbole) is nothing to be "stunned" about and is not in any sense elitist. You do either need to read the Hebrew, or the works of someone who does, to get the bigger picture; all else is filtered through what is called "bilingual interference" and while not entirely incoherent, will at least be lacking in potentially important contextual parameters.

At the heart of all this is a matter that may pain some modern ears: The Bible teaches equality and elitism in the Body of Christ. It should be recalled that Jesus taught two parables which show this. One showed men being hired throughout a workday, with all being paid the same at the end (Matt. 20:1-20). The other (more than one, actually – example, Luke 19:20-27) has people being rewarded proportionately according to effort. It would be correct to say that the former parable represents salvation, and few have problems accepting this, but the idea of rank and honor in heaven by works tends to grate on the modern ear – and we seldom hear as much about it.

It was C. S. Lewis who once remarked that “democracy” is badly taken to mean that everyone should be equally untalented, ungifted, and unaided. We can see the dark shadow of this kind of “democracy” in Telchin’s protests, and they are supported, as Lewis also predicted might happen, by appeals to how the other person “feels” by not being part of the gifted group. To not recognize unique giftedness has manifest results in the church at large: Unless your gift happens to be to entertain people in some way (eg, as a singer, or a musician), you’re very likely to end up looked down upon for having a gift, to be supposed to be putting on airs, or end up not being trusted or given a chance to exercise your gift.

The result, as Lewis predicted, is a democracy of the lowest common denominator. It has also been a recipe for inactive Christians. Assured that all are equal under salvation, without the complementary message that works will be rewarded in kind, the result is a broad exercise of the gift of being seated, with little if any awareness of larger issues which affect faith – and paradoxically, believers who take a sort of perverse pride in being equal to everyone else.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Snap (or Plunge): James Sire's "Apologetics Beyond Reason"

I have a fair amount on my plate today, so I'm pleased to instead link to a review of this valuable book by my ministry partner Nick Peters. I had been sent a review copy, but since it isn't my topical bag, I'm glad Nick already had a review up.'

Link

Friday, September 26, 2014

Emergent Gurus: Carl Medearis, Part 1

From the August 2011 E-Block.
***

I was not expecting to be doing another entry in the Emergent Guris series for this issue, but a reader asked us to have a look at a recent book, Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Non-Evangelism (SOJ) by Carl Medearis, and I was quite frankly so appalled by what I read in just the first few pages that I decided an extended critique was warranted. 

SOJ, to be blunt, represents in summary that which is worst in emergent Christianity -- a tragic mix of passive-aggressive arrogance and ignorance posing itself as winsome wisdom while undermining the very foundations of what it professes to believe in. For this reason, our critique will proceed by pages -- something I normally reserve only for the worst offenders in any scenario -- and shall extended over more than one issue. 

19 -- Medearis' thematic expression here is that what he calls an "us versus them" model of Christianity which "misses the point." It does? Really? Then one must wonder how Jesus "missed the point" in confronting Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians; and how Paul, John, and Jude "missed the point" lambasting ideological foes of Christianity. In reality, "us versus them" quite accurately expresses the ingroup-outgroup models of behavior found in the social world of the Bible, and the NT is salted with examples of this model as particulars demanded it. Jesus' own inclination to use parables in teaching "outgroup" members in itself implies an "us" in contrast to "them". Medearis' denunciation of this model is a fantasy of modernist tolerance and accommodation. 

22-3 -- Typical of emergents, Medearis makes far too much of his own cleverness in supposing he discovered something. He poses a question asking the reader to define what the gospel is, and after naming various theological components such as eternal life and justification by faith, smirkingly observes that something is missing from the list: Jesus.

I for one find it unlikely that anyone (despite Medearis' anecdotes) forgot that Jesus had something to do with the gospel. It is far more likely that Medearis is making an attempt at semantic sleight of hand by confusing categories: Jesus is a person, and the gospel is the message he proclaimed; to say Jesus "IS" the gospel is like saying Barack Obama is the United States of America. From a category perspective, Medearis' question should have been, "Who is at the heart of the gospel?" This is a quite pertinent example of emergents wrapped up in their own cleverness thinking they have proved some sort of point, when they have actually arrived at that point by way of semantic gerrymandering. 

