28 April, 2006

Trinity Discussion with Jake Birch

The blog doesn't allow for the entire conversation to be posted :) Wow!!! Instead, here's a link directly to Jake's 'Jesus is God' blog.

In the meantime, for the sake of berevity, I'll continue to list questions and comments that haven't yet been resolved. These are all based on the numerous discussions between Jake and I:

1. If Jesus went to hell when he died and Jesus is God, do you believe God went to hell?

2. Where in the OT is the Trinity explicity taught?

3. Jesus refers to "my God" in John 20:17. If Jesus is God, how is this possible?

4. Explain how Jesus can be a mediator between God and man if Jesus is God: 1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; This verse says there's "one God" and "one mediator". The two are distinct ad separate.

5. Ephesians 5:2. Christ is described as a "fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". How does this work if Jesus is Himself God?

6. The Greek word to describe the common “one substance” theory is known as “homoousios”. This word isn’t found in the Bible. The Greeks didn’t have a word to describe the Trinity at the time. So they made a word up, "homoousios", in an attempt to resolve certain Trinity controversies that were arising within Church. Explain why this Greek word didn’t exist prior to 300AD and why it should be taken seriously to describe the Trinity.

7. The "one substance, three persons" theory originated in 400AD. What's the Scriptural equivalent to this phrase assuming this term was, in fact, based on teachings from the Bible. Why did this vital Trinity definition take so long to develop?

8. Is there any indication whatsoever that the Jews of today, God’s chosen and blessed people, acknowledge that their God is a Triune God? If not, will they need to before God delivers them (Zech 13 & 14, etc.)? If not, why don't they if the Trinity is truth?

9. If Jesus is God then how can Jesus not know when he's returning to deliver the earth (Mat. 24:26)?

10. Who answers prayers: the "one substance" or one of the "three persons"? Do we pray to the "substance" or the "persons"?

11. Trinitarian prayers were unknown in the Church prior to 300AD. Why is this if the Trinity is a Scriptural doctrine?

19 April, 2006

Oil and Christ's Return

There was an interesting survey on CNN.com the other day: "Can consumers do anything to affect high gas prices?" The perfect 50/50 (68240 vs. 69460) split was surprising to say the least given our voracious consumption habits. Could so many people be so ignorant? Was this mentality a sign of a more underlying problem?

Take some time to sit down and read about the history of American foreign policy and its oil consumption/production/purchasing mandates and you'll quickly realize that the U.S. is a product of its own mismanagement stretching back almost 50 years. The numbers are sobering:

• The US orchestrated a coup in 1953 overthrowing Iran's democratic government and installing a pro-US dictatorship. It proved to be a disaster, leading to an extreme anti-West, anti-US movement still very visible today.
• In 1959, Washington imposed restrictions on foreign oil imports, in place for 14 years. These restrictions were a major contributor to the depletion of US oil reserves and the eventual dependences on Middle Eastern oil.
• Oil production in the US peaked in 1970 (1970 production of 11 million bbl/d vs. 1997 production of around 8 million bbl/d)
• After the Arab oil embargo in 1973, (in which oil tripled in price), the US introduced new regulations requiring car manufacturers to make their cars more energy efficient.

Skip ahead to the 21st century. The US consumes almost 20 million barrels of oil per day, 25% of the world total (Japan consumes the second most at 5.4 million barrels). Optimistic estimates predict the US will exhaust its oil supply in, at most, 40 years. The US manages to produce 5.8 million barrels per day with little or no chance of discovering new oil fields. As of January 1st, 2000, the US had 21 billion barrels of oil in reserve. With average yearly consumption of around 6.5 billion barrels, the reserves will last for three and a half years without relying on oil imported from other countries.

In a 1999 speech, Dick Cheney stated: "By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day."

