I’d be looking forward to 2020…

…but my vision’s rather poor. My hindsight isn’t even that good.

Today in the City of David an Eternal Present was Unveiled

Today is the day we celebrate the birth1 of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,2 Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.3

A bit over two millennia ago, the eternal Word4 became the eternal-temporal Theanthrōpos,5 the God-man.6 God loved the world so much that He provided His one, unique Son7 as a sacrifice for us all, by ‘lifting Him up’ on the cross,8 so that everyone who believes in Him would not  perish, but would gain eternal life,9 adopted as God’s children.10 This entrance into eternality begins the very moment of initial belief11 and remains for those enduring until the end.12

This day we should, in reverential awe, commemorate this glorious, eternally present,13 eternal gift.14 We should remember this selfless, sacrificial gift15 every day—but especially today. Those temporal gifts we give and receive—largely in celebrations overshadowing the true meaning of this season, this day—those temporal gifts we exchange, some by compulsion, will perish. But not this gift. This gift, available to all, has already been given—at such cost!16 The Giver of this gift is Himself the Gift,17 Who seemingly perished forevermore after being crucified.18 Yet He rose again!19 And He lives yet still.20

But this gift is more of an exchange—though a very one-sided one at that. To receive the gift of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement21—in which He has already paid the due penalty for all mankind’s sins past, present, and future22—the recipient must repent,23 turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior,24 and then ‘take up one’s cross daily’.25 This means obeying Jesus’ commandments26 and following His path, to the point of physical death, if necessary.27 However, even if following Christ directly results in temporal death (which is an inevitable eventuality whether following Him or not) one receives the much more valuable eternal life. Yet, even more, as part of this exchange one receives God’s indwelling Spirit28—the Holy Spirit, the paraklētos,29 the Spirit of Truth30—in Whom one possesses both the compass to navigate and the strength to endure His pathway.

Yet Jesus’ requirements are not burdensome.31 When the Christ-follower inevitably sins32—and one easily does so when living by one’s own strength rather than by and in the Spirit33—He is quick to forgive the penitent.34

To those who believe in and follow the Messiah, His Resurrection guarantees this eternal present;35 but, it was the conception36 and subsequent birth37 of the Eternal-temporal38 providing the necessary precursor. As Christians, as Christ-followers, let us remember this day for the momentous and joyous occasion it was and is: the arrival of the Gospel in the Gift wrapped in strips of cloth lying in a manger.39 To those with opened eyes He was unveiled.40 To the blind He remained veiled, but to those blind subsequently receiving sight He was revealed.41

Let us not be side-tracked by the temporality of contemporary glitz and glamour. Let us not take this day for granted. Let us take it to heart. Let us take its inherent message to the outer extremities.42 Let us be God’s instruments through which this Gift is unveiled, blind eyes opened.

