Category Archives: Jesus Christ

Happy Christmas! Cheer up! Jesus never lived!

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May be an image of text that says "SMILE THERE s FIELL Atheist Forum @ForumAtheist #AtheistForum Jesus christ isn't coming to save anyone because he doesn't exist. Jesus was created by The First Council of Nicea (325 A.D.). Do your research and stop believing in bullshit"

Viewing wacky fundamentalist and creationist social media is great fun and the source of many a cheap laugh. And so we have Jesus riding a dinosaur and the 15th century Bishop of Carlisle having a pet dinosaur.

However some atheists, especially of the village idiot atheist type are just as risible, as is the clever clogs who posted the tweet above. Along with its incoherence its shows really profound ignorance of the history and the claims of the Christian church.

By stating that “Jesus doesn’t exist” I assume he means that there was no Jesus who lived in Palestine at the same time Augustus was Emperor, rather than implying Jesus never rose so he may have existed once but now no longer! I’ll leave the latter as the resurrection is irrelevant if Jesus didn’t live on this planet for thirty odd years.

Few historians reject the existence of Jesus and one of the few is Richard Carrier an American. Almost all conclude that the was a Galilean wandering God-botherer who ended up being crucified. One of the most thorough works is Geza Vermes , formerly professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. Rowan Williams thought his Christian Beginnings “a beautiful and magisterial book”. Vermes has a very historical Jesus but rejects “the deifying message Paul, John and the church attributed to him”. The decisions of the council of Nicaea were an even bigger mistake.

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Though he is highly erudite, Vermes argues that the human and divine saviour that is Jesus Christ is simply a mistake and that for 2000 years us Christians have got it wrong, though, perhaps he would argue, the Unitarians were closer to the historical Jesus. Vermes’ Jesus does not save.

Whatever wording you may prefer, the essence o Christianity is that

Jesus came to save

Despite Vermes’ erudition that is the claim of the New Testament , the early church up to Nicaea in 325 and right up to the present day, though there have been various departures like Servetus and the Unitarians, but these struggle to take over!

Most of the imagery of the New Testament are to stress that Jesus “came to save”. (That term “came to save” is often off-putting owing to its over-use by more fundamentalist Christians.) Those who collect Messianic labels like stamps can claim there a four hundred. The dominant one (ones) came to be ;

son of God

Saviour

Lord

In the context of the early first century  – the time of the Twelve Caesars, this can be seen as a sideswipe, or implicit rebellion, to the emperor who was often known by the exact same words, whether in Greek or Latin. So the Christians were say that the emperor was not the Son of god and not divine , nor a saviour, nor Lord, but the Galilean jobbing contractor was, or rather is, as the Christians didn’t change the saviour like underpants as did the Romans with their emperors, whenever they got a knife in their backs. The year 69 must have been amusing to Christians, though it heralded bad times.

then there is the Eastern prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

which sums up what Christian have believed for 2000 years.

But what is the evidence for Jesus?

There is some outside the New Testament but it is very terse

The first outside the church to mention Jesus was the Jewish historian  Josephus, writing in AD93 with two references to Jesus. One was suspected to be inserted by Christian scribes and the other referring to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”. Later  were Pliny and Tacitus, Tacitus says  Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was in Judaea (AD26-36)  which fits with the gospel timeline. Pliny says Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Both were almost hostile witnesses and the better for it.

Another favourite claim is that the emperor Constantine sorted out the canon, which books were in the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea in AD325. That often crops up but notably in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code which is replete with fabricated church history about Nicaea, as is seen in this meme

Da Vinci Code Facts Vs Fiction

At times, others claim the New Testament was written at Nicaea. I don’t think it was

Our friendly village atheists have conflated the writing of the New Testament books with the final formation of the Canon. This took place at Nicaea and settled on the essential 27 books. This has been accepted by the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics and protestant and evangelical off-shoots , though some eastern churches add  to the number. However it was FINALISED at Nicaea  but for 300 years Christians were trying to decide which books were to be in the canon.

There was some variation but all recognised the 4 gospels , Acts, Pauls letters and most of the other letters. They often included some of the apostolic Fathers.

