Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Lesson from History


A Lesson from History

December 31, 2016

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I. K. Cross

 

Source: The Baptist Sentinel – March 1988

Some feel that the issue of the universal church is not important.

‘Others declare that Baptists have been divided over the issue through the ages, never coming to agreement on the subject. This depends upon whom you call Baptists. Not everyone that wears the name qualifies with the evidence. On the other hand, prior to the 16th Century Reformation, Baptists were not even known by that name.

“Catholic” in the Generic Sense

It is true that groups identified with Baptist principles prior to the Reformation occasionally used the term “catholic,” or “universal” when referring to the church. But what did they mean? There was nothing else around except the Roman and Greek Orthodox Catholic churches, and groups such as the Paulicians and Donatists certainly did not intend to include them when using the term. All they meant by the term was all true churches considered as one group, much as we use the term church in a generic sense.

History reveals, quite clearly what these congregations believed about the purity and independence of local congregations.

It is also true that when the first confession of faith was written for the Philadelphia Association in America they used the term “universal church.” But a sense of history will clear up your thinking on what these churches believed about the nature of the church. ‘The association was originally made of ‘of Baptists from Wales, one congregation coming as a body from that country. Their minutes were kept in the Welsh language for a number of years. No one knew better than the Baptist in Wales the price they had paid for the true nature of New Testament churches. They had been hounded by the legions and bishops of Rome and they survived only because they could secure themselves in the mountains of that country during the harsh winters. They had stedfastly refused to bow to the concept of the catholic church of Rome, and who would dare accuse them of compromising with the Protestant Reformers’ catholic substitute!

Danger of the Universal Church Concept

Is there a real danger in the universal, invisible church concept, or is it merely a side issue? Back in the 19th century Southern Baptists were writing about the “Universal Church Heresy,” (Re-Thinking Baptist Doctrines, Victor I. Masters, editor). But in 1939 Dr. Aidredge couldn’t even get the floor of the convention to introduce a resolution declaring they did not accept the idea.

Southern Baptist Convention Embraces the Universal Church Theory

In 1963 the SBC wrote the universal church into their declaration of faith (Baptist Faith and Message). Now the denomination declares itself Protestant, claiming its heritage goes no farther back than the 16th century. They meet gladly with Roman Catholic leaders and even greeted the Pope of Rome on his arrival in the U.S. last year. Many of their churches accept baptisms from Protestant denominations and practice open communion, and it is also taught in the classrooms of their schools by a number of their professors.

Shot through with Modernism

This position was taken by the northern convention, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., long before it was received in the south, and they have become so shot through with modernism that they receive the National and World Council of Churches as an affiliate. It is the universal church concept that has opened the door for the forward thrust of the ecumenical movement among Protestant churches today.

Read Up on Church History

Read history before you embrace the universal church concept, or call it a minor issue. Isaiah warned about drawing sin as it were a cart rope (Isaiah 5:18). Shall we gradually lose our identity as Landmark Missionary Baptist by blending gradually with the dull grey of a universal church protestantism, or will we reaffirm the basic principle upon which we have held our ground through the centuries?

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10 Historical Facts About Jesus


10 Historical Facts About Jesus From Non-Christian Sources

 – 3/27/2017
If you have ever been involved in religious discussion on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably come across some version of the comment below:

I just think it’s interesting that the only book that even talks about Jesus is the Bible! I’m not even sure we can prove he actually existed.

Although this assertion is largely rejected by scholars in all spheres of historical and biblical studies, it tends to pop back up on social media like a never-ending game of digital whack-a-mole. The truth is that Jesus is not only documented in the eye-witness testimony compiled in the New Testament, but He is mentioned as a historical person by several non-Christian sources within 150 years of His life. From those sources, we can learn 10 things about Jesus without even opening a Bible:

1. He was known to be wise and virtuous. 

This fact was reported by Jewish Historian Josephus, who was born around AD 37. In his Antiquities of the Jews, he reports: 

At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. (1)

2. He had a brother named James. 

In recounting the stoning of James, Josephus records:

So he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (2)

3. He was known to perform miracles. 

Celsus was a  2nd-century Greek philosopher and a fierce opponent of Christianity. In what is known to be the first comprehensive intellectual attack on Christianity, he tried to resolve why Jesus was able to perform miracles. The story is wild—but the main point is that by trying to explain away the miracles of Jesus, he is actually affirming that they happened:

Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.(3)

4. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. 

