Doctoral Options: What to do?
I have to decide from where I am going to earn my doctorate. Should I go to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary or Liberty? If I go to Southwestern, I would have to drive several hours to Fort Worth every week. If I study at SWBTS, I will major in Old Testament. I was considering Liberty on-line. If I go that route, I would major in Theology and Apologetics.
Assyrian Christian Groups
"The leader of the Assyrian Church is the Catholicos-Patriarch. Originally, the Patriarch was elected by bishops. During a long period of intense persecution by Muslim rulers, the practice of passing the office from patriarch to his nephew began. This led to inadequate leadership. The position of Patriarch was religious and political. As non-Muslims, Assyrians were Dhimmis ("people of the book" which means a group that is tolerated but denied equal rights by the Islamic community). The Patriarch was the recognized leader of this particular group of dhimmis by the Muslims rulers. This hereditary system resulted in the Chaldean schism, led in 1553 by John Sulaqa. A previous Church of the East Patriarch was Mar Shimon XXIII who was assassinated by an Assyrian in San Jose, California in November 1975 after he had retired from office and married. (Assyrians still remember the murder of Mar Shimon XXI by a Kurdish chieftain in 1918 but seem to be embarrassed by the fact than an Assyrian murdered the Patriarch and while I have had many encounters with Assyrians, I have never heard them talk about the murder of Mar Shimon XXIII.) The patriarch of the Church of the East Mar Dinkha IV (born 1935) has led the Assyrian community from Illinois. Mar Dinkha has made efforts to unite the Church of the East with the Roman Catholic Church. However, this led to turmoil, conflict and a lawsuit with his priest who was representing the Assyrian Church to the Roman Catholic Church. There is also an Assyrian group that calls itself the Ancient Church of the East. This faction has had its own Patriarch, Mar Addai II, and follows the old calendar. (Mar Shimun XXIII introduced the modern Gregorian Calendar but the Ancient Church of the East prefers the older Julian Calendar. Mar Addai II resided in Baghdad.) There are also Assyrian Protestants. Many Assyrian Protestants belong to the Presbyterian Church due to the fact that Presbyterians came to Iran during the 1800s to work with the Assyrians."
The above quote was in "The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People" and "Saint Thaddeus and the King of the Assyrians." I took it out because it might hurt the feelings of Assyrians. It is factually accurate. Some Assyrians are completely devoted to their Patriarch Mar Dinkha. So, I will try to be sensitive to their feelings.
Here in Cleveland we have some Anglican monks. One is a Benedictine and the other is Franciscan. It is interesting to see Protestant Monastic Orders when we tend to think of Monks and Nuns as strictly Catholic. Most monasteries were destroyed in the Anglican and in the Lutheran Reformations, but, in both traditions some endured. The question is, are Monastic orders biblical? Now, we know from history at the time of Christ, there were Jewish Monastic orders. It is obvious that the "Qumran community" that is credited with composing the Dead Sea Scrolls was a monastic order. Also, Philo of Alexandria describes to orders of Jewish monks, the Essenes and the Thereaputuae. Josephus also describes Essenes as a type of monastic order. Now, Jews describe themselves as this worldly, and criticize Christians as having withdrawn from the world citing monasteries as an example. This is obviously incorrect. Probably the only reason monastic orders died out among the Jews is that they were exiled from their homeland and as a small community they were unable to sustain them. Now, we have established from the historical and archeological record that there were Jewish monastic orders we must now move on to the next question, is such a practice biblical? I believe it is, in the Prophetic tradition. Isaiah had a family as did Hosea. Other prophets, such as Jeremiah, took a vow of celibacy. It seems that Elijah never took a wife. After Elijah, the "School of the Prophets" developed. This seems to be something akin to a monastic order. In the New Testament, John the Baptist most likely never married. He also apparently had gathered a group of followers around him who lived in a religious community. In the New Testament, we also see a group of women who were widows who apparently gave themselves over to prayer and religious work. They seem to be a type of nun. So, apparently, the tradition of monastic orders isn't pagan but actually derives from the Jewish tradition and even biblical practice in the Old and New Testaments. I desire to marry but see nothing wrong with those who renounce marriage for God. Jesus did it. Phillips daughters did it (or at least some of them did). John's revelation says that the 144,000 prophets in the last days will be celibate. Paul was celibate. I think that the Eastern Churches (Syriac-Aramaic, Coptic, Greek, ect.) are correct to allow those who are called to ministry to marry if they so choose. They also have monastic orders. Although it is no longer actually practiced, traditionally, any devout Catholic male could be chosen to be pope. The actually practice now is that only Cardinals become popes. I believe that leaders from the Church should be chosen from the monastaries and from the parish pastors. However, I don't believe in the whole idea of popes.