25 --As another example of semantic sleight of hand, Medearis says with regret that he tried too often to "win allies to my point of view rather than pointing to Jesus." When Mederais points to Jesus, is he not thereby implicity expressing his point of view that Jesus is someone worthy of being pointed to? Emergents frequently engage, I find, an epistemic fantasy in which they suppose that simply because they are not engaging in formal, structured argument, they are not trying to win people to a point of view. 

26 -- In a related vein, emergents (who are not alone in this aspect) are fond of posing "Jesus" in opposition to everything else thus: "There is a place for doctrines and dogma and science and history and apologetics, but these things are not Jesus -- they are humanly manufactured attempts to make people think having the right ideas is the same thing as loving and following Jesus." 

What escapes Medearis here is that without that doctrine, that history, that apologetics, there is no reason to distinguish his "Jesus" from the Jesus who makes Mormon bosoms burn, or from the Jesus who is merely an imaginary friend as the atheists say he is, or the Jesus who is cast as a Hindu avatar who went to India at age 13. The illusion emergents have here is that if they wave "loving and following Jesus" around with a pious flourish, they have dispensed with any priority towards a faith that has epistemic grounding. 

Like it or not, to get to the point where one follows and loves Jesus, one must first contemplate ideas that give way to a decision to follow and love Jesus. Thus even Medearis must have had a "right idea" to get where he is now. 

30 -- Again exemplifying tragic epistemology, Medearis tells a story of four substantially failed ministry attempts of his, followed by a fifth that was successful: He was sent to do prison ministry, and decided he would "simply [tell] them about Jesus." Since his prison ministry ended up more successful, Medearis jumps to the conclusion that it was "just" telling them about Jesus that caused the success. 

Having worked in prisons, I rather doubt it was that trite. More likely, it was the simplicity of the message per se that was most helpful, as opposed to it being "just" about Jesus. But even if that were the case, it is ridiculous to extrapolate so broadly from a single (or even a handful) of random personal experiences, in particular and specific settings, to "this is how it always ought to be to done with everyone." 

36 -- for reasons I cannot fathom, it seems that all emergents make the same mistake of thinking Simon the Zealot was part of the militant Zealots group of the later first century. it would be well here to revisit what I wrote of this some years ago:

Here, what "the more credible portions of the Gospels" are is not delineated, but seems to indicate, "those that agree with the point of view of James Still" - and indeed, those who hold to this absurdly outdated theory of Jesus-as-Zealot must inevitably resort to parsing the NT at will in order to maintain their viewpoint. It will not be our purpose here to take a complete look at these theories; rather, we recommend that the reader consult Hengel's magisterial work on the subject [Heng.Z], and an earlier, much smaller work [Heng.JRev], which will make it quite clear that there could have been no significant correspondence between Jesus and the Zealot movement. (See especially pp. 297-8 of the former, where Hengel notes seven major divergences between Jesus and the Zealot movement.)

...Bruce Winter in After Paul Left Corinth [38] notes that the word "zealot" was applied to a disciple of a teacher, and had been used for a long time in the academy to describe the exclusive loyalty that was expected of a student. It may be no surprise that Luke alone, a Gentile writer, uses the term for Simon

This is not merely a trivial point, for Medearis used the presence of Simon as a supposed member of the "Zealot" party to answer a question posed in a public forum about terrorism. As part of his response, he noted that Jesus accepted a terrorist of the day into his inner circle. Since this is manifestly false, it is already irresponsible as is; but it is made worse by the fact that it would also mean Jesus harbored and protected in his ministry a wanted criminal.

This is a perfect illustration of why Medearis' clumsy and breezy preference for what he so arrogantly designates as "Jesus" over doctrine, history, and all else is misguided. Unfortunately, inspired by the fact that ONE (!) Muslim came up to him after the service and remarked that Medearis didn't talk about theology or doctrine (which he had "heard before") but rather "about Jesus in a way I've never heard before," he concludes -- based on that thoroughly inadequate and anecdotal sample -- that he did a better job than otherwise.

In reality, there can be no separation between Jesus and all the rest of it. The identity of Jesus is intrinsic to, and inextricable from, all those contexts. Medearis' naivete here is much like that of the fundamentalist who professes to preach "just the Bible" and gets a bent beak when you suggest that refinement may be had by understanding the linguistic or social context of a passage. Medearis "Jesus" is an emasculated and decontexualized message rooted in little more than subjective personal experience to which the convert is expected to become addicted under the pretense of it being some sort of "personal relationship".