The world awaits.43

———————-

1 It is very unlikely, though, that December 25 is the actual day Jesus was born.
2 Luke 2:10-11.
3 John 1:41; 4:25.
4 John 1:1.
5 From Theos = God, anthrōpos = man.
6 John 1:14.
7 John 1:14; 3:16.
8 John 3:14 (cf. Numbers 21:8-9); John 12:32-33.
9 John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4; 1John 4:9-10.
10 John 1:12.
11 John 5:24-25.
12 Matthew 24:13; Revelation 14:12.
13 John 1:1-2; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3.
14 Revelation 13:8; cf. Revelation 17:8. There is ambiguity in the syntax of the Greek in 13:8. Is it that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (KJV, NIV, e.g.), or is it that certain names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (ESV, NASB, e.g.)? One could harmonize this with the words whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world from 17:8 to resolve this, yet it seems difficult to have a book of life without the Life Giver’s substitutionary atonement (Hebrews 2:17) having been provided first. So maybe both are true? Resolution is not even found in John the Baptizer’s words regarding the “Lamb of God” in John 1:29, for the verb airōn, takes away, is a present active participle, which grammatically indicates durative action, but the temporal reference is unclear. Is it yet-future from the Baptizer’s words, or is John stating that it is already in effect? Tangentially, this verb airō can connote being taken ‘up’ simultaneously with taken away, which can provide a bit of—likely intended—double entendre. In other words, sins are taken up/away as He is taken up/away. This double meaning likely applies—unknowingly by the speakers and in ironical fashion with the benefit of hindsight—in John 19:15 when “the Jews” (hoi Ioudaioi) responded to Pilate’s statement “Here is your king!” with aron aron, staurōson auton, “Take up/away, take up/away; crucify him!” Their command resulted in Him being glorified (John 12:23; 13:31-32; 17:1) and thereby receiving the name above every name (Philippians 2:9-11).
15 Philippians 2:5-8.
16 Hebrews 2:9-18; 4:15. Each and every one of us—at and beyond the age of accountability, at the least—has played his/her part in lifting Him up on that cross.
17 John 11:25; 14:6.
18 Matthew 27:48-50; Mark 15:36-37; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30.
19 Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-8[20]; Luke 24:1-49; John 2:19-22; 10:17-18; 20:1-31; 1Corinthians 15:1-4.
20 Revelation 1:18.
21 Hebrews 2:14-18.
22 Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 9:11-15, 26-28; 10:12, 19-24.
23 Matthew 4:17; Luke 3:8-14; Acts 2:38; 3:19; Romans 2:4.
24 But this cannot be done in one’s own strength; see the words of Jesus in John 6:44: No one is able to come to Me unless the Father, the One Who sent Me, draws him[/her]. See also John 6:65.
25 Matthew 10:38-39; 16:24-26; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23-24; 14:27; John 12:25-26.
26 Matthew 4:17; 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; John 8:31-32; 13:34/15:12; 15:10; James 2:8-11; 1John 5:3.
27 See What did Jesus mean when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me”?
28 John 3:3-8; 14:17; Romans 8:15-17; 1Corinthians 2:12; 3:16; 6:19; 2Corinthians 6:16.
29 John 14:15-16:15; Acts 1:8; 2:1-39; 1John 4:1-6. See also Who is the Holy Spirit?
30 John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1John 4:6; 5:6.
31 Matthew 11:28-30; 1John 5:3.
32 1John 1:8-10.
33 Galatians 5:16-26; 1John 1:6-8.
34 Hebrews 10:22-23; 1John 1:9-2:2.
35 1Corinthians 15:20-23.
36 Luke 1:34-35.
37 Luke 2:1-7.
38 John 1:1, 14.
39 Luke 2:10-12.
40 Luke 2:8-20.
41 John 9:1-41; 2Corinthians 3:14-18.
42 Matthew 28:19-20.
43 John 3:16-21, 31-36; Romans 8:18-27.

A Proper Understanding of the New Testament Text

What the authors of Myths and Mistakes insist on is that it is neither necessary nor even possible to demonstrate that we can recover the exact wording of the New Testament. But what we have is good enough.

The above words by Daniel B. Wallace are the final sentences in his Foreword to the new multi-author volume Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism (Elijah Hixson and Peter J. Gurry, eds. [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019], pp xix-xx). I received a copy a few days ago, and I may provide a more comprehensive review of it at some point (beyond what I’ve written here), once I’ve read through all its contents.

I think all Christians, most especially those involved in any sort of apologetics, should at least be somewhat acquainted with the topic of New Testament (NT) textual criticism—the discipline of attempting to determine the original Greek text (aka the autographs) of the NT, from which we translate to English and other languages. And it’s important that claims regarding the authenticity of the NT text are not exaggerated, for this will only serve to damage the cause of Christian apologetics and Christianity at large. Some who are openly hostile to the Christian faith well-know there are extant Greek NT texts that do not agree with each other, and attempts to quell this fact will only lead to charges of a lack of integrity and/or intelligence among Christians.

The cult-like fervor of King James Version-onlyists (KJVO) is particularly damaging to the Christian faith. These KJVOs stubbornly cling to either a claim of the supremacy of the Greek text underlying the KJV (the so-called Textus Receptus [TR]) and/or the supposed superiority of the King James English contained in the KJV over against all modern English (and other language) versions.1 Adherents appear to be sincere in their desire to believe that God has preserved His words in a particular manner, but in their zeal and shortsightedness they take things too far.