I recently read "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" by Dairmaid MacCulloch. It is a horrible book. The man must be a homosexual. The subject comes up in his books ALL the time. The book would better be titled "A Queer History of Christianity." Also, he begins by saying he will use political correct terminology because he wants to be sensitive to the feelings and perspectives of others. Then he spills out his hateful contempt for Pentecostals, Evangelicals and the United States of America. He does include the Coptic and Syriac churches in his history. But he really doesn't go into much depth-it is a rather shallow treatment. So, including the history of Aramaic and Egyptian Christianity is an improvement since most church histories are Euro-centric, however, other textbooks (such as "The History of the World Christian Movement") do a much better job. MacCulloch book is dripping with hatred and contempt for Evangelicals and Americans. It is pretty awful. In this book, however, he describes the papacy as one of the world's longest running monarchies. He is correct. The pope is a king. This topic is also explored in Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy by John Julius Norwich. As a Protestant, I don't agree with Catholicism (if I did, I would be a Catholic-and that will never happen) but I don't view Catholics as the enemy. In this evil day I think that Christians of all denominations need to acknowledge our differences but at the same time work together on common goals.
Pope Defends Traditional Values: Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press September 24, 2011
FREIBURG, Germany (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI called Saturday for a common front with Orthodox Christians to defend traditional church values, warning of threats posed by abortion and gay marriage. Facing discontent within his German flock, the pope said religion must not be banished from public life and that Christian churches "are walking side by side" in the battle. "They speak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death," he told a meeting of Orthodox Christians on the third day of a visit to his native Germany. "Knowing, too, the value of family and marriage, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation," he said. "Here the common engagement of Christians, including many Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future."
Recently, an envoy from the Russian Orthodox Church has met with both the Protestant Churches and even the Aramaic Assyrian Church of the East. The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about social decline, especially that which is represented by the radical political homosexual movement. The idea is that Christians irrespective of denomination, must come together to protect the home and society from attempts to mainstream deviant sexual behavior.
Senator: Consider military action against Pakistan, September 25, 2011 WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that the U.S. should consider military action against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist attacks against American troops in Afghanistan. "The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told "Fox News Sunday." He said if experts decided that the U.S. needs to "elevate its response," he was confident there would be strong bipartisan support in Congress for such action. Graham did not call for military action but said "all options" should be considered. He said assistance to Pakistan should be reconfigured and that the U.S. should no longer designate an amount of aid for Pakistan but have a more "transactional relationship" with the country. "They're killing American soldiers," he said. "If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."
I am 100% behind the War on Islamic Terror. I have served twice and hope to again. I also think we should expand the war into new fronts such as Pakistan.
Iranian Navy Plans to Send Ships Near U.S. Waters
By Justin Fishel
Published September 27, 2011 | FoxNews.com The Iranian navy plans to move naval vessels out of the Persian Gulf and into the Atlantic Ocean, "near maritime borders of the United States," the Tehran Times reported Tuesday. According to the English-language paper based in Tehran, the announcement came from a top Iranian naval officer on Tuesday. "As the global arrogance (forces of imperialism) have a (military) presence near our sea borders, we also plan to have a strong presence near the U.S. sea borders with the help of the soldiers who are loyal to the vali-e faqih (supreme jurisprudent)," said Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, as quoted and paraphrased by the Tehran Times. "We've been pushing freedom of the seas for years and the Iranian navy can go wherever it wants," said Pentagon Spokesman Capt. John Kirby.
If an Iranian military ship comes near America's coast and threatens us-the US Navy should blow it out of the water. But this current administration won't because it isn't committed to American community and national defense. Our enemies know this and they are becoming emboldened and the world is becoming a more dangerous place.
