Archive for April, 2010

Children and Public Schools

April 20, 2010

Title: Children and Public Schools

Text: Luke 17:1-3

Time: April 14th, 2010

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper in which I stated the following: “If evolution is a fact, why not permit criticism of it? A well-known atheist evolutionist has written a recent book that is supposed to lay out the evidence for evolution, but the curious thing is that every page or so he repeats in mantra-like fashion, “Evolution is a fact, not a theory.” I didn’t take the time to actually count how many times he repeats the phrase “Evolution is a fact” because he says it so often that it becomes annoying. One quickly feels as if one is in the presence of mere propaganda. Now my question is, if evolution is such an established fact of science, why does this leading voice of evolution need to repeat the fact over and over again? Why doesn’t he simply let the “facts” speak for themselves? But this author’s behavior is symptomatic of the whole evolutionary establishment in public schools. If evolution is so clearly true – or in the words of many like the author above, if evolution is a “fact” – then why not expose it to criticism and permit Intelligent Design arguments against it to be heard? If evolution is so obviously true, then these other arguments against it will be shown petty, hollow and empty – thus confirming the theory as a result. However, that is not the approach taken by the education establishment here in the United States. Instead, the approach taken in most school districts is propaganda. The present approach is to allow for no alternative theory and no criticism of evolution is schools. Why not expose students to the very best criticisms of the theory of evolution and let them work their way through these arguments with class discussion? Why not take these opposing criticisms seriously? For example, if all living things have come about through small, gradual changes from one kind of living thing to another due to changes in the environment and favorable mutations, why doesn’t the actual fossil record show this process? Darwin thought the absence of an abundance of fossils showing the blending of one thing into another thing was the strongest argument against his theory, but do most students who learn biology know this? Probably not; what a shame. An educated student is one who knows how to explain the theory of evolution and knows the strongest arguments for and against it – and most importantly, makes up his or her own mind about it.” They published the article and it generated a lot of replies, nearly 50 in all. Why did I address this topic? Because I’m greatly concerned what they are teaching our children in the public schools today. I’m concerned that parents’ attempts at raising their children in the Christian faith are being countered by teachers in the public schools; and that’s wrong. To teach a child in such a way so that he or she loses faith is a crime, a grave sin. Listen to what Jesus says about it: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves,” Luke 17:1-3. But it’s just not one thing that is stealing the simple faith of Christian children in schools; it’s a number of things. Let me explain. (more…)

The Death of Jesus

April 16, 2010

Title: The Death of Jesus

Text: Matthew 27:41-44, Isaiah 53:5-6, Mark 16:6-7

Time: March 25th, 2010

As far as holidays go Easter isn’t even close in comparison to Christmas in respect to participation and celebration. The Christmas season is by far more popular than the Easter season as far as the different types of observances and the amount of time devoted to celebrating. But as far as spiritual importance, Easter is clearly more important from a theological standpoint and also from an eternal personal standpoint as well. Why is Easter so important? Because with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ salvation is accomplished for those who put their trust in him. And salvation is the difference between an eternity of sadness and an eternity of gladness. Of course, for those who for one reason or another never placed their confident trust in Jesus Christ it’s as if salvation had never existed, as if forgiveness had never been offered, as if the whole Easter event had never taken place. And many people live today as if Easter had never happened – more and more people, I’m sorry to report, simply ignore the whole Resurrection Day celebration, by neither attending a church service, nor by even reflecting on the significance of the day. But let us never be guilty of that as Christians. Let us always remember the day as well as the season, and gain a deeper appreciation for what actually happened and why it means so much. Why is Easter important? Why is it even more important than Christmas, even though you’d never know it from the level of excitement and participation by people in our country and culture? It’s important because, like I said before, it ushers us into eternal salvation. Eternal life, now there’s a concept that’s taken quite a beating in the modern world. From the looks of things today, for most people, eternal life is about as clear as a mid-summer morning mist. We’ve become so good at manipulating the material world for our own benefits that we’ve all but forgotten anything about the unseen world of spirit. If you listen to the lectures they are giving now in colleges and universities to young people you would definitely get the impression that there is no spirit world, that the only thing that exists is matter and energy. The move in the academy and intellectual circles is to dismiss the world of spirit entirely as a vestige of bygone days when people believed in superstitions, myths and fairies. If that really is the case, then of course eternal life would be nonsense and the resurrection of Christ, which opened the way to eternal life, makes no sense either. But if the modern world is wrong about the spirit, if our preoccupation with the material world has blinded us to a different reality, if we need to be reminded once again that reality is larger than logic, then Easter really does have great importance to us all. This is what I believer strongly is the case. We need the Easter season every year to remind us once again that there is more to life than materialism. When our life on earth is over, when our natural world and our body dissolves, we are going to turn to spiritual reality as our only hope. Our response to spiritual reality now will determine whether the next life offers us hope or despair. (more…)

The Shroud of Turin, Part 2

April 15, 2010

Title: The Shroud of Turin, Part 2

Text: Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, 24:12, 22-27, John 19:38-40, 20:3-9,

