Archive for September 27th, 2007

Again CRN proves with this post that it will join hands with anyone and everyone when it comes to bashing other believers. Many of us have had issues with Rev. Graham’s associations with Presidents, but the man who wrote this caustic book, Cecil Bothwell, is a liberal environmentalist who by all indications is not a believer. He widely criticized James Watt’s appointment as Secretary of the Interior because Watt believed Jesus would return one day. Absurd, he laments.

So the moral to the story is when you have a disagreement with a brother, provide a welcome forum for the unbeliever to make money on his book that bashes your brother in Christ, unless you believe Billy Graham is not in Christ, and these days many of the magisterial counsel of blogdom might have even stooped to that level. What fellowship does light have with darkness only applies when it suits your taste.

********UPCOMING********

Hugh Hefner is writing a book criticizing the emergent church, watch for the reviews on CRN, it promises to be an eye opener!

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The Judean WildernessAs Christians, we read in the Hebrew Scriptures (which we refer to, somewhat incorrectly, as the Old Testament) that the children of Israel were God’s “chosen” people. This “chosen”-ness often accompanies confusion, as Christians read it. Chosen for what? Too often, I hear people assume that this “chosen”-ness means that, before Christ, all men apart from Israel were hell-bound. This is a sadly mistaken interpretation, as there is no emphasis on the afterlife in the sciptures, prior to the arrival of Christ.

So, then, what were the Israelites chosen for? Perhaps we should begin with the first usage of “chosen” in scripture for a clue:

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. Genesis 18:18-19

So here, we find that Abraham was chosen so that a) he and his descendants would keep to the way of the LORD; so that b) the LORD would bring about His promises. What were these promises (in relation to mission)?

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:2-3

So here we have a double-statement of the same promise. God will bless Abraham and his descendants in order that they will be a blessing to all peoples on the earth. They are blessed to be a blessing. This is then reiterated as a promise after Abraham is tested in his willingness to give up his only son, Isaac.

I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. Genesis 22:16-18

So, once again, Abraham’s descendants are promised to be numerous so that all nations on earth will be blessed. Here again, they are blessed so that they will be a blessing.

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You'd better not celebrate Christmas, little watchdawggie!Here’s a little quiz, prompted by a resurgence of ODM activity around a particular topic currently on the “let’s blow this out of proportion” list.

The Quiz:

  1. Should a Christian celebrate Christmas on December 25?
  2. Should a Christian celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox (as it is currently celebrated)?
  3. Should a Christian run in a marathon?
  4. Should a Christian take any part in skits/plays/theater in which they pretend to be someone other than who they are, or they observe someone else pretending to be someone other than who they are?
  5. Should a Christian acknolwedge Valentine’s Day by doing something out of the ordinary in describing his/her love for their spouse?
  6. Should a Christian drink tea?
  7. Should a Christian play card-based games?
  8. Should a Christian ever use the word “fortunately”?
  9. Should a Christian refer to the first day of the week as “Sunday”?
  10. Should a Christian refer to the second day of the week as “Monday”?
  11. Should a Christian refer to the third day of the week as “Tuesday”?
  12. Should a Christian refer to the fourth day of the week as “Wednesday”?
  13. Should a Christian refer to the fifth day of the week as “Thursday”?
  14. Should a Christian refer to the sixth day of the week as “Friday”?
  15. Should a Christian refer to the seventh day of the week as “Saturday”?
  16. Should a Christian use a Julian calendar?
  17. Should a Christian enroll in a self-defense or martial-arts class?
  18. Should a Christian family give out candy to children who come to their door on October 31?
  19. Should a Christian participate in low-impact stretching exercises similar to those in Hindu yoga classes, while meditating upon scripture?
  20. Should a Christian walk through a physical maze or in a maze-like pattern while praying or meditating upon scripture?

Discussion:

If you believe in the standard “if something was derived from pagan roots, then Christians should avoid it”, then your answers to all of these questions should be “no”.

Today’s example in inconsistency in belief and practice, has an ODM writer on a radio program creating a strawman out of Christians practicing stretching exercises derived from yoga as if it were the sum total of their Christian lives and as if it were their means of spiritual fulfilment. You can listen, but he doesn’t say anything all that new – or all that true, for that matter.