Such an extreme view can be misconstrued as not unlike what we would find in the ‘automatic’ writings of occult works, such as those by Alice A. Bailey, in which she openly states she was the conduit by which an entity identifying himself as Djwal Khul (aka Djwhal Khul, The Tibetan, Master D. K.) channeled his words. Hopefully, no one in Christianity/Christendom believes God provided His words in such a manner. According to the Apostle Paul, “all Scripture is God-breathed (theopneustos: from theos = God; pneustos = breath, breathe)” (2 Tim 3:16);2 moreover, according to Simon Peter, “men, borne by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21), and even Paul’s epistles are identified as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). That is, Scripture is understood to be written by men under inspiration from God, as opposed to God dictating His words to these men verbatim. In other words, these men were active participants in the writing of the Christian Holy Scriptures, as opposed to passive recipients, mere conduits. Thus, it is not imperative that we have the exact words of the NT in order to understand what God had conveyed via His messengers.

In Hixson and Gurry’s Introduction is a salient point regarding the reliability of the Greek text we do have:

…Simply put, we believe the textual evidence we have is sufficient to reconstruct, in most cases, what the authors of the New Testament wrote. We cannot do this with equal certainty, of course, and the following chapters will discuss places where doubt remains significant…Nevertheless, we do think that even the most textually corrupted of our manuscripts and editions still convey the central truths of the Christian faith with clarity and power. In every age, God has given his people a text that is more than reliable enough to know the saving work he has accomplished through Jesus Christ.3

To that I can only add, “Amen!”

_____________________________

1 The Achilles’ heel of the KJVO stance is the Johannine Comma (Latin Comma Johanneum)—interpolated verbiage found in the TR of 1 John 5:7-8 and in the corresponding English of the KJV/NKJV. See Daniel B. Wallace’s refutation of this as inspired Scripture here and here.

2 For an in-depth analysis on this one-time occurrence of this word (hapax legomenon), see George W. Knight III’s Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), pp 444-450.

3 Hixson & Gurry, Myths and Mistakes, p 20. The accompanying footnote to this passage is worth presenting here (in part): In this we agree with influential English reformer William Whitaker, who could readily concede to his Roman Catholic opponents that “the fundamental points of the faith are preserved intact in this Latin edition, if not everywhere, yet in very many places.” This despite his opponents’ claims that the Latin text had final authority, a claim Whitaker vigorously opposed.

Climocentrism: The New Geocentrism

“Trees don’t lie, but [some] climate scientists do.”
-Tony Heller (@ 8:58 of video below)

One of the most embarrassing aspects of the historical record of the Christian Church was the stubborn, persistent belief that the earth was flat and/or our solar system was geocentric. This thinking was based on misinterpretations of a number of Scriptures. But we now know (despite the assertions of a few current flat-earthers) that our solar system is heliocentric—the sun is its center—and the earth rotates on its axis as it revolves around the sun.

But despite mounting evidence, the historical Church clung to its misinterpretations rather than reinterpret those passages to align with contemporary scientific data. Something somewhat similar is occurring in the realm of climatology, though with a twist. The current ideology of “climate change” does not align with historical climatic evidence, so some climatologists simply—and deceptively—change the climate data. This puts a whole new meaning on “climate change”.

There is historical data of a Medieval Warm Period (MWP; ca. 950AD to 1250 AD), which was followed by a Little Ice Age (LIA; ca. 1300AD to 1850AD). Both tree ring data and historical evidence indicate the MWP had average temperatures exceeding those of today—well before the Industrial Age—and the LIA had average temperatures colder than the past 150 years. This casts doubt on the role of anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels in climatic changes. In fact, I’m old enough to recall that there was a growing scientific consensus in the 1970s of an impending ice age [see this 1978 video from Columbia University and (then-)leading world climate scientists, sponsored by the US Army and the National Science Foundation, narrated by Leonard Nimoy], with its causation linked to emissions from fossil fuels. But, of course, now the theory is the converse: anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing ‘global warming’! As Tony Heller deadpanned (going from my memory) in a recent video, “Fossil fuels sure are powerful.”

In Heller’s video below is a screenshot of a statement by Dr. David Deming of the University of Oklahoma College of Earth and Energy regarding the subject “Climate Change and the Media”, entered as part of U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearing Statements (12/06/2006):

I had another interesting experience around the time my paper in Science was published. I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. He said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period” [11:16 in video below].