39 -- Particularly disturbing is Medearis' proclamation that it is not "our job to explain everything," though in context he notes particularly such matters as the Crusades and the Inquisition. This is only partially right: It is not every Christian's job to explain every single thing, but it is our job as disciples to at least know where to go for answers when the honor of Christ is besmirched. In the end, however, it is clear that the problem is not so much that Medearis shows that it isn't our job, but that he is too disaffected to take the job on in the first place. He writes further of a confrontational atheist professor of his in college who railed against Christian evils and made him feel uncomfortable, and then plaintively asks, "What exactly were we supposed to say?"

Is Medearis serious? How about (depending on the argument), "Professor, serious historians of the Inquisition like Henry Kamen tell us..." Is this that hard to do? No, it is not. But Medearis describes such things as this, or as the problem of original sin, as a "weight" [41] he is relieved to have off his back, and that is despicable.

Again: This is not to say that everyone ought to be fully informed on every conceivable issue, but the solution is not to ignore the problems under the pretense of "just pointing to Jesus" as though you were thereby relieved of the responsibility.

45 -- Even more disturbingly, Medearis asserts that the reason why some Christians try to explain things is "because they're insecure themselves." By that reckoning, apologists and scholars are the most insecure Christians around, and that in turn is a gratuitous insult. Perhaps that would explain why Medearis himself used to explain things, but here again, all he would have done to eliminate that insecurity is erect a fabricated "Jesus" (no different than one that might be constructed by a Mormon, or a Hindu guru) that is amorphous and indistinct enough that every possible objection passes through him.

48 -- Further indicating that this is so, here is how Medearis summarizes his message: "We don't have to explain Him. All we have to do is point with our fingers, like the blind man in the book of John, and say, 'There is Jesus. All I know is that He touched me, and where I was once blind, now I see.' "

Perhaps it ought to occur to Medearis that physical blindness being cured is something which is quite plainly evidential in nature; it can be tested, evaluated, and critiqued for effectiveness. On the other hand, his attempt to apply this passage to something internal is entirely misguided: While it can be tested for results, it is incapable of being distinguished, internally, from an artificially bulletproof delusion like the Mormon burning the bosom. The problem though is encapsulated when he says, "we're wrong when we put our faith in our reason." But that's not quite what we're to do. Rather, we're supposed to back our faith (loyalty) with reasons to be loyal. If it were otherwise, the missionary sermons in Acts would hardly appeal to evidence such as the empty tomb.

He later asserts (76), "I point to [Jesus], and He does all the heavy thinking. I don't have to convince anybody of anything." No, but as a disciple, you do have a responsibility to honor Jesus by way of defense when necessary. Again, of course, this may not be Medearis' particular role in the Body, but for him to pretend that it is universally not a responsibility is both irresponsible and contrary to the example of Jesus himself and each of the apostolic-era teachers.

57 -- Medearis uses a quote from Donald Miller that also encapsulates the problem: "How can I defend a term [Christianity] that means ten different things to ten different people?" Well, actually -- you do this thing called "ask questions" and then you "get answers". Again, raising your hands in despair isn't the responsible option.

67 -- One of Medearis' excuses for evasion of responsibility is that it is God's job, not ours, to decide who is "in" and "out", and that it is difficult for us to decide such things (75). But this too is merely an evasion, especially since he later admits that such a line does exist (69). Defining the boundaries of orthodoxy is in no sense the same as deciding whose beliefs are within those boundaries. Once again, Medearis thinks all we need to do is tell people to "follow Jesus," but without the boundaries, which "Jesus" will Medearis be recommending?
  • The one who was the literalization of an initiation symbol in Gnostic mystery rites?
  • The one who was just some average Joe God picked out (adoptionism)?
  • The one who was magician and a homosexual?
  • The one who was one of many manifestations of God?
  • The one who is also the archangel Michael?
  • The one who is the Spirit brother of Lucifer?
  • The one who is a symbolic representative of the Christ Spirit?
  • The one that was a black man, or an Irish priest, or a cynic sage, or a pacifist, or an expression of the Gnostic redeemer myth?
While some of these are facetious, and I could offer many more, it remains that Medearis is believing in his Jesus on the back of his forebears like Athanasius who suffered greatly to be sure that he didn't have to think that hard today.