Comparison between earliest biblical canons[edit] from wiki

Books Marcionite canon[39] Muratorian fragment[40] Peshitta
[citation needed]
Codex Vaticanus[41] Codex Sinaiticus[42] Codex Alexandrinus[43] Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus[44]
Composition date c. 130–140 c. 170 ? c. 300–325 c. 330–360 c. 400–440 c. 450
Matthew No Probably[45] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mark No Probably[45] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Luke Marcion[46] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
John No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Acts No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Romans Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Corinthians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Corinthians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Galatians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ephesians Laodiceans[47] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Philippians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Colossians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Thessalonians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Thessalonians Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Maybe[44]
1 Timothy No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
2 Timothy No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Titus No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Philemon Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Hebrews No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
James No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 Peter No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 Peter No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
1 John No Probably[48][40] Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2 John No Maybe[48] No Yes Yes Yes Maybe[44]
3 John No Maybe[48] No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Jude No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Revelation No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
1 Clement No No No No No Yes No
2 Clement No No No No No Yes No
Shepherd of Hermas No No No No Yes No No
Epistle of Barnabas No No No No Yes No No
Apocalypse of Peter No Yes No No No No No
Book of Wisdom No Yes No No No No No

These are the “books” of the New Testament, but when were they written. Few scholars would doubt that most were written in the first Century with some letters of Paul going back to the AD40s. Some, e.g. J AS T Robinson reckon they were written before AD70 – the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Most reckon that all were written by the 90s and a few take dates up to 135. all these dates are slightly earlier than the Council of Nicaea in AD325!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible

Here is Prof John Barton of Oxford dealing with reference to the Da Vinci code

https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/how-new-testament-was-created/

There are many more

An old (1946) but still valuable book is Are the New Testament Documents reliable? By Prof F F Bruce which is here for free!! It is where I started and most of the arguments in are still valid.

You could surf and find more recent scholars saying much the same.

In the list of Canons above , the last six did not make it! Four form part of the Apostolic Fathers (1 & II Clem. Shepherd of Hermas and Epistle of Barnabas) I am glad that Barnabas didn’t make as he argues for 6000 year old creation more explicitly than in any canonical scripture. That would have upset the geologists!

As well as those four, the Apostolic Fathers contain the seven letters of Ignatius, who was executed in Rome in about AD120, and the Didache which many reckon was written in about AD50, though some extend that by 200 years. The Apostolic Fathers  are mostly from the second century C.E.  (Christ’s Era!)  and cite all NT books except Philemon and 3 John. Several of the writers cite a good 20, so they must have been well known and widely copied.

Sadly many Christians who read their Bible never look at the Apostolic Fathers and there is a fine Penguin edition. They are well worth a read.

In the second century Irenaus quoted 21 of the final 27books and the next century Origen cited a similar number

So before Nicaea there was not unanimity of the content of the canon, all accepted over 20 of the final 27. Thus the decision at Nicaea was the culmination of three centuries of sifting

I think my brief summary above, shows the wrongness of claims that the council of Nicaea made up Jesus and the New Testament! But what was Nicaea all about.

Cryptically it was whether there was ever a time when Jesus was not. Most Christians at that time insisted there was never a time when Jesus was not, but the pugnacious group, the Arians, led by Bishop Arius, insisted there was a time when Jesus was not, and that Jesus Christ was created being and not from all eternity and thus not God.  The Arians saw Jesus not as God but the son of God, Their opponents saw Him as both..

This concerned Constantine greatly as he had only recently become the sole emperor and wanted peace. Many would say his concern was his own back rather than defending Christian belief. Hence he called the Council of Nicaea   to stop divisions in the church, which he saw as liable to cause instability in the empire. and so in the summer of AD325  the council of Christian bishops was convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now İznikTurkey)  800 bishops were invited and between 250  and 320 attended.

Their aim was not to discuss the existence of Jesus as  all sides accepted the 4 Gospel accounts. Thus there all accepted the earthly life of Jesus from the Virgin birth to the Resurrection. What was at issue was the nature of the relationship of Jesus Christ to God.

(Over)Briefly the essence of the disagreement was whether Jesus was fully God – which leads to doctrine of the Trinity – Father Son and holy Spirit. The Arians argued that Jesus was a created being , but an exalted one being the Son of God. As one of the anathemas (condemnations) put it;

  But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

This hostile summary is fair as the majority believed that Jesus Christ was there before Creation, hence “there was not a time when he was not” and that he was “begotten, not made/created” and his nature was that he was “consubstantial with the Father” thus divine. And thus a little late the creed says “and was made man”. Here in the womb of Mary the pre-existent Jesus Christ, who was there before creation and thus God, was made man, which stress He is both God and Man i.e God in flesh i.e incarnate. ( A little story here. My theology professor H E W Turner (1907-1995) did not believe this when he was ordained deacon. A year later he concluded that he did and his vicar welcomed him into the catholic church!! After that he spent some years as chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford, moving to Durham in 1950. He retired in 1974 and had to sell four fantastic oak bookcases which he brought with him from Lincoln. I bought them for £50, but was too late for lunch. I still have them. Hughie was a brilliant teacher and helped me to be totally convinced that the majority at Nicaea were right!! I suppose you could say that Hughie was Arian when ordained and then moved to Nicene orthodoxy. Sensible chappie.)

