All posts tagged: Bible

Artists portrayal of Nero's persecution of Christians by Heinrich von Siemiradzki (1843-1902): Wikipedia

How Tacitus’ contradiction of the Biblical record actually confirms the Bible

Roman senator and orator Tacitus (55AD-118AD) is considered one of the great ancient historians. He wrote a number of books, and in his last work entitled Annals he had a couple of paragraphs about Jesus and the Christians. Though small, these two citations pack a wallop because they provide various confirmations about the Biblical account and even one contradiction that actually proves the Bible’s accuracy of events. Tacitus was providing a brief history about the Roman Emperor Nero (37AD – 67AD) and because of this felt compelled to give an explanation about Christians and Christ as they played a role in the Great Fire of Rome (July 18-23 64 AD). Many Romans believed Nero purposefully set the fire as part of his grandiose plan to rebuild Rome. To deflect the blame, Tacitus said Nero accused Christians of arson: [neither] human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered [by Nero]. Therefore, to put down the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits and punished …

Church in Iceland Credit: washingtonnydc/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey shows believing the Bible the key to church growth

According to survey by researchers in Ontario, Canada, churches with Conservative, Bible-based theology are the fastest growing of Christian churches. In fact, the membership numbers for churches that have rejected a literal interpretation of the Bible are in a free fall. According to the English newspaper, The Guardian, attendance at liberal mainline churches in Canada has dropped by 50% since the 1960s and in England Sunday attendance at the largely liberal Church of England has fallen by a similar percentage since the 1980s. The research team led by David Haskell described those with a “conservative Protestant theology” as the “clear winner.” In their report entitled “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Churches” the group surveyed 2,225 people attending churches in Ontario and conducted more in-depth interviews with 195 church attendees and 29 clergy. According to The Guardian, while studies in the past concluded that theology had no impact on church growth, this survey showed it clearly did. Haskell noted that growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and …

Ein Gedi Leviticus scroll. Credit: Dr. Brent Seales

Ancient Leviticus text reveals the accuracy of the Bible

Using a process called ‘virtual unwrapping,’ scientists were able to read the the text on a parchment destroyed in an ancient synagogue that burned down in 600 AD. The parchment was inside a box called the Holy Ark used by Synagogues to store Biblical scrolls. The scrolled parchment made up of five layers was found in 1970 in a synagogue discovered in the archaeological remains of a small Jewish community referred to as Ein Gedi on the coast of the Dead Sea. The whole town apparently burned down at the same time. Archaeologists stopped working on the scroll when it disintegrated at touch. It sat unstudied until University of Kentucky computer scientists scanned the charred parchment using a mico-CT scanner at the request of the Israeli Antiquity Authority. They basically used this to create digital images of the scroll and then flattened the sheets. Because the Jews used an ink with metal properties the scanners were able to easily pick out the Hebrew lettering. According to Breaking Israel News (BIN), the scroll contained text from …

The aftermath of a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that hit California on December 22, 2003. Photo: Brian Lopez/Flickr/Creative Commons

Geologists warn mega earthquake looming

Over the past week the earth has been hit with several large earthquakes resulting in hundreds of people being killed. Two major earthquakes hit Japan. The first one occurred on Thursday, April 14. With a magnitude of 6.5, it resulted in nine deaths and 800 injuries. A similar-sized earthquake hit the Pacific island of Vanuatu that same day with no reported deaths. Then a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Japan two days later on Saturday, April 16 killing 34 and injuring 1,500. There is even concern that repeated earthquakes could eventually split Japan’s southern island in half. That same day an earthquake with a 7.6 magnitude rocked Ecuador, South America killing over 272 people (update: 570 dead as of April 21, 2016) and injuring 2,500. This group of earthquakes fell in the Ring of Fire, that circulates around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. About 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur in this region and as well 81% of the major earthquakes, those exceeding 7.0 magnitude. Anyone with an interest in end-times events are probably …

Will the Bible soon be banned in America? Photo: Joseph Li/Flickr/Creative Commons

Bible persecution?