Andrew Gould, CEO of oil services firm Schlumberger, recently explained the global decline rate (the shortfall between demand and supply) may be far higher than what Cheney predicted seven years ago: "An accurate average decline rate is hard to estimate, but an overall figure of 8% is not an unreasonable assumption." The implication of an 8% decline rate is that 6.7 million barrels per day of new production must be found every year just to break even (let alone meet growing demand). Although data on decline rates is difficult to come by, we suspect that 10 years ago nobody was using decline rates greater than 5% (we’ve even seen ranges as low as 1-3%). Let’s be conservative and assume 5%. That means in 1995, when oil production was 71 million barrels per day, the world needed to find 3.5 million barrels per day in order to break even on production. To overcome today’s decline rates means that we have to find over 3 million barrels per day more of new oil than we did 10 years ago. Based on recent evidence, that just ain’t happening. (cited from 321energy.com)

The Arab oil embargo, cutting world oil production by a tiny 5%, caused prices to triple. What would 8% do...?

"Big deal. If gas prices get high, I’ll just drive less. Why should I care?"

Because petrochemicals are key components to much more than just the gas in your car. Consider:
1. Pesticides are made from oil;
2. Commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is made from natural gas;
3. With the exception of a few experimental prototypes, all farming implements such as tractors and trailers are constructed and powered using oil;
4. Food storage systems such as refrigerators are manufactured in oil-powered plants, distributed across oil-powered transportation networks and usually run on electricity, which most often comes from natural gas or coal; 5. In the US, the average piece of food is transported almost 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. In Canada, the average piece of food is transported 5,000 miles from where it is produced to where it is consumed.

So. What does all of this have to do with God and religion. Is there a relevant link?

Scripture tells us that nations of the world will rise up against Israel in the days immediately prior to Christ's second coming. We're told this in Daniel, Zechariah and Ezekiel. Israel, the only pro-West country surrounded by untold millions of anti-West people with an inherent hatred of Jews, is a natural and automatic target when Western powers decide to flex their muscle in the Middle East. It was never more apparent then during the first Gulf when Saddam decided to toss a few missiles into Israel while the US was busy blasting down his front door. Once the world's supply of oil becomes of critical importance to nations like the U.S., Britain and Australia (which is going to happen much sooner than later), there can be no doubt all eyes will turn to the wealth of gold situated right smack in the middle of the most fervently Muslim countries on the planet. Should a war, a final war, flare up over who finally controls the oil in the Middle East, it's not so much a stretch to imagine the Arab world coming together, having finally found that spark to unite them all: the chance to finally rid the world of their arch enemy under the guise of protecting their spiritual homeland from foreign invaders. The signs are all there: Depleting oil reserves, increasing consumption, the problems in Iraq, anti-Semitism and anti-Christian movements around the world, an escalating war of words between the U.S. and Iran.

The world is suddenly becoming a very, very small place. Why? Because of the world's insatiable desire to have more, to make more, to consume more. Are any of us really that naive to think that God put all that the oil in the Middle East by chance...?

The most ironic part in all of this is that while we're all busy looking "over there" for signs of Christ's return, we ignore the fact that we, the ones apparently playing not part in the situation, could very well be the ones ushering in the chaos and bloodshed soon to be seen in Israel. The cars we drive, the food we eat, the things we buy; we could very well be the straw that breaks Israel's back. We might very well be the ones who force God's hand. It's a sobering state of affairs, although perhaps it's the excuse we need to reaffirm our faith and reexamine our spiritual lives.

Zep 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

Judas' "Good News" Fraud - Part II

The Gospel of Judas has recently been published (by National Geographic) and true enough, it's apparent why this text will ultimately be appreciated for its historical value and not the wisdom of its content. The Gospel of Judas is a bizarre piece of literary work and yet has found a foothold in contemporary thought because it's new and because it's created a stir. It's a feeding ground for pop media. The single verse, lauded by the media and theologians alike as the better, more fair way to view Judas, is this:

"For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."

The footnote, graciously supplied to us by the not-so-inspired translators, is a shabby attempt at adding fuel to the flame: "Judas is instructed by Jesus to help him by sacrificing the fleshly body ("the man") that clothes or bears the true spiritual self of Jesus. The death of Jesus, with the assistance of Judas, is taken to be the liberation of the spiritual person within."