The key to the argument is Christ being the saviour of humanity. No mere human could do that and thus an Arian Jesus could not ultimately be the Saviour. Only God could save and thus Jesus Christ as Saviour could not be a created being but was God as well. Hence Nicaea re-emphasised what most of the churches had held since the resurrection that Jesus is human and divine. This comes out in the Proluge of John  (John chap 1) read at every Carol service and many other parts of the New Testament and is the thread, with Jesus’s death and resurrection, which runs through the 27 books.

This is, of course, contrary to what any hold, including among many worshippers, that Christianity is simply being good to others. It most definitely is, but if that is all and Jesus as Saviour, Lord and Son of God who died and rose to save humanity is quiwtly side-lined under a vague devotion  all that is left is MTD (Moralistic Therapeutic Deism)

Here’s the Nicene Creed. On the left is that produced in AD325 with a dismissal of Arius. On the right is how it was revised in AD381 nd is what is used in churches today. The ideas go back to the New Testament and were not plucked out thin air in 325.

We believe in one Godthe Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, [God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; by whom all things were made;
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heavenand sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead. ;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Ghost. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.
In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

Conclusion

Like so much posted by twitting atheists this tweet is simply nonsense in every statement! The really need to improve their “research” and share material of substance rather than stuff so easily contradicted.

Yes , Jesus lived

But who was he? He lived for 30 odd years, a peripatetic teacher who got crucified – the most delightful of all Roman methods of execution.

For 2000 years Christians have said he rose from the dead and came to save us.

That’s enough for now.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Happy Christmas rather than Happy Holidays

Creationists diss Climate Change. Snowballs from “Is Genesis history?”

Well, Creationists from “Is Genesis History?” are giving reasons why we should not worry about climate change.

Here it is in a short blog showing their arguments to be dubious and duplicitous and thus misleading their flock. It also shows how bad science or pseudoscience can lead to bad ethical decisions – here on climate mitigation.

Before you read this, here is an account of Evangelicals and climate Change taking the story up tp 2010, so is now rather out-dated https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/evangelicals-and-climate-change-1990-to-2011/

So here is there blog from the glaciers of Washington State;

https://isgenesishistory.com/reason-no-one-worry-about-climate-change/?fbclid=IwAR0SnsFm3YqgFE6BsxBIuk0bIYQjLXedm8JDlRc8fyR6aKGZo6lJYUmQER4

Part is all about a winter’s visit to the glaciers of Washington state and Vardiman and Purifoy use that backdrop to play down climate change. Read the whole article, which is like a cosy chat with some dubious ideas thrown in.

I reproduce their dubious ideas and then show why they are flawed both in their explicit comments and what is implicit.

Del, Larry, and the other guys in our crew had donned their snow shoes and were slowly making their way to the passage we had dug out. I was amazed to see them climb up, put one foot on the snow…and not sink in! Del, who is from Colorado, chuckled at my comments about snowshoes: he had spent years using them and knew how necessary they were in deep snow.

It was an incredibly beautiful day. The snow flurried a bit in morning, then the clouds cleared away and the sun came out. The ice on the glacier literally shone with a blue light. It was amazing.

I love the mountains of Washington but have only climbed Mt St Helens in October 2009. Many are covered in glaciers and what is most evident is that these glaciers are receding.  No mention is made of  retreating glaciers. This has been considerable in the last century and in itself indicates a warming temperature, whether the warming is natural of not. This is a useful article and shows some of the changes in Washington State where there visiting.

I enjoyed seeing the new glacier on Mt St Helens in 2009

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Here is an article on Washington glaciers

https://glaciers.us/glaciers.research.pdx.edu/Glaciers-Washington.html

During the Ice Ages much more of the Rockies were glaciated right down to New Mexico. The evidence for glaciation is clear above Taos around Wheeler Peak.

227To put a spanner in the works this photo looking north from Wheeler Peak NM is either of a rock glacier, or a short-lived glacier from the Little Ice Age, i.e. about the 18th century.  I’d like to go back and check it out.

Surely not mention glacial retreat is rather selective and shows at least an unconscious bias? Or conscious?

Virtually all glaciers have receded in the northern hemisphere since about 1815 with the end of the Little Ice Age. I have seen many examples in the Alpes

As we settled in to listen to Larry and Del, I was absolutely fascinated. Larry explained the cause of the Ice Age and how it related to the unusual atmospheric conditions in the world immediately after the global flood.

This begs so many questions. Larry admits to an Ice Age, but then fails to say the the Ice Ages started 2 million years ago and there have been a whole succession of Ice Ages and warmer periods . This has been gradually worked out and in Britain the main period is the Late Devensian reaching a maximum 18,000 years ago.  This carved out most of the glacial features in British mountains. Later, there was a smaller glaciation  – the loch Lomond Stadial, which was a short cold spell and resulted in much less glaciation, often leaving smaller moraines where the previous glaciation had been active.

Larry is showing a conscious bias by not mentioning the wider context.