71 -- Not too amazingly, Medearis shows the documented emergent talent to speak out of both sides of his mouth, as he attempts to make out Paul as a preacher in his mold based on a single passage in Corinthians where Paul says he determined to know nothing but Jesus (1 Cor. 2). The fact that a significant portion of the rest of Paul's letters amount to Paul firmly drawing lines between truth and untruth escapes Medearis, as does the fact that the point of Paul’s statement is not that he came preaching a highly simplistic message of the sort Medearis is preaching, but is made as a contrast to the pneumatic public speaking displays of his Corinthian opponents.

85 - A place that shows that Medearis misses the point is where he asks, "Are we saved by our brains or our hearts?" I ask in reply: How can your heart make a correct decision if your brain is not used?

88 -- I was not surprised to see a story raised similar to one I alluded to in an earlier critique of Spurgeon:

He tells an account of an elder divine who evaluated a younger man’s sermon -- apparently on some text that did not have Jesus as a subject -- as a poor one. The younger man asked if he had not done a competent job of exegesis, and asked of various other faults; the elder man said none of those were the problem. The problem was that the younger man hadn’t brought his sermon back to the topic of Jesus.

Now while this may seem like admirable piety, in reality it is badly misguided. In this I see the seeds of such things as modern Sunday School material that strains mightily to make even obscure OT texts relevant to a modern Christian life – when they aren’t. In turn, this leads to a perception (rightly) that Christians force meanings into texts that simply aren’t there.

Medearis quotes Spurgeon as saying to a junior preacher, "Son, until you can find Christ in Ezekiel you will not share my pulpit again." My reply to Spurgeon: "If you can find Christ in Ezekiel, you're straining it far out of its intended context."

Our critique of the first half of this book is finished, and we will conclude next time. For this half, I would close with a rather disturbing comparison.

Years ago, I critiqued a cult leader named John Clark severely, and catalogued the responses of his followers, one of which said the following:

I knew that I probably didn't need to read [Holding]s article] any further. However, I tried. Like you said, I, too, am willing to be wrong and consider. Reading his website reminded me so much of where I was in 1988 - - confusion!
. . . . I could not understand the big scholarly words, Bro. John. But I understand the tender Voice of my Savior. My prayer for the "scholars" is that they quit hiding behind the big words and just humble themselves before Jesus. Then they could just rest and receive from Jesus what they need.

It should disturb us greatly that Medearis' own professions are identical to that of this cult victim.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Of Eyewitnesses, Memories, and Mark Hamill



 Today we have a guest piece by frequent contributor W. R. Miller.

***


A common anti-Christian claim is that people can’t remember details of events after thirty or forty years.  According to biologist Richard Dawkins, “All four of the gospels, by the way, were written long after the events that they purport to describe, and not one of them by an eyewitness.” [1] Detroit, Michigan attorney Bruce Townley [2] writes, “If one follows the majority of biblical scholarship, Mark was written at or near 70 CE. This makes Mark (and consequently Matthew and Luke) 35-40 years after the death of Jesus. How many ‘eyewitnesses’ were still alive over that time period?”[3]  In the Oxford Annotated Bible, Pheme Perkins makes the claim, “Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They thus do not present eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings." [4]



On the contrary, the evangelists themselves testify to their own eyewitness accounts.


1 Peter 5:1
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed…


2 Peter 1:16-17
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.


1 John 1:1-3
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us…


John 21:24-25
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.


Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.


Acts 2:23-24, 32
“This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him… God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”


Acts 3:15
“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.”


Acts 4:20
“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard


Acts 4:33
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.


Acts 10:39-42
We are witnesses of everything he (Jesus) did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”


These are a few of the many verses that appeal to the eyewitness value of Scripture, compiled here.



The evangelists’ testimony is documented in the New Testament.



What is a testament?



American Heritage Dictionary:

tes•ta•ment

“n. Something that serves as tangible proof or evidence" [5]



Oxford English Dictionary:

testament,

¶3.erron.= TESTIMONY; witness. [6]



What is testimony?