This fact comes to us from one of the most trusted historians of the ancient world. Cornelius Tacitus was born in AD 56 and served as a respected senator and proconsul of Asia under Emperor Vespasian. He wrote a history of the first century Roman Empire, which many historians consider to be the “pinnacle of Roman historical writing.”(4) He notes:

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus. (5)

Josephus confirmed:

Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.(6)

5. His crucifixion was accompanied by darkness and an earthquake.

This fact was originally recorded by a Samaritan historian named Thallus, who was alive at the same time Jesus was (AD 5-60). He wrote a 3-volume history of the 1st-century Mediterranean world, which unfortunately no longer exists.  But before his writings were lost, he was cited by another ancient historian, Julius Africanus, in AD 221. Africanus  described Thallus’ account of what happened during Jesus’ crucifixion:

On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. (7)

6. He had many Jewish and Gentile disciples.

Josephus wrote:

And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon discipleship.(8)

7. He lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.

Julius Africanus also reported that another ancient historian, Phlegon, confirmed the darkness at the time of Jesus’ death and that Jesus was alive “in the time of” Tiberius Caesar:

Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth. (9)

8. His disciples believed that He rose from the dead.

In his commentary regarding the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ death, Josephus recorded:

[Jesus’ disciples] reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion; and that he was alive…. (10)

9. His disciples believed He was God, and they met regularly to worship Him.

Pliny the Younger lived from AD 61-113 and was an influential lawyer and magistrate of ancient Rome. In a letter to Emperor Trajan he wrote:

They [Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. (11)

Lucian of Samosata was a 2nd-century Greek satirist known for his wit and sarcasm. Even though Christians were the object of his snark, he affirmed certain details about them:

The Christians, you know worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rights, and was crucified on that account….it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. (12)

10. His disciples were willing to suffer and die for their beliefs.

The persecution and suffering of early Christians was recorded by Suetonius, the official secretary of the Roman Emperor Hadrian around AD 121. He documented that they were expelled from Rome in AD 49 by Claudius:

Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from Rome. (13)

and:

Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.  (14)

Tacitus also confirmed Nero’s persecution of early Christians:

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  (15)

Conclusion: 

From non-Christian and even anti-Christian sources, we can be sure that Jesus in fact existed, was crucified, was believed to be resurrected from the dead, and His many followers were willing to suffer and die for that belief.

The next time someone claims that there is no evidence for Jesus outside the Bible, be sure to share these 10 facts with them!

Resources:
(1)Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.3 (There are more specific, fantastical, and supernatural versions of this quote in antiquity that are believed to have been interpolated. The quote I cite in this article is the one that most scholars agree is authentic. See Shlomo Pines, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and Its Implications, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Jerusalem, 1971, cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity)
(2) Josephus, 20.9.1

(3) Origen, Contra Celsum, 1.28
(4) Ronald Mellor, Tacitus’ Annals, p. 23
(5) Tacitus, Annals, 15.44
(6) Josephus, 18.3.3
(7)  Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, vol. 9, Irenaeus, Vol. II— Hippolytus, Vol. II— Fragments of Third Century (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1870), 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.)
(8) Josephus, 18.3.3

(9) Ante-Nicene Christian Library, eds. Roberts and Donaldson, vol. 9, 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.)
(10) Josephus, 18.3.3
(11) Pliny the Younger, Book 10, Letter 96
(12)Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13
(13) 
C. Suetonius Tranquillus, Divus Claudius, 25.4
(14) Suetonius, The 12 
Caesars, Nero Claudius Ceasar, XVI
(15)  Tacitus, Annals, 15.44

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CONTRADICTIONS? YES? NO?


CONTRADICTIONS? YES? NO?

William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

There are times when one may wonder if Holy Writ supports a contradiction. Here is what is meant.
Hebrews 10:26-27 states, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Then, one may read in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –


A student once asked, “Which way is it? If confession is made and sins are forgiven, then why is it said there is no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for judgment as a result of sins committed? It may be rightly supposed that quite a number of people wonder the same thing. The writer of Hebrews speaks of a willful turning away from the truth of the faith once delivered to the saints to follow another path. If such an one under-
stands the New Testament plan of living for the Lord and willfully rejects it, what is it that would bring him back to it. There is no plan “B.” Those so erring will follow a path of iniquity which shall be devoured at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Lord will not reward disobedience.
However, what the Apostle John points out is that all of us have to deal with sin in life. Such is not a rejection of the teaching of the Lord, but moral slips, unbecoming speech; disrespect for others; sins of omission as well as commission that should be repented of daily. In such cases, the Lord is always ready to forgive and to heal His dear children. On this basis the true Christian will walk in the light as He is in the light, and know all the wonderful benefits of life mentioned in I John 1:7.
Is there a contradiction in the Word? Absolutely not, far from it. Trust it fully, and know the peace it brings!

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Just a Thought


Truth in Palmyra

matthew 18_3

A childlike faith is NOT the same as a childish faith

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