Another classic example of educated people taking liberties with religious texts in order to fit commonly held religious opinion. The facts are obvious: Nowhere in the line supposedly spoken by Christ is "spirit" mentioned. No where in the line spoken by Christ does he talk about "liberating the spiritual person inside". This is precisely how Christian doctrines like the Trinity became so entrenched, so early on (the "one substance, three persons" theory is a perfect example). It seems the Bible isn't too good at communicating its own ideas. Enter the the wise, scholarly elders, deciding and dictating what the Bible teaches based on a show of hands, conjuring up ambiguous defense after ambiguous defense by using words like "mystery" and "hidden knowledge" as a fall-back to protect their integrity and self-interests (a church that admits mistakes is a church going out of business). The Trinity is absent from Scripture. "One substance, three persons" is absent from Scripture. Infant sprinkling is absent from Scripture. Heaven and hell going are absent in Scripture. Purgatory is absent from Scripture. Yet the masses, urged on by church leaders, assume these to be Bible-taught and God-instructed. After hundreds and hundreds of years of constant repetition, false doctrine has been successfully grafted into mainstream Christianity.

Jer. 9:5 "Every one deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary."

Tell a lie over and over again and it eventually becomes a truth.

Nonetheless, even mainstream Christianity is going to find it difficult to justify reading from the Gospel of Judas on a Sunday morning. I hope no amount of justification or references to "mystery" will ever give this so called "gospel" the airtime it's looking for:

"A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. The Self-Generated said...and it came into being...He made seventy-two lumiaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit. The seventy-two luminaries themselves made three hundred sixty luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation...that their number should be five for each."

"The twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father, with six heavens for each aeon, so that there are seventy-two heavens for the seventy-two luminaries, and for each of them five firmaments, for a total of three hundred sixty firmaments."

And one more for the road:

"His name was Nebro, which means 'rebel', others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels - as well as Saklas - to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heaven."

It reads like a piece of science fiction. But then again, every doctrine cooked up by man reads exactly the same way.

12 April, 2006

God Isn't Religious

This was the title of a flyer that showed up in the mail recently advertising a new church in the area encouraging people to come out for Easter celebrations.

"God Isn't Religious. Are you?"

It's filled with fancy logos, a bunch of snazzy images and some motivating words. All in all, it's a pretty nice piece of religious advertising. In fact, if I was so inclined, encouraged by this friendly bit of mass marketing, I'd probably head over there on April 14th to hear "one of their two identical Good Friday services" (reassuring all those people who thought they'd be subjected to a 9:00 - 11:30 rambling speech on the importance of God. Who has time for that?). Unfortunately, I'm not welcome in their church. Because I'm religious. And they don't want religious people worshipping their non-religious God. Maybe they're afraid of what might come up during the Q&A period. Maybe bringing a Bible would send out the wrong message. Maybe getting up part way through a rousing holy electric guitar riff is bad for business.

It's only fitting I suppose that this flyer comes hard on the heels of the pomp and pageantry surrounding the Gospel of Judas and the revived interest in whether or not Christ died on the cross. I doubt very much Christianity has ever been so confused and subject to the ebb and flow of media opinion and platform preaching as it is today.

Somewhere along the line, someone really mixed things up. And it's snuck up on all of us. Christianity is now relegated to nothing more than a feel good emotion. Spirituality has replaced religion. Dynamic messages and foot-stomping holy music have quickly replaced tiring sermons given by tired men and boring hymns played on bored pianos. And it's easy to see why. This is, after all, the Spoon Fed Generation. Everything comes to us. Newspapers, hair products, cars, husbands, wives, friends, Jesus, God. All neatly packaged up and delivered right to our house. No work involved. Just sit there, close your eyes and give us your heart and mind. Don't worry, we'll do the rest. When we're done, you'll have found salvation. Or at worst, a coupon for one of our new books.

The flyer goes in for the kill.

"Maybe you grew up on religion but rejected it when you grew up. You want to know God, but you don't want the religious "stuff" that comes along with it. You're in great company. That's what Jesus was all about"

It's difficult to express an emotion that describes throwing ones hands up in the air and then being stunned into silence.