When the Ice Age(s) were discovered it was almost assumed there was only one Ice Age and not a succession. Agassiz and Charpentier were there first to discover the Ice Age in the 1830s in Switzerland. When Buckland visited Switzerland in 1838 Agassiz convinced him of the Ice Age and then on a visit and tour of Northern England and Scotland Agassiz, Lyell

Louis Agassiz: Overview of Louis Agassiz180px-charles_lyell

and Buckland demonstrated that Britain too had an Ice Age. They found their first proof in  a drumlin between Lancaster and my house in Garstang. They also challenged Darwin’s blunder at Glen Roy.

The following October Buckland and Sopwith went to Snowdonia in appalling weather and identified the main glacial features there. (picture of Buckland here often wrongly claimed to be of Mary Anning!)

BucklandRhydDdu1841

In june 1842 Darwin checked out Buckland’s work and concurred! He found various glacial troughs which could not have been formed by piddly little streams!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a re-enactment (almost) as it was sketched by de la Beche in 1831

BucklandArchiveCauseEffect002

Darwin made much of these boulders found in Cwm Idwal

DSCF0977

To read more see https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/

To most geologists this was the final draining of the Flood, but in some illegible notes Buckland argued that the Flood was a result of all the ice melting.

However there have been several sets of Ice Ages during geological time with five significant ice ages throughout the Earth’s history: the Huronian (2.4-2.1 billion years ago), Cryogenian (850-635 million years ago), Andean-Saharan (460-430 mya), Karoo (360-260 mya) and Quaternary (2.6 mya-present). Approximately a dozen major glaciations have occurred over the past 1 million years, the largest of which peaked 650,000 years ago and lasted for 50,000 years. The most recent glaciation period, often known simply as the “Ice Age,” reached peak conditions some 18,000 years ago before giving way to the interglacial Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago.

The Cryogenian is often known as Snowball  Earth as it seems the whole planet was covered in ice. I was lucky enough to work on the Numees glaciation of Cryogenian age in South Africa , at a time when its glacial basis was questioned. What convinced me were dropstones falling into varved sediments. I have also seen Ordovician glaciation in rocks of the Howgill Fells of Northern England.

So much for a summary of standard glacial geology, so back to the specious nonsense from these expert geologists of “Is Genesis History?”

i am simply gobsmacked by his suggestion of “the unusual atmospheric conditions in the world immediately after the global flood.” There is simply no evidence. Further the last great diluvial geologist, William Buckland, argued that the Flood was the result of melting ice from the Ice Age. He was not far off.

I’d love to know what these supposed atmospheric conditions actually are!! It may sound convincing to those who are aware there was an Ice Age but little more! It is simply duplicitous bullshit.

This led to an explanation of current concerns about climate change, and how they are the result of a deep confusion about earth history.

WHAT!!!! This just dismisses earth history in a throw away comment.  It is simply absurd to say there is “deep confusion about earth history” when earth history is so well known and understood and has been for over two centuries. The deep time of earth history goes back further than the Periodic Table and even Dalton’s atomic theory and predates Phlogiston! Geology was on the right track before chemistry!!

This is a duplicitous way of getting ill-informed readers to believe that earth history is unfounded and thus “Is Genesis History?” s claim of a 10,000 year old earth is correct.

By casting Climate Change as a result of confusion over earth history, doubts are implied about climate Change and the unreliable arguments and claims about it.

Duplicitous is not the right description of this. The wording is vague but is intended to lead readers into thinking that Climate Change is not happening and thus is of no concern.

There is no doubt that Climate Change is happening and that much/most of caused by humans and is have a bad effect of the whole planet and the conditions many people live under.

He then moved to the question of ice cores and explained how they actually point to a major catastrophe in the past.

Really? I’d love to see the evidence for that. This is another unsubstantiated throwaway comment, which the less-informed will take as indicating a Flood in the past.

This is a must-see video if you want to dispel the concerns and hysteria that have overwhelmed so many people today concerning climate change.

This is cleverly and deceitfully put as if concerns about Climate Change are to be equated with the hysteria which some come out with. We need to see firstly the reality of issues of Climate Change  and thus of dangers  as well as hysteria, which is whipped up by some, including school truants wanting you to panic.

Only a fool would deny the seriousness of Climate Change and the need for carefully thought-ought action and mitigation

The concerns are real. The amount of CO2 has doubled in my lifetime and it is clear that world temperature is rising.

Without going into details CO2 and CH4 emissions must be reduced. Not all agree on how that should be done. Often the emphasis is on governmental level action, with insufficient on the sum of actions of individuals.    ???

Too often Climate Change is considered above all other environmental issues, and then only in relation to fossil fuels. The more extreme wish only renewables (which are insufficient) a rapid  disengagement with fossils and an refusal to use nuclear power. As we see in the energy crisis of late 2021 this will result in fuel poverty and associated deaths as winter draws in.