Oxford English Dictionary:

testimony, n.

1. a.  Personal or documentary evidence or attestation in support of a fact or statement; hence, any form of evidence or proof.

b.  Any object or act serving as proof or evidence. [7]



Websters College Dictionary:

testimony, n.:

1. The statement or declaration of a witness under oath, usu. in court.

2. Evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.

3. Open declaration or profession, as of faith. [8]



Experts in the science of jurisprudence acknowledge the eyewitness value of the testimony of the evangelists.  These include Dr. John Ankerberg, Richard J. Bauckham, Dr. Tim McGrew of Western Michigan University; Principal Ross Clifford of Morling College, Australia; Francis Bowen of Harvard; Thomas Arnold of Rugby; William Paley; John Warwick Montgomery, Emeritus Professor of Law and Humanities at the University of Luton; Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard, “Upon the existing Law of Evidence more light has shone from the New World than from all the lawyers who adorn the courts of Europe,” according to the London Law Magazine; and many others listed here.



F. F. Bruce, M.A., D.D., F.B.A., of the University of Cambridge, wrote, “The evidence indicates that the written sources of our Synoptic Gospels are not later than c. A.D. 60; some of them may even be traced back to notes taken of our Lord’s teaching while His words were actually being uttered. The oral sources go back to the very beginning of Christian history. We are, in fact, practically all the way through in touch with the evidence of eyewitnesses. The earliest preachers of the gospel knew the value of this firsthand testimony, and appealed to it time and again. ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ was their constant and confident assertion. And it can have been by no means so easy as some writers seem to think to invent words and deeds of Jesus in those early years, when so many of His disciples were about, who could remember what had and had not happened. Indeed, the evidence is that the early Christians were careful to distinguish between sayings of Jesus and their own inferences or judgments. Paul, for example, when discussing the vexed questions of marriage and divorce in I Corinthians 7, is careful to make this distinction between his own advice on the subject and the Lord’s decisive ruling: ‘I, not the Lord,’ and again, ‘Not I, but the Lord.’ And it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ but also, ‘As you yourselves also know’ (Acts 2:22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective." [9]



At his website (and in his book), police detective J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity provides a thorough analysis of why the eyewitness testimony of the evangelists is reliable:







Why does Perkins believe the evangelists were not eyewitnesses?  Because, she says, “Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus.”  How would witnessing the miracles of Christ—the feeding of thousands of people, the healing of multitudes of people, calming a storm and walking on water, resurrecting Lazarus and himself—be forgotten forty to sixty years later?



Principal Drummond of Oxford said: “If we suppose that the Synoptic Gospels were written from forty to sixty years after the time of Christ, still they were based on earlier material, and even after forty years the memory of characteristic sayings may be perfectly clear. ... I have not a particularly good memory, but I can recall many sayings that were uttered forty, or even fifty, years ago, and in some cases can vividly recollect the scene." [10]



The Honorable Justice Ken R Handley, AO OStJ QC, observed, “This is a remarkable piece of historical evidence written at a very early date, when eyewitnesses were still alive. Anzac Day this year has reminded us that there are still survivors of the First World War, 81 years after it ended, who remember what happened. I had first-hand experience as a judge of a remarkable parallel. In February 1964, HMAS Melbourne sank HMAS Voyager. In October 1996, over 32 years later, I sat on the Court which heard the appeal by the Commonwealth from the award of damages by a jury to a Mr. McLean who had been a sailor on Melbourne and claimed to have suffered post traumaticstress disorder. Our decision is in the official Law Reports.  (Commonwealth of Australia v McLean (1996) 41 NSWLR 389.)  Survivors gave evidence at the trial and had the clearest recollection of what had happened. Under the Evidence Act 1995, Mrs. McLean was able to say in court in 1996 what her husband had told her in 1964 shortly after the collision. (Evidence Act 1995 (NSW) s 64.)   Hearsay evidence, such as Luke has incorporated in his Gospel and Paul included in his letter to the Corinthians, is now accepted in court in civil cases if it was fresh in the memory of the original speaker. The 32 years in this case was longer than the interval of 20 years or so to the date of 1 Corinthians." [11]



Actor Mark Hamill, best known as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series, has been able to recall dialogue after nearly 40 years almost verbatim.