I was saved during the Jesus people movement that swept North America during the late 60s and early 70s. I ended up going to what can only be described as a Hippy church full of flower girls and long-haired boys. The pastor was the oldest person in our church — I think he was 25 at the time. A good friend of mine during those days was a fellow named Duncan. He stood over six-feet and had hair nearly as long. It was right down to his waist, actually even a bit further. Despite all that hair, Duncan went on to have a very distinguished, professional career. I remember a conversation he and I had back then. We discussed buying dozens of Bibles, building a waterproof box for them and then going deep into the woods and burying them. We suspected at some point it would be illegal to own a Bible in North America, but we would still have our secret stash. We had even decided on which version we would hide — the …

Three of the pottery shards from Arad Fortress revealing troop movement and costs for fort provisions. Photo credit:PNAS, Faigenbaum-Golovin et al

How words written on 16 pottery shards screwed up Liberal theories, again

Throughout the Old Testament, there are many references to people recording historical events as they were happening. Liberals of course have long disagreed with this. They believe writing was not widely in use during Biblical times and people wrote these stories long after they occurred. They then of course go the next step and insist these historical records and the people named in them were simply made up. This meant Biblical books ranging from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings were written centuries after the events cited in them took place, despite the Bible treating them as eye-witness accounts. Those Liberal views just came crashing down after researchers analyzed writing found on pottery shards discovered in a Jewish frontier fort named Arad, dated to 600 BC. Researchers from Tel Aviv University used computer programs, often employed by forensics to compare writing samples and banks to verify signatures, to find out if the same person wrote them. The research team was made up of a diverse group of people including archaeologists, physicists and mathematicians, After they scanned the …

The good news about burning Bibles

Recently, someone burned Bibles in the city of Mosul in Iraq. Christians have left the region, so their enemies burned their books. Someone wants to exterminate Christians, and that is bad news. It is easy to miss that this is also a good news story. Christians are suffering, and that is tragic, but part of this story is good. It’s a picture of disruption. “Innovative Disruption” refers to a new idea that replaces a “market and value structure.” It erodes critical mass which is the minimum amount required to maintain a venture. One good example is the smart phone that you probably have in your pocket. I remember when phones were mostly black and had dials. The system worked well, but now we all want the new thing. Cell phone vendors don’t hate dial phones, they just promote their new thing. Traditional phone companies had us all, their critical mass, and then lost us. Now they are free to sell antique designs to a few, but they need us all in order to succeed. In …

There has been a 1,800% increase in YouVersion Bible app being used in Iran Photo: Colourful Iranian restaurant My Life the Universe and/Flickr

God by the Numbers: The Bible, Finland, and the Islamic Republic of Iran

While the world argues and bickers about important things, the foundations have shifted under our feet. “Relevant Issues” are dinosaurs, and we don’t see it. A church in Oklahoma has published a Bible app YouVersion, now downloaded 200 million times. One business estimate in 2014 said it might be worth 200 million dollars. They reached 100 million downloads in 2013 and 200 million in 2015. Have you ever been to Finland? Me neither; but while the world was fascinated with old European stuff in London, Paris and Rome, some people up north in the Finland woods moved the world. And they don’t get much credit. When DOS, MS Windows and Mac OS dominated the computer business, scientists quietly continued with UNIX, an operating system that belonged to everyone. Only serious nerds cared, until Linus Torvalds in Finland made the LINUX core into a free operating system that resembled Windows. Linus UNIX is Linux and it is free. Then the big money people got involved. Apple is possibly still the wealthiest corporation in the world, and …

