Friday, June 27, 2003


Not everyone is in agreement with the Israeli Antiquities Authority's pronouncement on the James Ossuary. Ben Witherington--co-author with Biblical Archaeology Review editor Herschel Shanks of The Brother of Jesus--teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary, just down the road from where I live. Local newspapers are giving his views some play due to the local angle. The daily Lexington Herald-Leader and our weekly Jessamine Journal have articles on Witherington's continued confidence in the bone box's authenticity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003


Many religious groups were licking their chops when President Bush proposed his 'faith based initiative' a couple of years ago. Basically it would allow churches and religious groups to receive federal dollars in their charitable work. On the one hand I think not allowing religious organizations to compete equally for federal dollars is religious discrimination. But the reality of the situation--put aside the fact that I personally believe it improper for churches to engage in general 'charity' work--is that where federal money goes, federal control goes, too. Ask any college or any private company working under federal contract.

President Bush is now attempting to exempt churches and religious groups from federal hiring restrictions:
A White House position paper sent to Capitol Hill argues that “religious hiring rights” are part of religious organizations’ civil rights. “When they receive federal funds, they should retain their right to hire those individuals who are best able to further their organizations’ goals and mission,” the document says

Could a church doing charity work be forced to hire a homosexual activist otherwise qualified for the job? What about an atheist? Well, if you receive federal money the law is unclear:
Since 1972, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act has said that religious groups can hire staff members based on religious beliefs, which at least one court has interpreted to include views on sexual orientation. But the laws that authorize some federal social service programs, such as job training, prohibit any group that receives federal funds from discriminating on the basis of age, gender, race or religion.

And you see where the quicksand starts. The article explains how Congress balked two years ago at exempting religious groups from federal, state and local discrimination laws. This is really where government will ease its foot into the door of regulating religion. I'm an alarmist you say? Perhaps so. But even if Bush's exemption becomes law and churches become fat on federal money, how quickly will they give that money up if the exemptions are someday taken away? That's what I thought, too. And once government gets some churches under its thumb how long until they come after all of them.

Churches need to be careful before they sell their freedom for a mess of federal porridge.

Thursday, June 19, 2003


Biblical Archaeology Review editor Hershel Shanks--no endorser of Biblical inerrancy--takes apart a so-called Biblical Minimalist named Ze'ev Herzog. The minimalists concede no historical accuracy to the Old Testament narratives--it's all a myth. Shanks demonstrates how the evidence refutes such a claim. The growing evidence continues to baffle those who would seek to disregard God's inspired word.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY'S weblog has a rundown of the James Ossuary controversy and homosexual 'marriages' in Canada.
I don't know whether to burst out laughing or just shake my head and sigh.
(Okay, I admit my first reaction was in fact audible laughter.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


The conservative publication Human Events asked a panel to recommend the ten books everyone should read in college. A wise panel puts the Bible at number one:
The Bible, the central work of Western Civilization, defines the relationship between God and man, and forms the foundation of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet, today it is virtually banned in America’s public primary and secondary schools—meaning many American students may not encounter the most important book of all time in a classroom setting until they reach college.

The rest of the list isn't too bad, either.

Heather Carson talks about the modern proliferation of pornography and its affect on society:
What used to only be seen in the back alley or behind doors flagged with a red light can now be purchased at your corner convenience store.

And of course with the internet there's no need to even bother with the convenience store.

The much ballyhooed James Ossuary (theosebes has ballyhooed it, too) has been declared by Israel's Antiquities Authority to be a forgery:
But Israeli officials described that inscription, as well as another purported archaeological marvel, the "Yoash inscription," as "forgeries."

"The inscriptions, possibly inscribed in two separate stages, are not authentic," the Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The officials reached their conclusions after intensive exams by several committees of experts.

Needless to say not all are convinced, particularly the ossuary's owner. Clearly this raises serious questions about the ossuary, but will by no means be the last word. As I've said before in regarding such archaelogical finds: they can provide wonderful evidence for those who are skeptical of the Bible, but it doesn't do anyone any good to pretend a forgery is true.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


Timothy J. Cullen wonders what business the government has in dispensing with 666 as a road number:

Governmental wisdom – state and federal – has decreed that the "Devil’s Highway" will no longer bear the number of the beast. Taxpayers not consulted will bear the expense of this egregious and truly nonsensical change in designation. Based on what was reported in a Friday the Thirteenth (cross your fingers and face the wall!) story in the New York Times, one might conclude that superstition has won the day in the hallowed halls of government.

Of course it's always more interesting to focus on the superficial in religion than actually bother living it.