Justification by faith. The occasional spiritualist. It's the 21st century kick. Just believe in God and He'll do the rest. What a wonderful concept. No wonder billions of people around the world are happily following along (and in the process opening up their wallets). God is being spoon fed to entire generations of people by men who prey on the hearts and minds of the voluntarily uneducated.

Mat 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

"Close your eyes, grab onto my shoulders, and let me lead you to your God." Maybe someone's conscience got the better of them. Maybe it's written in hidden ink somewhere.

There is a level of personal responsibility God expects from us that is being sadly ignored by "Christians" all over the world.

Luke 18:8 "...Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" If faith is all we need, than the answer, of course, is yes, he will find faith. However, is it the right kind of faith... Is our faith in God based on our understanding of Him through the diligent reading and searching of Scripture or is it having faith that the people teaching the new 21st century God are correct? Our salvation is too important to leave in the hands of others. It's something we should ALL be figuring out for ourselves. What's required? What do I need to do? What do I need to stop doing? What does God expect from me?

The suddenly suspicious flyer concludes with this: "It's church for people who aren't into church." But I'm thinking why be ambiguous. Just come out and say it: "It's God for people who aren't into God."

The ditch is filling up fast.

10 April, 2006

Mass Media and Pop Religion

Pick up the April edition of MacLean's (or read it here) and read the following: "The author who inspired the Da Vinci Code wages a new war over Jesus: Did he really die on the cross?" The article highlights the Gnostics, a "staged" crucifixion, and Jesus being taken into a tomb where medicines could be used to revive him. An excerpt following this article reads: "Again, it takes only a slight shift of perspecitve, a standing aside from the theological dogma, to see the crucifixion in a new way. That is, to see how Jesus could very well have survived".

Staged crucifixions. Who would ever have thought we'd see the day.

05 April, 2006

Judas' "Good News" Fraud

For those who have been following the news lately, you have probably heard about manuscripts being made public by National Geographic entitled the "Gospel of Judas". I can't help but feel bemused by the bias of the news outlets:

CNN: "For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story"

The Telegraph (UK): "Although the full details have not yet been made public, snippets discussed in academic circles say it will prove Judas was acting at the behest of God when he sold Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. Its publication will raise fears among traditionalists that efforts may be made to rehabilitate a man whose name is synonymous with betrayal."

The LA Times: "For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story. The "Gospel of Judas" tells a far different tale from the four gospels in the New Testament. It portrays Judas as a favored disciple who was given special knowledge by Jesus -- and who turned him in at Jesus' request."

The Times (UK): Judas did as Jesus asked – "'Gospel' reveals the other face of a traitor. For 2,000 years, his name has been synonymous with treachery and deceit, but Judas may finally have received some divine justice."

Etc, etc. etc...

It's a sad state of affairs.

The general public, including educated "Christians" are leaping en masse to the defense of a man who has apparently been unfairly vilified in Scripture for the past 2000 years. Judas' defense, according to the Gospel of Judas, is that Jesus asked Judas to turn him in. Without a doubt, this idea should make EVERY God-fearing believer cringe. To think we're now living in an age in which the betrayer of Christ is being turned into a tragic hero is disgusting.

What's the big deal?

Only this: The Judas Gospel seeks to undermine the validity of Scripture, the true intents of the man who betrayed Christ, and it ushers in the complete loss of perspective and meaning in the life of Christ during some of the most emotionally charged and important events ever recorded for us, including his death and resurrection. By giving Judas the 'good guy' label, as someone who was only following orders, we have destroyed the tragedy of Christ's death and the subsequent reaction of his Father. We have ripped emotion and meaning away from the most important event in the history of mankind and diluted it so it resembles something of a watered-down attempt by historians, scientists, and money-hungry corporations to dispute divine fact with feel-good fantasy. It's nothing short of shocking.