What is the gift of faith? Photo: Len Matthews/Flickr

God gave me a Gift of Faith for $6,895

A couple decades back, my wife and I had moved out of the city we had lived in most of our life due to a work transfer.  We were there about a year and a half, when I received a phone call from my boss asking if we wanted to return home. A lot of good things happened while we were gone, but both of us felt it was time to go back. Of course, we had bought a house and needed to sell it before we could move. As we pondered the sale, we considered the possibility of selling it ourselves instead of using a real estate agency that would charge us a few thousand dollars for their service. While in the throes of making the decision, a brother, who knew we were moving, called. The Lord impressed on him that we should consider selling the house on our own rather than using a real estate agency. The phone call confirmed what we had been feeling and we decided to try selling the house ourselves. …

Bibles pouring into Cuba for the first time since 1969

According to a report by Christian Today, in July 2015 the International Missions Board sent 83,000 copies of the Bible into Cuba. In 2014, the Cuban government, for the first time in nearly five decades, allowed the American Bible Society to bring Bibles into the country. So far it has distributed 60,000 Bibles, printed in Korea, through multiple ministry partners. The opening of the door to the Bible was due in part to negotiations leading to normalization of Cuba’s relationship with the US. The arrival of the Bible in Cuba is profound considering there is nearly a 100% literacy rate in the country. However, though they can read most people can’t afford to buy books which opens the door for free Bible distribution. Ministries are finding even those who don’t consider themselves Christians are interested in a copy of the Scriptures. Other than a brief experiment with the idea in 1969, this was the first time Bibles were legally allowed into the communist country since Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces conquered Cuba in 1959. Castro ruled …

Why the Islamic State’s brutal amputation of a man’s hand is different from the Bible’s ‘eye for eye’

[by Dean Smith] This past week, horrific photos surfaced of the terrorist group Islāmic State (IS) amputating the hand of a suspected thief in the Iraqi city of Mosul. IS is setting up a Caliphate or Muslim state ruled by a supreme leader known as a Calif in an area covering parts of Iraq and Syria. It comes with a full implementation of Sharia law that provides for amputation of a thief’s hand for a first offense. After the second, IS starts lopping off feet. The photo documentary shows the brutal punishment from its first stage inside a crowded van as they drive to a market for the public punishment. On the trip, the man’s arm is tightly bandaged to slow blood flow. The victim is then pumped full of drugs to reduce the pain and further restrict blood loss after the hand is hacked off.

A ‘Divine wind’ or slippery slope?

[by Dean Smith] Stan Mitchell, 46, says he is being moved along by a Divine wind, others suspect the movement is coming from his proverbial slide down a slippery slope. Mitchell is pastor of GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee and though he considers himself an Evangelical others question that claim. The church recently announced that homosexuals and others “living in sin” will now be able to serve in leadership positions in the church. He added the church will also marry homosexual couples.

Greek Orthodox Church opposes Bible distribution in Greece

This summer people from around the world are gathering in Halkidiki, near Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece to distribute Greek New Testaments in that country. The 300 member group includes participants from New Zealand, Canada, UK, USA, Iceland, Australia and Romania. Led by Johnathan Macris, President of Hellenic Ministries based in Athens, Greece, the group hopes to hand out 150,000 Greek New Testaments through door-to-door distribution. Though the early church had a significant impact in Greece and many of the Apostle Paul’s letters to Greek churches are now part of the Bible — such as 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians — very few Greeks have a copy of a Bible in their homes and if they do it is often written in older Greek that is very difficult to understand. There is also a deeply rooted view that only Priests can properly interpret Scripture. Not all Greek churches are delighted with the prospect of Bibles being handed out. In a statement published on its website on June 27, 2014, the Greek …

What the Bible says really ended the dinosaur era… and no, it wasn’t the flood

One of the beliefs of evolution is that dinosaurs evolved into birds. There is a reason evolutionists went down this road and its based on a little known fact about dinosaurs — and oddly it’s one that supports the Biblical record on what ended the dinosaur era. The paleontological record shows that dinosaurs started shrinking in size. This was the conclusion of a study by a group of scientists from Oxford University.

