Thursday, February 24, 2005


Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen warned that homosexuality may split the Anglican church:
Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney in Australia, said that the authority of the Bible was at stake in the row over gay priests and same-sex marriage....

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The idea that we break from one another is a painful one, and very, very sorrowful.

“But there do come times when the authority of the Bible is at stake – and this is one of those times – where to stay together becomes a great difficulty.

“I hope we can stay together. I am hoping there will be reconciliation and a turning back again to what the Bible says.

“But in the final analysis, as in the past, as the Baptists had to break away from the Church of England, there are times where strong views are held and where division does occur.”

A leading supporter of homosexual rights in the church blamed--well, of course--American right wingers:

A leading supporter of greater tolerance for homosexual lifestyles, the Dean of Southwark Colin Slee, suggested that the row was being stoked up by American-funded right-wingers who wanted to impose an unrealistic “purity” on the Church.

The Dean told Today: “The Christian right, particularly funded from North America, is generating very severe divisions in the Baptist and Anglican and indeed the Roman Catholic churches.

Jensen has it right, though, on the Biblical view of homosexuality:
Dr Jensen accepted that some people were born gay, but said that they should resist the sin of homosexual practice in the same way that heterosexuals had to resist the temptation of adultery.[emphasis mine, ac]

I don't concede that homosexuals are necessarily born that way. But certainly people are born with predispositions to different sins, alcoholism, for example. Do we accept that that individual has a right to stay roaring drunk and beat his family as a result? Certainly not. The answer is treatment and that he never touch the stuff. Some, also, then, may need to become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Sometimes generally law abiding types become sympathetic with civil disobedience. It seems now outlawed fox hunters in England have had it. To show their disagreement with parliament's law they are dressing in their hunting pink, riding horses and allowing their dogs to run about. Those Brits play hardball. But, as one hunter pointed out, the hunting naysayers "would protest the opening of a meat pie."

Just so. Release the hounds.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


A German anthropologist has been discredited after skulls hed dated as thousands of years old turned out to be frauds:
A flamboyant anthropology professor, whose work had been cited as evidence Neanderthal man once lived in Northern Europe, has resigned after a German university panel ruled he fabricated data and plagiarized the works of his colleagues.

Reiner Protsch von Zieten, a Frankfurt university panel ruled, lied about the age of human skulls, dating them tens of thousands of years old, even though they were much younger, reports Deutsche Welle.

"The commission finds that Prof. Protsch has forged and manipulated scientific facts over the past 30 years," the university said of the widely recognized expert in carbon data in a prepared statement....

Protsch's work first came under suspicion last year during a routine investigation of German prehistoric remains by two other anthropologists....

Among their findings was an age of only 3,300 years for the female "Bischof-Speyer" skeleton, found with unusually good teeth in Northern Germany, that Protsch dated to 21,300 years.

Another dating error was identified for a skull found near Paderborn, Germany, that Protsch dated at 27,400 years old. It was believed to be the oldest human remain found in the region until the Oxford investigations indicated it belonged to an elderly man who died in 1750.

The discoveries have caused shockwaves in standard theories of prehistoric man:
The fallout from Protsch's false dating of northern European bone finds is only beginning.

Chris Stringer, a Stone Age specialist and head of human origins at London's Natural History Museum, said: "What was considered a major piece of evidence showing that the Neanderthals once lived in northern Europe has fallen by the wayside. We are having to rewrite prehistory."

"Anthropology now has to revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 B.C.," added Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the University of Greifswald.

Scott Ott at Scrappleface finds the professor's hoax a little hard to swallow.

The stance of a scientific community so strongly invested in the theory of evolution will likely reflect the recent attitude of Dan Rather in another, um, questionable case:

The skulls may be fake, but they're most likely accurate.

Friday, February 18, 2005


My apologies to theosebes readers (both of you!) for my recent infrequent posting. I've fought through a bought of what was likely the flu, and just as I was getting over it was hit with a nasty cold (still working on that one). In the midst of that, I flew down to the Florida College lectures in Tampa, FL, which was my first time at the annual event.

The reason for my trip, and the cause of more busy-ness is an upcoming evangelism trip to India. Those who are going met at the lectures to discuss plans for the trip. This past Tuesday I booked a round trip flight from Birmingham to Bombay for May. It should be an exciting time. I'm very much looking forward to it, but a bit nervous as you might imagine.

Can anyone recommend good books on India?

The devastation caused by December's tsunami certainly is heartwrenching, but the giant wave also uncovered a city not seen for hundreds of years:
The deadly tsunami could have uncovered the remains of an ancient port city off the coast in southern India.