There also needs to be consideration of more “natural” solutions; tree-planting (but only the right trees in the right places!), restoration of wetlands (peat bogs), inter-tidal zones  as well as shallow seas. There will need to be changes in agriculture and not necessarily those put forward by activists like Vandana Shiva!!

Here is a useful article from an Oxford/Oriel professor

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-10-11-natural-world-critical-climate-professor-yadvinder-malhi

What I wrote previously are the real concerns of Climate Change which need addressing.

There is also the hysteria.

This comes out with protesting youngsters holding up placards “You will die of old age, we will die of climate change.”

That is due to extreme green groups whipping up hysteria and over-egging the problems so that all seems apocalyptic. It is seen when founders of Extinction Rebellion untruthfully say billions will die of climate change.

It comes out with school kids write of their fears of the future and creating eco-anxiety. Certain truants from school add to this hysteria, along with some scintists, who let their activism guide what they say.

This is not helped by activists slating others and being quick to dismiss the unhysterical as climate deniers. There are some climate deniers but many of the so-called deniers don’t buy into the hysteria.

Here the right buttons of the Creationist audience are pressed and with carefully crafted dismissal, Creationists are liable to reject the essential truth of Climate Change and the need for action by implying it is simply hysteria.

If you’d like to learn more about creationist ideas concerning the Ice Age, I recommend two books by Mike Oard, another scientist who worked closely with Larry Vardiman: The Frozen Record (on ice cores) and Frozen in Time (on the Ice Age).

https://creation.com/michael-j-oard

Oard’s arguments for an Ice Age lasting only a few hundred years are simply poor and also depend on the rejection of geological Time and the previous four glaciations going back two billion years. I wonder how he ties the Cryogenian into a Genesis timescale. Maybe it was after Cain murdered Abel!!!

For more information on climate change, consult The Cornwall Alliance. (Sign up for their emails – they are fantastic!)

Actually they are fantastical and have no grounding in reality.

Dr. Vardiman’s full interview is included in Beyond Is Genesis History? Vol 1 Rocks & Fossils. The topics he talks about are extremely important to understanding what happened after Flood.

Conclusion
This blog from “Is Genesis history?” is written to persuade readers that Climate Change is not happening and uses dubious arguments to get that across.
I hope my comments make it clear why they are so very, very, very wrong and , in fact, rather duplicitous. It says little for the skills of the “scientists” behind “Is Genesis history?”
Jer 17 vs9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Climate Change is real, it is here and needs mitigation.
(we may disagree on how to mitigate it!!)

Finding our strength and our way at a time of great loss

This blog is dedicated to my late wife Andrea and our close friends Ian and Joan.  the heart is a sermon gave a Joan’s funeral two years before she died.

When life is going well and with no one ill in the family, we forget that death is at the end of it, and perhaps just round the corner. And so we put death out of our minds.

Except at the death, or serious illness, of someone very close, we often feel far removed from death and consider the Christian teaching on death and resurrection, whether that of Jesus or ourselves, in an abstract, detached and theoretical way. We can discuss it in the same way as we might present the first three minutes of the existence of the universe after the Big Bang. We can consider the empty tomb, the nature of the resurrection body of Jesus and the teaching in I Corinthians 15, but it is more in our minds than our hearts.

Even at Easter, we as Christians often fail to see the full force of the resurrection of Jesus, both in itself and as the foretaste of ours. Our churches may even want to see it as a reason for a party and use machines to blow bubbles – yes, that happened at a parish church this Easter –  and thus trivialise the almost unbelievable nature of the resurrection. Sadly I joke not. Easter is far more than blowing bubbles.  Too often we simply re-iterate the biblical teachings of I Corinthians 15, Romans 6 vs 3-11, Philippians 2 vs5-11, I Peter 1vs3-9 and the resurrection accounts of the four Gospels. The teaching may be sound, but is often too theoretical. I am as guilty as anyone on this. It is easy to repeat this quote of Nigel Biggar but less easy to grasp it

“A metaphorical resurrection is really not of much help to beings whose death is no metaphor.”

However if the resurrection did not happen then we, as Christians, have fallen for a scam.

This year I could no longer consider death and resurrection in a detached way. Andrea, my wife of nearly 48 years, died after two traumatic weeks in hospital when no visiting was allowed, and due to her deafness communication by phone (or with nursing staff)  was almost impossible. We were unable to see each other until shortly before she died when she was unconscious. I shall not dwell on this as it was the most painful period of my life which was made worse by problematic phone calls from Andrea during the previous week as well.

For her funeral, under lockdown limitations, we decided on the hymns Thine be the Glory and We rest on Thee (one of our wedding hymns) with Andrea being taken out of the church to You’ll never walk alone, which was more apt than one might think, as she was a Liverpool supporter, as well as a Jesus supporter. These were fantastically sung by the son of a very close friend, accompanied by her sister, my god-daughter. This made the coldness of a lockdown funeral very up-lifting.