Can You Trust the Bible?

Scholars of the Bible are usually divided into two camps, liberals and conservatives. In the most extreme situations, these two groups despise each other. Conservative scholars generally believe that the Bible is historically accurate, and Liberals generally believe it is not. Years ago I had an English professor at a university who identified himself as a church-going Christian. When I spoke to him in his office I mentioned that my family also went to church, and he politely asked me what church we attended. When I told him, his tone changed to a sneer, and he said “Oh, so you’re a literalist.” Apparently I was a fool who believed what the Bible said. It felt like I was the target of a racial slur. That was my introduction to the mean streets of biblical historical criticism.

2013 Bible survey reveals Americans are concerned about the rapid changes taking place in society

In 2013, the American Bible Society (ABS) surveyed Americans to find out their views and usage of the Bible. The survey is conducted annually on behalf of ABS by the Barna Group, a major surveying company in the U.S. The survey showed, for example, that one in six people bought a Bible in 2013 and there is an average of 4.4 Bibles per home in America. But there was one result that did more than reveal their thoughts on the Bible, it also showed the profound concerns Americans have about the dramatic changes taking place in their society. Curiously, the survey also suggested this change is occurring at a very rapid pace. 

Do you live in the most Bible-minded city in the U.S. or the least?

The American Bible Society and the Barna Group, a national research and surveying company, joined together to measure the spiritual temperature of some of America’s largest cities. The survey conducted in August 2013 asked 46,274 adults of 100 cities questions determining how often they read the Bible and how accurate they believed the Bible was. This was the second year in a row, Barna has tried to measure the Christian spirituality of American cities. This year, Chattanooga, TN topped the list as the most Bible-minded city knocking off Knoxville, TN, who headed the list last year.

Slaying the worry monster

So how much do you worry? There are so many things to worry about — finances, kids, jobs — and because of that it is difficult to tell how much a persons worries in a day. But one of the big worries for all of us is finances. In 2010, Freescore.com conducted a survey to discover how much Americans worry about finances and in particular their debt. They discovered that of the 1,000 Americans (aged 18 and over) who were surveyed, 57% considered themselves in debt.

The Project of Life in 2014

At the beginning of the New Year most of us have resolutions for a better life. According to experts with the Bank of Montreal, 80% of Canadians plan for the New Year with resolutions: 51% want better health and fitness 36% want better finances 31% want personal improvement 19% want a better love life 17% want career improvements That’s the picture on January 1, and apparently we keep about 60% of our financial resolutions, which works out to about 17% of the population. Otherwise, Canadians are mostly unsuccessful in their struggle to make life better.

Regular marijuana usage causes brain abnormalities and memory loss in teens

According to research out of the U.S., teens who smoke marijuana daily can have brain abnormalities similar to people with schizophrenia. With the push towards legalization of marijuana, researchers from Illinois’ Northwest University wanted a clearer picture of the drug’s impact on a person’s brain.  The results were published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin. This is an important study as marijuana is proving a popular drug among teens. Surveys show 40% of English teens have used marijuana.  In the U.S., it is the most popular drug among young adults.

Frankincense: A Christmas gift that fights cancer?

When Jesus was born, the Bible records that magi through their study of astronomy realized something significant was happening. Using an ancient Biblical prophecy, God led them to Jesus (Mathew 2:1-8). We are not told how many magi there were or exactly when they showed up, but we do know they came bearing gifts. Though it’s highly doubtful Jesus was born on December 25, it is a good day as any to celebrate the occasion. The Bible focuses on Jesus’ birth much as it does His death and resurrection suggesting God wants Jesus’ birth remembered as well. One of the gifts the magi brought to honour Jesus’ birth was frankincense:

Difficult times can be good for you

A study published in the Journal Social Science and Personality Science states people who successfully journey through difficult times can end up enjoying life more than those who don’t. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada and Barcelona, Spain’s School of Management and its Universitat Pompeu Fabria surveyed 4,986 people to find out how difficult times affected them. First they asked them if they experienced difficult times such as a death in the family or divorce. Those who said yes were then asked if they had emotionally dealt with the difficulty or was it still affecting them? 