Archaeologists say they have discovered some stone remains from the coast close to India's famous beachfront Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu state following the 26 December tsunami.

They believe that the "structures" could be the remains of an ancient and once-flourishing port city in the area housing the famous 1200-year-old rock-hewn temple.

Three pieces of remains, which include a granite lion, were found buried in the sand after the coastline receded in the area after the tsunami struck....

Archaeologists say that the stone remains date back to 7th Century AD and are nearly 6ft tall.

Myth tell us that tsunamis were not unheard of in India before December:
The myths of Mahabalipuram were first set down in writing by British traveller J Goldingham, who visited the South Indian coastal town in 1798, at which time it was known to sailors as the Seven Pagodas.

The myths speak of six temples submerged beneath the waves with the seventh temple still standing on the seashore.

The myths also state that a large city which once stood on the site was so beautiful the gods became jealous and sent a flood that swallowed it up entirely in a single day.

It's startling to ponder what is lurking out there, under tons of soil and clay. It's likely we'll never find most of it.

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Roman palace dating from the time of Romulus and Remus:
Traces of a royal palace discovered in the Roman Forum have been dated to roughly the period of the eternal city’s legendary foundation.

Andrea Carandini, a professor of archaeology at Rome’s Sapienza University who has been conducting excavations at the Forum for more than 20 years, said he made the discovery over the past month at the spot where the Temple of Romulus stands today.

It is next to the Sanctuary of Vesta — the Roman goddess of the hearth — just outside the Palatine walls, site of the earliest traces of civilization in Rome.

A space of regal splendor
Where previously archaeologists had only found huts dating to the 8th century B.C., Carandini and his team unearthed traces of regal splendor: A 3,700-square-foot (344-square-meter) palace, 1,130 square feet (105 square meters) of which were covered and the rest courtyard. There was a monumental entrance, and elaborate furnishings and ceramics.

It really is an extraordinary find. And, as Roman superintendent for monuments Eugenio La Rocca says, it helps give us a connection to Rome's legendary founding:
“It seems to me that what is emerging from the excavation of Carandini, who can be considered the highest authority in this field, is a very coherent archaeological reading,” La Rocca told the newspaper Il Messaggero.

“Whoever created the legend did so with the knowledge that behind it there was a historical foundation,” he told the newspaper. “That doesn’t mean the story of Romulus and Remus necessarily happened that way, but only that memory as it was handed down by the majority of the Latin writers is much more than a hypothesis.”

I've always been a believer that most myth finds its root in fact.

Friday, February 11, 2005


A Swedish preacher arrested for preaching against homosexuality has been acquitted because, of all things, he has free speech, too:
A Swedish pastor convicted of hate crimes for a sermon denouncing homosexuals as a "cancer" was acquitted Friday by an appeals court that said he was protected by the country's free speech laws.

The Goeta Appeals Court said that while Aake Green's (search) views of gays can be "strongly questioned," it was not illegal to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and urge others to follow it.

"The purpose of making agitation against gays punishable is not to prevent arguments or discussions about homosexuality, not in churches or in other parts of society," the court said.

Green, 63, was the first clergyman convicted under Sweden's tough hate crimes (search) laws, which make it a crime to make inflammatory remarks against racial, religious or national groups. The laws were ratified in 2003 to include homosexuals.

Of course, note that he was convicted and this was an overturning of that conviction on appeal. Someone tell me that's not going to have the proverbial 'chilling effect' on free speech among preachers.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Three highly controversial findings continue to provoke discussion on the validity of the Bible:
Right now, for instance, three highly technical disputes have erupted over materials linked to scripture: In the most important development, scholars say tests on remains from a dig in modern-day Jordan indicate the biblical country of Edom existed during the era of kings David and Solomon, if not earlier. The find could undercut sceptics of biblical history.

Prosecutors in Israel filed fraud charges on December 29 involving a purported first-century inscription of Jesus' name. But this month a prominent archaeology magazine will assail the government's scientific evidence. New testing indicates the "Shroud of Turin," a celebrated relic said to be Jesus' burial cloth, could actually date from his time.

That opposes scientists' earlier conclusion that the artefact is a fraud from the medieval era.

Of the three the findings on Edom strike me as the most interesting and relevant:
the important Edom research has added fuel to one of the hottest archaeological disputes of recent years.

The Bible reports that Edom was a well-defined land southeast of the Dead Sea that had kings before Israel (Genesis 36:31, 1 Chronicles 1:43), barred Moses during the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-21) and warred with King David (2 Samuel 8:13-14, 1 Kings 11:15-16).