US tells court bin Laden photos must stay secret
By RICHARD LARDNER - Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Public disclosure of graphic photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May by U.S. commandos would damage national security and lead to attacks on American property and personnel, the Obama administration contends in a court documents. In a response late Monday to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group seeking the imagery, Justice Department attorneys said the CIA has located 52 photographs and video recordings. But they argued the images of the deceased bin Laden are classified and are being withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military. The Justice Department has asked the court to dismiss Judicial Watch's lawsuit because the records the group wants are "wholly exempt from disclosure," according to the filing. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, accused the Obama administration of making a "political decision" to keep the bin Laden imagery secret. "We shouldn't throw out our transparency laws because complying with them might offend terrorists," Fitton said in a statement. "The historical record of Osama bin Laden's death should be released to the American people as the law requires." The Associated Press has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to review a range of materials, such as contingency plans for bin Laden's capture, reports on the performance of equipment during the May 1 assault on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and copies of DNA tests confirming the al-Qaida leader's identity. The AP also has asked for video and photographs taken from the mission, including photos made of bin Laden after he was killed. The Obama administration refused AP's request to quickly consider its request for the records. AP appealed the decision, arguing that unnecessary bureaucratic delays harm the public interest and allow anonymous U.S. officials to selectively leak details of the mission. Without expedited processing, requests for sensitive materials can be delayed for months and even years. The AP submitted its request to the Pentagon less than one day after bin Laden's death. In a declaration included in the documents, John Bennett, director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, said many of the photos and video recordings are "quite graphic, as they depict the fatal bullet wound to (bin Laden) and other similarly gruesome images of his corpse." Images were taken of bin Laden's body at the Abbottabad compound, where he was killed by a Navy SEAL team, and during his burial at sea from the USS Carl Vinson, Bennett said. "The public release of the responsive records would provide terrorist groups and other entities hostile to the United States with information to create propaganda which, in turn, could be used to recruit, raise funds, inflame tensions, or rally support for causes and actions that reasonably could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to both the national defense and foreign relations of the United States," Bennett wrote. Navy Adm. William McRaven, the top officer at U.S. Special Operations Command, said in a separate declaration that releasing the imagery could put the special operations team that carried out the assault on bin Laden's compound at risk by making them "more readily identifiable in the future." Before his current assignment, McRaven led the Joint Special Operations Command, the organization in charge of the military specialized counterterrorism units.
What I don't understand about this is rather simple. Obama and the Media insist that OBL was not a Muslim. Now, if that is true, and if Muslims do not look to him for inspiration, then why would they be offended at the pictures being released? The fact of the matter is that OBL was a devout Muslim, he was recognized as such and also he served and still serves as an inspiration to millions of Muslims. Obama and all the Liberals know this. This is why his body was treated more reverently than he deserved and why he was given a 45 minute long Muslim funeral before his body was buried at sea.
Southern Baptists vote on name-change
Southern Baptist is my faith back-ground. The denomination is going Calvinist and this troubles me. But I think it is disturbing that they are considering changing the name of the denomination-they want to get rid of both "Southern" and "Baptist."
Is the Red Heifer Sacrifice a Symbol of Jesus?
Most Christians believe that the Old Testament animal sacrifice system was "fulfilled" by Jesus Christ. Recently, I watched a video entitled "Passion for Truth" about the Red Heifer sacrifice. Now, one thing incorrect about this teaching that the Temple of Herod was not on the center of the Temple Mount. Now, the location of the Temple has been thoroughly researched and the location of the Temple is established. Now, sensational theories such as what he presents obscures historical facts. Secondly, he states that the "Red Heifer" sacrifice was a picture of Jesus Christ. But, there are some differences. Firstly, it seems that the Red Heifer is not an atoning sacrifice but is a purification sacrifice after touching a corpse and becoming ritually unclean. Also, Jesus is male and not female as this animal was required to be. Also, this animal, the red heifer was incinerated, unlike Jesus. The animal was also decapitated meaning it was dismembered (or had its neck broken). Deuteronomy 21:1-9 and Numbers 19. Now "The Epistle of Barnabas" (Chapter 8) a writing of the "Apostolic Fathers" does equate the Red Heifer with Jesus Christ. It should be recognized that there is debate on the issue. In the prophetic typology of Jesus it is important that none of his bones were broken.
Death, Burial, and the Afterlife in the Biblical World by Rachel S. Hallote
This was an interesting book. The author is very opinionated. Now, one point of this book, which may raise eye-brows, is how the Israelites viewed the dead. One reason I was interested in this book is because, largely, the Old Testament is vague regarding what happens after you die. The author contends that is because most Israelites worshiped their ancestors and the recently departed. Now, this was not uncommon in the ancient world and the Egyptians had similar practices. Hallote contends that beliefs about the dead were underplayed in the Bible because they were at odds with the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." I think that she makes a few minor errors. She believes that the Israelites were monotheistic. I think Moses and the Prophets were but it seems that most of the Israelites believed that Yahweh was their god, but other gods may exist. And that is why they were so prone to idolatry. They wanted to worship Yahweh and the gods of their neighbors. Hallote also deals with interesting issue of the Israeli government stopping excavations when ancient "Jewish or Israelite" remains are found. They give the bones to ultra-orthodox Jews ostensibly to prevent the bones from being desecrated. The problem we had at the Bethsaida site is that bones were discovered but the government team didn't show up for several months after it was reported. They don't care about Arab bones-at all. I think that bones need to be scientifically evaluated before the ultra-orthodox take them away. She correctly notes that the ultra-orthodox are wrong. Ancient Jews did re-bury their dead when they used ossuraries. Jewish mortuary practices have changed over time. When I was in chaplain school we went to a morgue. The medical students dissected the bodies. When they were finished the remains were reverently buried. I don't see why Israeli law can't allow for science and faith-respecting the dead like they did at the morgue.