Was Goliath uncovered at Gath?

When a Philistine army invaded Judah, the Israeli army led by King Saul intercepted the Philistines at Socoh in Judah.  As the two armies faced each other there was the usual chest pounding. The Philistines sent out Goliath to challenge any Israeli soldier to one-on-one combat (1 Samuel 17). Goliath was a “champion” of the Philistines (v 4) and according to the Biblical record stood nearly 9′ 9″ and his body armour weighed 80 kg or about 160 pounds. He was there to intimidate his opponents. It’s what giants do best. Most liberal theologians discount the story of Goliath’s defeat by a young shepherd boy with a sling, as little more than a myth. However, Israeli archaeologist Dr. Aren Maeir — from Tel Aviv Bar-Ilan University — put these notions to rest when he announced finding Goliath in 2005. 

Casual sex connected to depression and suicidal thoughts

Researchers at Ohio State University discovered a link between casual sex and poor mental health. This included increased depression and thoughts of suicide.  They interviewed 10,000 students in grades 7 to 12 and then re-interviewed them between the ages of 18 to 26. The research group specifically surveyed them on depression and suicidal thoughts. Of these students, 29% said they participated in casual sex (women 24%, men 33%).

Does Holland’s blood-red water forewarn of end time events?

The water in a canal in Nootdorp, Holland turned blood red and it left some residents wondering about its symbolism. The Book of Revelation speaks of cataclysmic events that will mark the Second Coming of Christ. The Apostle John’s end times visions prophesied that oceans and rivers would turn blood red: The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. (Revelation 16:3-4 NASV) An earlier verse in chapter 8 verse 8 says up to a third of the oceans will be affected. This implies not all the water will turn red, but obviously a significant amount and certainly enough to catch everyone’s attention. In perhaps a precursor to this end time event, there are stories of water turning blood red in different parts of the world. The latest was in Nootdorp, Holland. 

Ironman triathlete tells of his incredible healing and being “slain in the Spirit”

Paul Hickman believed Christianity was for “weak-minded” people. He considered it little more than a “crutch.” But Paul, 61, had a problem. Major back surgery decades years earlier left him in excruciating pain. To deal with the pain, he took 20 pain killers daily, but it had little effect. He even attempted suicide in a failed attempt to escape the incessant torment. In an interview with Inspire Magazine, Paul tells tells of a miraculous healing that changed his life. Paul was invited to a Christian sports dinner by former professional soccer player Mick Mellow who along with Linvoy Primus, another former soccer pro, operate a program called Faith and Football. At the dinner, event speaker Bob Maine invited people who needed healing to come forward for prayer. 

Was it a Unicorn or a frolicking Elasmotherium?

“He makes them also to skip like a calf: Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.” Psalm 29:6 KJV The unicorn is a horse-like creature with a single long horn protruding from its forehead. It is  a myth, yet here it is mentioned in the King James Bible, not only once but nine times in five different books. Even God spoke about unicorns in  Job 39:10. Atheists use these verses to mock the Bible. But when you look at the Biblical references to unicorn, a completely different impression of the animal emerges: God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce [them] through with his arrows. Numbers 24:8 KJ The unicorn metaphorically portrays power (see also Numbers 23:22 and Psalms 22:21). It was a powerful beast capable of breaking bones and destroying enemies. However, if an ancient king used our modern unicorn to depict his strength, at best it would produce a …

Court orders Christians to quit using Allah to refer to Jehovah

On October 14, 2013, a Malaysian court ordered Christians and other non muslims to quit using Allah when referring to God. For Christians this included its usage in church services, worship songs and even scripture. The court added that only Muslims would be allowed to use Allah. Islam is the predominate religion in Malaysia making up 61% of the population. It is also the country’s official religion. The court case involved a Catholic publication called The Herald that used Allah to reference God in its articles — a policy Muslims aggressively opposed. In 2009, The Herald was taken to court to force it to stop using Allah. The Herald won that court challenge. However, the case was appealed and recently overturned. The Herald says it will probably appeal. Most western Christians are shocked believers would use Allah to describe our Biblical God. But the issue is not as simple as it appears on the surface. 