In reality, no body position is ontologically evil, and meditating upon the Word of God while exercising in any body position is not evil. Walking in a maze-pattern is no more evil than walking in a straight line. It comes down (as so many things do) to the heart. If you are searching for God, the scriptures are the best place to go first, and the community which demonstrates His Word second. If you are looking for low-impact exercize, going to a Christian “yoga” class is not entering the house of the devil, regardless of what a pseudo “pastor” might say on a radio program.

Why this is again a repetitive issue of the past couple of weeks is anyone’s guess, but most likely due to the need to rally around the modern-day idol of John MacArthur. Regardless, it is important to guard our hearts against the work of the evil one – who can be found most anywhere – rather than trying to superstitiously avoid anything and everything “with pagan roots”…

“Answer” Key

For those of you with analytical/geekish tendencies, here are the pagan references to the questions above:

1. In part, the Christmas celebration was created by the early Church in order to entice pagan Romans to convert to Christianity without losing their own winter celebrations. Most of the most important gods in the religions of Ishtar and Mithra had their birthdays on December 25. Various Christmas traditions are considered to have been syncretised from winter festivals.

2. The English name, “Easter”, and the German, “Ostern”, derive from the name of a putative Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the Dawn (thus, of spring, as the dawn of the year) — called Ä’aster, Ä’astre, and Ä’ostre in various dialects of Old English and Ostara in German. About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill …Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.

3. The god Pan was credited with the Athenian victory at Marathon, and the re-running of the “Marathon” became a means of glorifying Pan.

4. The theatre was born of pagan origins as a way of honoring the gods in the retelling of their stories – often in the nude. Additionally, the word ‘hypocrite’ is derived from the word hypokrites, which specifically described actors.

5. Every February the Romans celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor the god Lupercus so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks. Also during Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus, the church officials changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day.

6. The origins of the usage of tea come from China, possibly 2000+ years before Christ, and was considered to be a component of Zen Buddhist ritual.

7. Playing cards came from pagan Chinese practice, and are primarily associated with games of chance.

8. “Fortunately” is a word derived from the Roman goddess Fortuna, the goddess of luck. The word came about in giving homage to Fortuna, or “lady luck”, when something good happened to a person.

9. The name “Sunday” (Day of the Sun) apparently originated in pre-Christian Egyptian culture. In Ptolemaic Egyptian astrology, the seven planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, had an hour of the day assigned to each, and the planet which was “regent” during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day.

10. Monday gets its name from the Moon, which in turn gets its name from Mani (Old English Mona), the Germanic Moon god.

11. The name Tuesday comes from Middle English Twisday, from Old English Tiwes dæg, named after the Nordic god Tyr, who was the equivalent of the Roman war god Mars.

12. The name Wednesday comes from the Middle English Wednes dei, which is from Old English Wodnes dæg, meaning the day of the Germanic god Woden (Wodan) who was a god of the Anglo-Saxons in England until about the 7th century. Wodnes dæg is like the Old Norse Oðinsdagr (”Odin’s day”), which is an early translation of the Latin dies Mercurii (”Mercury’s day”). Although Mercury (the messenger of the gods) and Woden (the king of the Germanic gods) are not equivalent in most regards, both gods guided the souls of the dead to the underworld.

13. The name Thursday comes from the Old English Þunresdæg, meaning “Day of Thunor”, this being a rough Germanic equivalent to the Latin Iovis Dies, “Jupiter’s Day”.

14. The name Friday comes from the Old English frigedæg, meaning the day of Frige the Anglo-Saxon form of Frigg, the Germanic goddess of beauty.

15. Saturday retains its Roman origin in English which is of the Roman god of agriculture Saturn. It has been called dies Saturni (”Saturn’s Day”), through which form it entered into Old English as Sæternesdæg and gradually evolved into the word “Saturday”.

16. The names of the months in the Julian calendar all derive their names from Roman gods and Roman Emprerors worshipped as gods.

17. Martial arts were derived from ancient pagan religious practices in multiple Eastern cultures, and still include breathing and focus techniques.

18. Halloween originated under the name of Samhain as a Pagan festival among the Celts of Ireland and Great Britain. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

19. Yoga, as developed by Hindus, may include “emptying the mind” and Eastern religious transcendental meditation, and came from pagan origins.

20. Labyrinths came from Greek mythology and were used by both pagans and the Catholic church in meditation.

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