For readings we chose Ps 23, Ps121 and John 14 vs 1-7 as she left no formal instructions. These were chosen as they are rightfully those which often come to the fore as they distil so much of the gospel into a few words.

Some time later, when sorting out things, I found the sermon my wife gave two years before she died at the funeral of our friend’s mother. It was tear-jerking to read it and uncanny as here she was preaching at a funeral expounding the same portions of scripture we chose for hers. I have  spoken on Ps121, my favourite psalm,

I lift my eyes to the hills –

from whence will my help come?

P1050312

Looking up unto Pen y Ghent, in the Yorkshire Dales which was the first mountain I climbed after Andrea died.

and John 14 vs 1 -7 many times, but here I will let Andrea speak just two years before she died.

joanpage1

Joanpage2

joanpage3

Joanpage4

As you see, she was a very neat writer.

Rather than say more I dedicate this to the memory of Joan, Andrea and Ian and to give hope to their families. At little note, Andrea’s first name on both her birth and baptism certificates was Joan, but being born on St Andrew’s Day, she changed it to Andrea.

I hope that it also brings home the resurrection to all who read this.

A photographic postscript.

Joan and Fred spent many holidays with their children at Hawkshead from where the fantastic mountain The Old Man of Coniston was often visible.

The Old Man was the first Lakeland mountain I climbed after losing Andrea, and these photos have a double reference.

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Two Herdwick sheep looking towards Hawkshead from the Old Man of Coniston evoking both Ps 23 and Ps 121

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This is the winding path from Weatherlam to Swirl How on the Old Man of Coniston with its sinuosity, obstacles and final steep climb reminding us of John 14  when Jesus said “I am the Way.”

There is always new life as these bog asphodel and butterwort show, struggling for life by the path on the descent of the Old Man. Wild flowers have helped me so much over the last few months.

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Butterwort and sundew

New life literally flowers in harsh conditions as do these moorland bog plants of Butterwort, Sundew and Bog Asphodel found on the soggy lowers slopes of Helvellyn a few weeks later. Most walk past them. But as Jesus said “I am the life” to us even when we are totally bogged down.

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Bog Asphodel 

“Not even Solomon in his glory was dressed like one of these.” Matthew 6 vs29

And the way – (a path through bog asphodel)

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I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.

From Lead kindly light by John Henry Newman

Was Jesus a racist? Some say “Yes”.

Did the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 teach Jesus not to be racist? | Psephizo

This story in Mark’s gospel is one of the oddest in the Gospels. On a plain, literal reading Jesus comes over as a racist and some progressive types  (maybe re- not pro-) reckon the lady taught Jesus a lesson on racism and CRT. Mary should have done that!!

Here Ian Paul discusses it at length and points out the shortcomings of a progressive reading. Similar and equally fallacious accusations are made about Jesus knocking the Jews in John’s gospel. Jesus was a Jew  (unless you are a Nazi) and he was criticising Jewish authorities not Jews.

The passage from Mark 7 is a tricky one and Jesus appears downright rude and discriminatory.

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 
25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 
26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 
27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 
28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 
29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 
30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Feeding food to dogs is essentially feeding Gentiles. Now was Jesus racist against Gentiles like most Jews, or what was he doing? Ian Paul discusses this well.

an insight from my daughter is that Jesus held up a mirror to society and reflected Jewish beliefs, hence his sharp comments. There is irony here, but a mirror hen would be polished copper or silver and not iron 🙂

I can imagine his hearers were confused and had questions, especially after hearing the girl was cured.

Recently the black Conservative commentator and Anglican ordinand, was called a house negro but a POC. Not very nice. And so I rephrase Mark 7 to a plantation!

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of South Carolina. He entered a large house on a plantation and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman (one of the plantation housekeepers, a house negro) whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a housekeeper. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and give it to house negroes.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the house negros eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Forget what I wrote and read what Ian wrote

Source: Did the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 teach Jesus not to be racist? | Psephizo

Was Jesus black? | Psephizo

I loath the old Sunday School pictures of Jesus portraying him as a white wimp in a nightie. I cannot stand Holman hunt’s painting either.

The Light of the World (painting) - Wikipedia

It’s far too sentimental.

Too often Jesus is/was portrayed as white ( and often wimpish) overlooking the fact that he was a middle easterner and thus had a dark complexion.  When living in Apartheid south Africa I enjoyed pointing out that Jesus wasn’t white and would have been classified in one of the varieties of nie-blanke. Not all aprecciated it!!

In this blog Ian Paul discusses contemporary views, especially in the light of BLM. He does it well but not all will like it – for the opposite reasons my comments on Jesus’ colour in South Africa were not liked. He is critical of those who wish to make Jesus out to be black. He was not and we may say God wisely chose Jesus to be an intermediate shade, thus representing all people of whatever ethnicity or colour.