Here is his audition, in which he speaks the line, “Fear is their greatest defense. I doubt if the actual security there is much greater than it was on Aquilae or Sullust and what there is is most likely directed towards a large scale assault.'






The line is never used in the movie.  Yet, he is able to recite it 22 years later for the BBC programme, Omnibus: [12\






Twenty-nine years after the audition, Hamill recalled in the documentary, Empire of Dreams, [13] “I can remember a line from the screen test which I don't think ever will leave me.  Luke says, 'But we can't turn back.  Fear is their greatest defense. I doubt if the actual security there is any greater than it was on Aquilae or Sullust and what there is is most likely directed towards a large scale assault.'
“And I read that line and I thought, 'Who talks like this?'  So I just did it sincerely.”






The documentary played both the audition and Hamill recalling the dialogue 29 years later.



On June 6, 2014, thirty-nine years after his screen test, Mark Hamill recalled his screen test thirty-nine years after the fact, and once again recited the “Fear is their greatest defense” line. [14]






Hamill—as well as Handley and Drummond—demonstrate that it is possible to recollect minutia decades in the past.



What the evanglists believed was more than minutia.  What they believed was the Gospel, with the power to change lives.



Jesus commissioned his disciples to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [15] Henceforth, the disciples did exactly that, presenting the Gospel orally in the beginning, and in written form years later.



Again, in Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”



Do you see the word, “witnesses”?



Jesus had also told his disciples, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." [16]



So for the evangelists, memory would not be a problem.  And how could the miracles of Jesus Christ be forgotten, or for that matter, the miracles God did through the disciples?



Perkins also claimed, “Neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis." [17]



The eminent legal scholar Dr. John Warwick Montgomery points out, “Far from avoiding contact with secular history, the New Testament is replete with explicit references to secular personages, places, and events. Unlike typical sacred literature, myth, and fairytale (“Once upon a time...”), the Gospel story begins with 'There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.'“



He adds, “Modern archaeological research has confirmed again and again the reliability of New Testament geography, chronology, and general history. To take but a single, striking example: After the rise of liberal biblical criticism, doubt was expressed as to the historicity of Pontius Pilate, since he is mentioned even by pagan historians only in connection with Jesus' death. Then, in 1961, came the discovery at Caesarea of the now famous 'Pilate inscription,' definitely showing that, as usual, the New Testament writers were engaged in accurate historiography." [18]



After many years of research, Oxford archaeologist Sir William M. Ramsay concluded, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statement of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history, and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident. He seizes the important and critical events and shows their true nature at greater length, while he touches lightly or omits entirely much that was valueless for his purpose.  In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians." [19]



Such is the trustworthiness—and reliability—of the New Testament accounts.



For more details on the topic, see J. P. Holding, “Dates and Authorship of the Gospels.”









[1] Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, Free Press, 2012, pp. 254-255.


[2]Townley is identified here.


[3] Stated online here.

[4] Perkins, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Oxford University Press, 2007 edition, “Introduction to the Gospels,” p. 4.


[5] “testament.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 11 Aug. 2009.


[6]Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989. Accessed online August 11, 2009.  © Oxford University Press, 2009.


[7] Ibid.


[8] Websters College Dictionary. © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


[9] The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, Fifth edition, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1960.


[10] Cf. Marcus Dods, The Bible, Its Origin and Nature, 1921, p. 184.


[11] Ken Handley, A Lawyer Looks at the Resurrection”. Reprinted from Kategoria: A Critical Review, v. 15. 1999, pp. 3-4.  Handley’s copious credentials are listed here.
[12] Omnibus--George Lucas: Flying Solo,” BBC-1, March 23, 1997.


[13] Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, 2004 documentary on A&E Network and DVD supplement. 


[14] In the first of three interviews by James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Ben Kenobi in The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.  Hamill was visiting Disneyland promoting “Star Wars Weekends.”


[15] Matthew 28:16-20.


[16]  John 14:26.


[17] Perkins, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, Oxford University Press, “Introduction to the Gospels,” 2010 edition, p. 1744.


[18] Montgomery, Human Rights and Human Dignity, pp. 143-44.



[19] Ramsey, Luke the Physician, pp. 177-79, 222.