But many scholars have claimed the Bible got it wrong, and no Edomite state existed before the eighth century. Part of their thinking stemmed from the fact that physical evidence of Edom was lacking. Meanwhile, Lemche's camp claimed that far-later writers invented David and Solomon and their kingdom, which the Bible says began around 1000 BC.

Related to that, Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein made a controversial bid to shift the usual dating of major sites in the Holy Land to say they came just after Solomon's reign. Unlike Lemche's group, Finkelstein doesn't deny there was a Solomon -- but his theory means the Bible's record of Solomon is hugely distorted. The argument between Finkelstein and most archaeologists' older chronology was pursued in Science magazine and at a recent radiocarbon summit in Britain.

Now comes the report on Edom, in the current edition of the quarterly Antiquity, by Russell Adams of Canada's McMaster University, Thomas Levy of the University of California, San Diego, and other colleagues.

They say pottery remains and radiocarbon work at a major copper processing plant in Jordan indicate settlement in the 11th century BC and probably before that, with a nearby monumental fortress from the 10th century era of David and Solomon. They are convinced the site was part of the Edomite state.

University of Arizona archaeologist William Dever had been skeptical about Edom's existence that early but says this "discovery is revolutionary" and lends credibility to the biblical kingdom of David and Solomon.

It's not surprising at all that we find from the article that "archaeologist Israel Finkelstein made a controversial bid to shift the usual dating of major sites in the Holy Land to say they came just after Solomon's reign." These are folks who constantly ciriticize those who seek to use the Bible as an archaeological template, a lens through which to view findings in Palestine and other Biblical lands. But they have their own set of biases, not based on any text--reliable or not--but based on their own assumption (and desire) that the Bible is false.

I understand that bias is unavoidable in such instances, but it is the assumption that those who hold the Bible in disdain are those who are unbiased and somehow scientific that tends to blow my gasket. The good news is, the Bible is confirmed every time hard evidence comes to light.

More evidence needs to be gathered on the James ossuary, the Turin and proposed Edom site. But one thing is sure, I'm confident James the brother of Jesus did exist, Jesus was buried and raised again and Edom did exist, just as the Bible says it did.

Friday, February 04, 2005


Most of you will recall the controversy over the Today's New International Version (TNIV), the new Bible translation that Zondervan is releasing, when Rolling Stone magazine accepted an ad promoting it, then rejected it and finally accepted it. Lifeway bookstores, as we noted, has refused to carry the book, and many have criticized it, for its gender-neutral translation policy. Well, here are some verses for comparison:

I Timothy 2:3-4

KJV: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

NIV: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

TNIV: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."


Genesis 1:27

KJV: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

NIV: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

TNIV: "So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."



Matthew 1:18

KJV: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."

NIV: "His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."

TNIV: "His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit."


Matthew 14:25

KJV: "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea."

NIV: "During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake."

TNIV: "Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake."



2 Kings 4:2

KJV: "And Elisha said unto her, 'What shall I do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in the house?' And she said, 'Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."'

NIV: "Elisha replied to her, 'How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?' 'Your servant has nothing there at all,' she said, 'except a little oil."'

TNIV: "Elisha replied to her, 'How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?' 'Your servant has nothing there at all,' she said, 'except a little olive oil."'

Obviously the gender translation is the real red flag here. The problem is that you're approaching the translation process with an agenda of making it more palatable to a modern audience. While I am a firm supporter of modern translations that use better base texts and eschew archaic language, when we start trying to make the Bible's content more acceptable to the culture at large we miss the point. It is the radical no-compromise counter-cultural message that makes the Bible stand as a beacon to a lost and dying world. When we water down the Bible's distinctiveness from the world at large, we are doing nothing but quenching the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Gary Henry has started a new weblog:WordPoints to record his Biblical thoughts and spiritual insights. I'm sure it will be one to keep an eye on.

A group of five jurors who *gasp!* studied the Bible together are cause tofree a murderer from death row:
Jurors who sentenced a convicted killer to die did nothing wrong when they studied the Bible during deliberations - including the verse that commands "eye for eye, tooth for tooth," prosecutors told the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday as they sought to have the man put back on death row.

A lower court threw out the death penalty given to Robert Harlan for raping and murdering a 25-year-old cocktail waitress in 1994.

Defense attorneys challenged the sentence after discovering five jurors had looked up Bible verses, copied some of them down and then talked about them behind closed doors.

Well, now, we certainly can't have people looking up verses and talking about them. What kind of country do they think this is?! Apparently it's a country that seems more ready to call Bible reading wrong than rape and murder.