Enough of me and read his blog;

Source: Was Jesus black? | Psephizo

Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis

So often thinkers and activists of the past are co-opted for projects today which would make them turn in their graves.

C.S. Lewis | Biography, Books, Mere Christianity, Narnia, & Facts |  Britannica

Here Steve Hayes shows how the libertarian right of the USA are trying to co-opt C S Lewis for the weird right-wing semi-Trumpism.
In the USA many have tried to claim Lewis as a good conservative evangelical – when he was not – he was simply a sensible Anglican from a time when Anglicans were sensible!!

On a personal note I met Steve in Windhoek in 1969 while I was working for a mining company. At that time he was a radical Anglican priest who later got banned. He is now orthodox.

Study the post and consider how often we twist historical personages for our own ends

Notes from underground

I recently read a couple of articles that appear to me to be attempts to co-opt C.S. Lewis for the cause of American Libertarianism.

C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism, Part 1:

In comparison to contemporary ‘progressive’ Christians such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who clamor for the foolish and disastrous notion of achieving ‘social justice’ through gigantic government powers, was Lewis just ignorant or naive about modern realities, or was he aiming at a deeper and more significant purpose? (See Robert Higgs’s book refuting the ‘progressive’ myth in American history, Crisis and Leviathan, and his book on the disastrous ‘progressive’ state since 1930, Depression, War, and Cold War; see also Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s The Decline of American Liberalism and The Civilian and the Military, and Jonathan Bean’s Race and Liberty in America.) In this article, I only…

View original post 2,002 more words

How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

Source: How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

On 22 April 2021 the Church of England published its report on racism in the Church of England – “From Lament to Action”. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/FromLamentToAction-report.pdf

This came about in the wake of the protests headed by Black Lives Matter in Britain in 2020.

The report is critical of the Church of England over racism and has evinced various responses, favourable and unfavourable.

An example of the former is one on the implications for theological education by Prof Mike Higton of Durham https://mikehigton.org.uk/theological-education-in-from-lament-to-action/

Dr Ian Paul aka Psephizo has given a response which draws on opinions of BAME christians, some of which are very critical. These raise questions whether the recommended actions are wise or advisable. Ian in his conclusions also raises doubts about the recommended policy, which I share.

For myself I do reckon that some of the past of the church has been poor, especially the lack of welcome for Caribbean Christians 60 to 70 years ago. That was the time when landlords would put up notices saying “No coloured welcome”. Things have improved. I would also suggest that there is an unexpressed racism in our pews, which comes out at times. That is from my observations and hearing.

I reckon this report leans too far towards Critical Race Theory and agree with the strictures of Calvin Robinson (an ordinand) and  Joseph Diwakar, who is on the Archbishops’ Council.

Now read the article https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/how-should-the-church-respond-to-race/

April Fool’s Jesus? | Psephizo

As it’s April Fool’s Day , I guess some have tried a joke on others, or fallen for one.

Here Ian Paul presents Jesus as an April fool from God as Jesus and all he stands for is so contrary to everything else.

Or as Paul says, “The foolishness of god is wiser than human wisdom”.

The life of Brian never quite got it either!!

Source: What sort of fool is this Jesus? | Psephizo

Has the Church of England gone Creationist in Live Lent?

Surely the Church of England is far too liberal to think the earth is only 6000 years old.

Most would respond to that question by saying, “don’t be so daft!” After all in many ways the CofE is somewhat liberal both in belief and ethics. The church has many who have held fast to evolution; Gore, Temple and others in the 19th century, most theologians in the 20th century, and more recently theologians with scientific training – notably Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne and Alister McGrath and many other lesser fry, like myself! If anything is the default position of the Church of England, it is one which accepts a 4.56 billion year old earth and life which has been evolving for the last 4 billion years. But against that about 5% vicars are Creationist. and lots of churchmembers are a bit confused. and not a few clergy!

So what is this article doing as part of the Church of England’s Lent Live?

It takes the NRSV translation of Romans 8 vs 19, 22-23, with an odd omission of verses 20 to 21, and then comments on the passage, claiming that 

” the whole creation has somehow been infected, and fallen under the influence of darkness.”

Now, that is just how Creationists argue from their ideas of a 6000 year old earth and no evolution, as they reckon when Adam bit the apple, God put a Curse on Creation, making it Fallen and thus death, illness and earthquakes began. 

Consider the image and brief article. The image just gives the biblical text but the article reflects on it.

Image

And so the reflection;

The reflection is very brief, as is needed for short thoughts for Lent, it is difficult to see how they find their comments in the extract from St Paul. It raises many questions on whether the article actually reflects Paul and his teachings in his letter to the Romans. And whether it has any Christian basis………………….