And that’s precisely what Michael Mann did in his reconstruction of climate data. Mann minimized the heat of the MWP, minimized the cold of the LIA, and inflated recent temperatures, in order to falsely portray recent temperatures as exceeding those of the MWP, trending upwards climactically, resulting in his infamous “hockey stick” graph. You can read the background and results of the court case in which Dr. Tim Ball won Mann’s defamation suit relating to it. Ball even received all court-related costs as part of the settlement, because Mann refused to provide to the court the underlying evidence for his “hockey stick” in order to ‘prove’ his case. From the article:

Tim’s [Ball’s] famous words [were] that Michael Mann “belongs in the state pen, not Penn State,” a comical reference to the fraudulent ‘hockey stick’ graph that knowledgeable scientists knew to be fakery.

In his videos, Tony Heller has been posting actual historical data, such as from newspaper articles from across this spinning spherical earth, in order to compare with current data manipulations from climate ‘scientists’. Below is his most recent vlog. Heller provides much food for thought:

See Tony Heller’s blog for more.

“Climate Change” as Religion

Somewhat recently I shared brunch with a friend, a non-believer. She has known about my Christian faith for some time. We’ve been friends for over 15 years, and I enjoy talking with her on a variety of subjects, some controversial. We can disagree yet not be disagreeable to each other.

Because she had a nominal Catholic upbringing, she was not wholly unfamiliar with the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, I understood that, though she knew some things in the Christian Bible, she did not accept the authority of those Scriptures. Therefore, I prefaced the following statement with this understanding as a premise: I remarked how, with current technology, we have the means to impose what Scripture calls the ‘mark of the beast’ (Revelation 13:16-17) on a worldwide scale. All that is lacking is a unified political power structure to implement and mandate it.

Rather than agree this was true, she refused to engage on the subject—because she didn’t believe in the Scriptures. Though I could not understand how one must necessarily believe in Scripture in toto in order to engage in a general conversation about one aspect of it, we finally just acknowledged (though we both knew this well-beforehand) that she did not share my faith-belief—this hyphenated term one of my choosing.

Subsequent to this, I remarked how most everyone has an opinion on “climate change”, aka anthropogenic [man-made] global warming (AGW), yet most everyone lacks the requisite knowledge base to form an informed opinion on this matter. I noted that there is some info available online that the motivated layperson could read to become more acquainted with the particulars—material that goes beyond the sound bites one hears on corporate media. Without providing any sort of reasoning or affirming whether or not she read any such material, she proclaimed her belief in “climate change.” I told her I agreed that the climate is always changing, but that that is not the same thing as “climate change” (AGW). I asked her to provide some reasoning, some substance behind her stance (and I was quite ready to do same). She said something to the effect, if not verbatim: “I just believe it’s true.”

I replied, “So that’s your faith-belief?”

She cocked her head a bit, and with a quasi-grin and raised eyebrows gave me one of those looks

A World of Difference

Since presently I seem unable to finish the various articles I’m working on (some of which require quite extensive research before publishing), I’ll post lyrics to a song I like, from one of my favorite albums (154), by one of my favorite bands in the ‘Rock’ genre, namely WIRE.

Blessed State

(B. C. Gilbert)

Closing doors
Opens eyes
To the fatal gift
Of a well-timed lie
Loved in the flesh
And (but) butchered in the mind
Oh what a pearl
What a well-made world

Holy globe
Eternal home
Sacred sphere
So glad I’m here
Oh what a pearl
What a well-made world

1979 EMI Records, Ltd/Carlin Music Corp.

The original version of this song can be heard here:

Missing Pieces

I’m struck by this poem. It was written by Joe Walsh as part of a song he composed titled “County Fair,” found on his album So What.

Found an old puzzle somebody had quit
Tried a few pieces and hoped that they’d fit
But they’re going together so slowly
It may take me forever to know
If it’s only a puzzle

Parts of the puzzle will never be found
And even though pieces are gone
It’s a county fair picture, part of me’s there
Some of the pieces are still at the fair
And they may be forever

1974, ABC Records, New York, NY; Barnstorm Music/BMI.