Some of what we should be remembering while considering the "Jesus told Judas" evidence we'll be hearing much more of in the days to come:

First, what do the historians say?
James M. Robinson, America's leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won't offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it's old, it's not old enough. "Does it go back to Judas? No," Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday...Robinson has not seen the text that National Geographic is working on, but assumes it is the same work assailed by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons around A.D. 180. Irenaeus said the writings came from a "Cainite" Gnostic sect that jousted with orthodox Christianity. He also accused the Cainites of lauding the biblical murderer Cain, the Sodomites and Judas, whom they regarded as the keeper of secret mysteries. Robinson is an emeritus professor at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University, chief editor of religious documents found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, and an international leader among scholars of Coptic manuscripts. He says the text is valuable to scholars of the second century but dismissed the notion that it'll reveal unknown biblical secrets. He speculated the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of "The Da Vinci Code" — a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. "There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles," Robinson said. "We don't really assume they give us any first—century information." (MSNBC.com)

Second, what does the history of the document tell us?
"The National Geographic much hyped documentary shows only a meagre thirteen pages, with text on both sides. When the Judas Gospel was first on the market in 1983 in Geneva, and seen by eminent American Coptologist, Stephen Emmel, he declared that he had inspected sixty pages of text of the Judas Gospel. According to...Bruce Ferrini (the seller of the manuscript), there were only twenty-five pages with text on both sides left, when he 'bought' it from Frieda Tchacos (who bought the document in 2000 and later sold it to Ferrini). Frieda, who in the documentary claims to be the saviour of mankind, modestly stating to be the chosen one to 'save' the gospel for prosperity, forgets to mention that instead of going for a Sainthood, she was marketing the manuscript for $1.5 million to Ferrini, immediately after she bought it in April 2000.

Ferrini, who is widely suspected of having seriously shortened the Gospel, exhibited one page without identifying it as coming from the Judas Gospel in his exhibition "From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book" in 2005.

In the anaesthetic one and an half hour documentary it is claimed that 85% of the entire Judas Gospel is complete… "

Read the article in full here

Third, what does the Bible say?
1. The Bible doesn't contradict itself because it's the inspired Word of God. (Corinthians 2:12 - 13, 2 Tim. 3:16 - 17)

2. Therefore, Jesus was either betrayed or he wasn't. This isn't a mutually compatible alliance. If Scripture is correct and Jesus was betrayed, how can Christ asking Judas to turn him in be considered "betrayal"? (note: the word "betray" is defined as: To deliver into the hands of an enemy in violation of a trust or allegiance) "Betray" is found more than a dozen times in the NT and it never once suggests something other than a breach of confidence and trust (see number 3 below).

3. Old Testament prophecy of Jesus' betrayl: Psalms 41:9: "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." This prophecy is incorrect if the Gospel of Judas is right.

4. Jesus' language hardly indicates he told Judas to deliver him up to the authorities: Mat 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

5. Judas betrayal of Christ seemed to be as a result a matter of greed, not specific instruction by Christ himself: Mat 26:15 - 16 "And (Judas) said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."

Fourth, what does the REST of the Gospel of Judas say?
If people are comfortable in taking a verse or two from this manuscript and waving it around as a truth, then surely the rest must be true as well. For example (closest translation available prior to official publication):

One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed. The disciples said to [him], “Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right.” 

He answered and said to them, “I am not laughing at you. You are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] praised.” 

They said, “Master, you are […] the son of our god.” 

Jesus said to them, “How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me.”

When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts. When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, “Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and […] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face.”

They all said, “We have the strength.”

But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot. He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, and he turned his face away.

Judas [said] to him, “I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you.”

Immortal realm of Barbelo? Jesus laughing at his disciples? Disciples blaspheming Jesus? Any Bible student should be able to quickly discern the innumerable problems with this from a Biblical point of view...


When the final translation is published, pick up a copy and go through it yourself. It reads like a science fiction novel gone horribly wrong. The Judas soap opera is far from over so get a jump on the critics and educate yourself on what Scripture says about Christ, his disciples, and his betrayal. God's Word is supreme. If it doesn't match with what He's written for us, it should be discarded with yesterday's paper.

Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver and then he hung himself. How anyone can paint him in a different light is inexcusable, inappropriate and incorrect. The Gospel of Judas has no part in Scripture.

This so-called "gospel" (def. "good news") fights against the rock of Scripture and in time the Judas argument will no doubt fall on disbelieving ears. How many people Judas pulls onto his bandwagon in the meantime is yet to be seen.