The second paragraph doesn’t refer to Romans but makes an extraordinary claim about the Gospel story;

“The Gospel story doesn’t merely talk about individual human sin and weakness, difficult enough although those things are. It goes on to claim that because of our collective selfishness and distance from God the whole creation has somehow been infected, and fallen under the influence of darkness.”

This totally baffles me as I cannot think on anywhere in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John which either says of implies this. At best, they may look to John with his “cosmos” as opposed to God, but there John normally uses “cosmos” to mean humanity in opposition to God and not the whole creation, as in John 3 vs16. In other words this statement is just wrong.

It does seem that the writer takes a particular interpretation of this passage from Romans as looking to the Fall of Genesis 3 – or rather that God inflicted a curse on the whole of creation because of Adam’s sin. That seems a bit harsh. It is NOT the teaching of almost all Anglican theologians, but is what Young Earth Creationists teach about the Fall and the curse, in which animal pain and suffering, and earthquakes and tsunamis were inflicted by God on creation AFTER Adam ate the apple! It seems rather harsh to curse the whole of creation for Adam’s deed.

This idea, though largely and correctly rejected today, has a long history going back to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and has resulted in a misreading of creation in Genesis.

Further the quote from C S Lewis does not speak of creation but of human behaviour. Citing it here implies that Creation is enemy-occupied territory , whereas Lewis meant so much of human behaviour, which rang true in the war years.

How can one say “The Whole creation has somehow been infected and fallen under the power of darkness?”

Granted humans have made a mess of this planet but what infection is there in the rest of the Solar System. ; for example in Venus, Jupiter, or the Sun? The idea becomes even more absurd when we consider further stars and galaxies. On a starlit night just look out at stars and consider how we have infected the stars of the Great Bear or Orion – if we have! Or closer at home consider the beauty of Nature/Creation around you.

image

This kind of writing sounds all very good and spiritually challenging – until we ask how and when it all happened! If we do that, then we will see it as vague gnostic woffle, which is soothing to our feelings but not to our soul – or it is an argument for Young Earth Creationism, with its curse on the whole of creation.

Romans 8 vs19-23 is a baffling passage and many, and perhaps most, commentators see it as an allusion to Gen 3 and the Fall permeating all creation. If so, they need to see Paul’s theology they present here is nonsensical as the Universe in 13 billion years old and Adam’s scrumping did not affect the universe!! Unless of course, you are a Creationist and endorse a curse and a young earth!!

The idea or FACT of an ancient universe is not new, and goes back well over two centuries. By 1800 astronomers and geologists had demonstrated that both universe and earth were – then reckoned only to be millions of years old. With all the fossils it was clear that life was ancient too and thus the idea held by some theologians that the Creation was not what God intended it to be was way off the mark. To suggest that humans are to blame is simply absurd! Though that is the reading of John Milton in Paradise Lost.

Humans have stuffed up Planet Earth, but not in that sense. Too many theological writers are careless about this and one bishop recently wrote “the whole creation, in its original unfallen state….” meaning that the creation as we now experience is now fallen and originally was not. The bishop should have said when the creation transitioned from “unfallen” to “fallen”. This kind of poor thinking tends to make Christianity incredible.

This understanding of Romans 8 vs 19-23 Turns on the meaning of the greek word ktisis used here, which is commonly translated as “Creation”. Ktisis has a variety of meanings as brought out in any decent Greek lexicon. It can mean the whole creation or simply the mass of humanity. The latter makes better sense in Romans 8, as it does in Mark 16 vs15 (longer ending) If these are words of Jesus , did he mean the whole creation and to preach the gospel in the vicinity of Sirius or Betelgeuse? I don’t think so, do you? Otherwise you’ll preach to dogs and cats and birds and bees. He means to every human as we find in the Post-resurrection commands as presented by Matthew and Luke. (see Day 28 for a reflection on Matthew 28)

For details read;

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/mis-reading-romans-chapter-8/

This reading is common today with our very justified concern for the environment today. There is no question about humany’s environmental damage to this earth , which I have held since reading Silent Spring in the 1960s. This has happened in so many different ways; Pollution, species loss, climate change and damage from careless mining , development, including fishing and farming.

This contribution for LIVELENT was, I think, written to make us care more for the environment, and we need to.

It is vital to care for creation (what have you done for creation today?) but misreading Paul is not the way to argue for it.

Were Joseph and Mary ‘poor’? no, they were comfortable!! | Psephizo

So often we are told that Jesus was born into a poverty-stricken family.

There’s only one snag.

They weren’t.

By the standards of their day Joseph and Mary were moderately well off but no more. But by our standards they were poor and Jesus should have had a 50-50 chance of living until he was five.

Here Ian Paul challenges the romanticising of the Holy family as poor

They possibly lived in a house like this

Jesus' House? 1st-Century Structure May Be Where He Grew Up | Live Science

It’s a good read.

Source: Were Joseph and Mary ‘poor’? | Psephizo