Time: April 13th, 2010

Until May 23rd, 2010 the famous Shroud of Turin will be on display in Italy, so I thought while it’s being displayed publicly I’d talk a little bit more about it and how we should view it as Christians. Like I said before, different Christians have different responses to the Shroud. Some are more skeptical; others are more open-minded about it. As you know, I’m someone who is more open to the Shroud being authentic because I’ve read many books on it, seen many documentaries, and have done enough thinking about it and talking about it to come to the conclusion that it either has to be the actual burial cloth of Christ – or it’s the biggest and best medieval forgeries ever made. There is no question that the man on the Shroud is supposed to be Jesus Christ; it bears all the marks of crucifixion just like the Gospels outline. So it’s either the real deal or highly sophisticated fake that has stumped even the best scientists and scholars in the world today. Of course, there’s the whole matter of the Carbon-14 dating that yielded the date of the cloth sometime around the 14th century. If this test is accurate, then the Shroud cannot be authentic. But there’s a growing skepticism about the accuracy of the Carbon-14 test because of the very poorly selected sample taken from the Shroud for dating. More and more researchers are concluding that the sample taken to date the Shroud is actually part of a carefully woven patch to repair an earlier damage. If this is so, then the Carbon-14 test was actually dating a sample that doesn’t represent the Shroud as a whole. It will probably need to be re-dated to clear up this controversy. In the meantime, further research continues. Now one of the main concerns Protestant Christians have when discussing the Shroud – or any purported authentic relic of Christianity – is whether or not it is biblical. We are commanded in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul to “Test all things, cling to that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. We don’t just accept things, even things that confirm and support our faith, but rather, we test all things to see if they line up with the Bible. If they do, then there is the possibility they may be authentic; even then, they would have to pass further tests for genuine authenticity. But on a minimum they must pass the biblical test. So how does the Shroud stand up when put to the test of the Bible? That’s very important for us Protestants because after all one of the key Reformation mottos was sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.” The Bible alone is the supreme test for all truth claims. So what I’d like to do today is examine the claim that the Shroud is actually described in the Bible, particularly in a specific passage – John 20:3-9, and see if it’s true. One of the great things about discussing the Shroud of Turin is it actually gets us into the biblical accounts of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether the Shroud turns out authentic or not, it’s always good to explore and reflect on these great themes because they exist at the center of Christian faith. So let’s examine the evidence from the Gospels for the Shroud. (more…)

The Shroud of Turin

April 14, 2010

Title: The Shroud of Turin

Text: Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, 24:12, 22-27, John 19:38-40, 20:3-9,

Time: April 12, 2010

Beginning on April 10th until May 23rd, 2010 the famous Shroud of Turin will be on display in Italy. What is the Shroud of Turin? I’m sure you’ve already heard about this most popular of all Christian relics, but in case you aren’t up on it, here’s a brief description: “This fragile linen cloth, which measures 14.5 x 3.9 feet, bears the image of the front and back of a long haired, bearded man who appears to have suffered wounds that match the description in the Gospels of Jesus’ crucifixion. The image is reversed, like a photographic negative. The Shroud has been a source of debate among Christians, scientists and others for many years. Many believe the yellowing linen is Christ’s burial cloth when He was placed in the tomb and that his image was somehow imprinted on the cloth around the time of the Resurrection.” Now if you talk to different Christians you’ll get different responses to the Shroud. I think most Protestant Christians upon hearing of it for the first time are a little skeptical of it — for good reasons. After all, aren’t there all kinds of Christian relics in Europe and the Middle East that are supposedly authentic, yet upon closer examination turn out to be mostly fake? I heard one historian state that if all the wood of all the relics purported to be from the original cross of Christ were put together, you’d have tons of wood – obviously an impossible situation because Christ’s cross wasn’t that massive. So most Christians are naturally skeptical about such things. I know for myself, when I see television documentaries of the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, showing the exact spot marked by a metallic star where people visit today, I’m skeptical. Who can say that’s the exact spot? I’m not even sure I’d want to visit that spot today because I’d be afraid that I’d be disappointed. I’d rather read the historical accounts in the Bible and visualize it in my mind’s eye rather than take the word of some Middle Eastern tour guide that a metallic star marks the spot. I tend to be skeptical of such things. But when it comes to the Shroud of Turin, I’ve read enough books about it, watched enough serious television documentaries, and thought about it enough to think and believe that it just might be the authentic burial cloth of Christ. Now if it were proved to be a fake, would that hurt my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior? No, because my faith rests in God and God’s Word, not in any cloth. But I find the Shroud very interesting, and the more I study about it the more credible it becomes. So let me take just a few minutes today and explain some things about the Shroud of Turin that show it just might be the authentic burial cloth of Christ. Let’s go to the New Testament and examine a few verses. If nothing else, the Shroud gives us an excuse to study the scriptures. I hope to show that there isn’t anything in the Bible that necessarily rules out the authenticity of the Shroud. (more…)