Frank Miller's "Holy Terror"
Art is supposed to be "provocative and controversial," so they say. However, most artists are afraid to deal with the most important issue of the world today-radical Islam. There are some exceptions-"True Lies" and "Taken." On Wikipedia I was reading criticism about the movie "Taken." Critics said it was all action without any intellectual content. That is incorrect. It dealt with several contemporary and important issues:
- Traveling overseas alone can be very dangerous for young women
- Human trafficking and sexual trafficking are ignored-but very real problems
- Certain immigrant communities, especially coming from Islamic regions, represent a threat to their host countries
- Saudi Arabians, and other Arabian Gulf Oil states, are behind international crime-particularly human trafficking in young women
Comic book writer and illustrator Frank Miller has finally published his comic book "Holy Terror." The original idea was for it to be entitled "Holy Terror, Batman" and it was to feature Batman battling Muslim Terrorists. He dropped Batman and created a new superhero called "The Fixer."
Iranian Pastor Faces Execution for Refusing to Recant Christian Faith By Joshua Rhett Miller Published September 28, 2011 | FoxNews.com An Iranian pastor who has refused to recant his Christian faith now faces execution as early as Wednesday after his sentence was upheld by an Iranian court. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old man who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran's Gilan Provincial Court determined. Iran's supreme court has previously ruled that the trial court determine if Nadarkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity. The judges, according to the American Center for Law & Justice, demanded that Nadarkhani recant his Christian faith before submission of evidence. Despite the fact that the judgment is against current Iranian and international laws, and is not codified in Iranian penal code, the judge stated that they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom. When asked to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?" "To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice. "I cannot," Nadarkhani said. Nadarkhani is the latest Christian cleric to be imprisoned in Iran for his religious beliefs. According to Elam Ministries, a United Kingdom-based organization that serves Christian churches in Iran, there was a significant increase in the number of Christians arrested solely for practicing their faith between June 2010 and January. A total of 202 arrests occurred during that six-month period, including 33 people who remained in prison as of January. Earlier in 2010, an Assyrian evangelical pastor, Rev. Wilson Issavi, had been imprisoned for 54 days for allegedly converting Muslims prior to being released in March 2010, Elam officials told FoxNews.com.
A few months ago I watched a comic skit…It was a "news show." The broadcaster was interviewing a Democrat (a "truther") who was saying that Bush blew up the WTC and an "Al-Qaida" member who was saying no-it was done by Muslim terrorists. Well, it really happened this week. On September 28, Al Qaida denounced Iranian President Ahmanijad's UN briefing in which he declared Bush blew up the WTC. AL-Qaida said-no we really did it. OBL admitted it. KSM admitted it. But the left is still in denial. Very odd.
Course Instructs Journalists to Take Note That Jihad 'Not a Leading Cause of Death'
By Judson Berger, Fox News A new online journalism course on Islam appears to downplay the threat posed by global jihad groups, suggesting reporters keep the death toll from Islamic terrorism in "context" by comparing that toll to the number of people killed every year by malaria, HIV/AIDS and other factors. "Jihad is not a leading cause of death in the world," the online course cautions studying journalists. While that is technically true, researchers at the Culture and Media Institute who examined the online program took exception to that and numerous other claims made in the Poynter News University course. Dan Gainor, vice president at the institute, said the course is sweeping these threats "under the rug," while watering down the section on jihad with inappropriate comparisons. "Infectious disease, we have government structures to prevent that, and that's great ... in radical Islam we have not even one organization but several organizations that are constantly seeking to kill Americans and others too," he said. "It seems like journalists should not be involved in trying to downplay that."
Rezwan Ferdaus is a 26-year-old Massachusetts man accused of plotting to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with large remote-controlled aircraft with explosives who was arrested on the end of September.
Good News! CIA-led drone attack kills terror leader Anwar al-Awlaki and Al Qaeda magazine editor Samir Kahn in Yemen, in a strike that used two Predator drones and Hellfire missiles.
CONTACT Stephen PO Box 882 Shepherd TX 77371