Pope Francis Wikipedia:casarosada.gov.r

Pope ditches Bible and decides atheists can go to heaven without believing

In simple dismissal of Scripture, Pope Francis declared atheists can go to heaven without believing in God. The statement was part of a letter Pope Francis sent to the Eugenio Scalfari, publisher of La Repubblica newspaper. Scalfari is not a Catholic and sent a letter to the Pope asking a series of questions. Pope Francis did throw in one qualifier though, atheists and others would have to listen their conscience. According to reports,

Confessions of a Bible thief

It took 42 years, but a stolen Bible was finally returned to Holy Trinity Church in Hastings, England. The Bible’s arrival — from Germany — was expected. A couple weeks earlier, Simon Scott, the church’s treasurer had received an anonymous letter explaining how and why a 200 year-old Bible had been stolen from the church in 1971. In a letter reported in the Hastings Observer, the person writes: “It may be astonishing to you to receive a letter from one whom you do not know. More than ever to receive a parcel which contains an old Bible. In 1971 I was just married and went with my wife to Hastings to upgrade our English knowledge for a better start in our occupations. The English lesson we had were in some rather

Painting of King David by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590 - 1656)

King David’s big, dark secret

[by Dean Smith] There was a big, dark secret in David’s life that few people are aware of. It’s not that David tried to keep it secret, but many of us simply fail to connect the dots. When we study David’s life, there are a number of Biblical passages that at first read seem quite puzzling. One such passage is 1 Samuel 16:1-13. God had just rejected Saul as king of Israel and commissioned the prophet Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jessee of Bethlehem as the next king (v 1). Samuel approached the elders of Bethlehem and arranged the meeting. Once Jessee and his sons had gathered, Samuel quickly realized none of the boys standing before him was the one God had chosen. Puzzled, Samuel asked if there were any other sons and was told the youngest, David, was attending the flock. Samuel ordered David brought before him and anointed the young shepherd boy as the next king of Israel. I was always curious as to why David was not initially included. Traditionally, …

Surprise, the Bible is Norway’s top selling book

NORWAY: It’s shocking to many, but in 2012, the Bible was the number one selling book in Norway and continues to do well in 2013. Norway is considered one of the world’s most secular nations. It has a population of 5 million people and only about 50,000 people (1%) regularly attend church. In 2011, Norway’s Bible Society (NBS) released a new version of the Bible called The Scriptures, replacing a version introduced 33 years earlier. Written in Norwegian, The Scriptures is more readable and accurate than the old. People are still trying to understand why The Scriptures suddenly became so popular in this very secular nation?  Last year,  it sold nearly 160,000 copies surpassing even 50 Shades of Grey. Some attribute the Bible’s success to a slick advertising campaign geared to the youth, while a NBS spokesman wondered if increased immigration may have in an odd way played a role. Many new immigrants are arriving with strong religious beliefs and this may have sparked renewed interest among Norwegians in their own religion. Curiously, another significant spiritual event took place in …

Did a Bible miracle prove itself?

The Bible is a book of miracles. But there is one miracle that stands out from the crowd. It’s not on anyone’s list of  top ten Bible miracles.  Some have even called it a failed healing. But I argue it is one of the great miracles of the Bible, because this curious healing actually proves itself to be true. But before we study this account, we need to look at an intriguing story told by Dr. Oliver Sacks. Dr. Sacks is professor of neurology and psychiatry at