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Archive for the ‘Tough Questions’ Category

Speculation as to the time of Jesus’ birth dates back to the 3rd century, when Hyppolytus (ca. 170-236) claimed that Jesus was born on December 25. The earliest mention of some sort of observance on that date is in the Philoclian Calendar, representing Roman practice, of the year 336. Later, John Chrysostom favored the same date of birth. Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) had access to the original Roman birth census, which also documented that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. The date eventually became the officially recognized date for Christmas in part because it coincided with the pagan festivals celebrating Saturnalia and the winter solstice. The church thereby offered people a Christian alternative to the pagan festivities and eventually reinterpreted many of their symbols and actions in ways acceptable to Christian faith and practice.

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I had a reader email in and ask a few questions about baptism; what is it, what is the difference between sprinkle/pour and immersion baptisms, infant baptisms, and is any of it biblical?

Let me start at the beginning and cover what baptism is and what it is not. A Christian baptism is an act we perform to show our faith in Christ as our savior. The act itself is symbolizing us going into the grave, just as Jesus did, and then coming out of the water represents us coming to life is a Christian just as Jesus was resurrected on the third day. In the bible we read:

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life

Romans 6:3-4

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Yesterday, we spoke about the Gospel of Mary, a Gnostic Gospel that was found in the town of Nag Hammadi with a large collection of early Gnostic writings. This place then became known as the Nag Hammadi Library. In both that post of the Gospel of Mary and the couple of sentences above, I have used the word ‘Gnostic’ repeatedly. I had a reader ask me what ‘Gnostic’ is and what makes it different than the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John? (more…)

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I am slammed at work today with an issue that has come up; so today’s Tough Questions will come directly from GotQuestions.org:

got-questions.jpg The first of the Dead Sea Scroll discoveries occurred in 1947 in Qumran, a village situated about twenty miles east of Jerusalem on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. A young Bedouin shepherd, following a goat that had gone astray, tossed a rock into one of the caves along the seacliffs and heard a cracking sound: the rock had hit a ceramic pot containing leather and papyrus scrolls that were later determined to be nearly twenty centuries old. Ten years and many searches later, eleven caves around the Dead Sea were found to contain tens of thousands of scroll fragments dating from the third century B.C. to A.D. 68 and representing an estimated eight hundred separate works.

The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise a vast collection of Jewish documents written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and encompassing many subjects and literary styles. They include manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Hebrew Bible except the Book of Esther, all of them created nearly one thousand years earlier than any previously known biblical manuscripts. The scrolls also contain the earliest existing biblical commentary, on the Book of Habakkuk, and many other writings, among them religious works pertaining to Jewish sects of the time

The legends of what was contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls are far beyond what was actually there. There were no lost books of the Bible or other literature that there was not already other copies of. The vast majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls were simply copies of books of the Old Testament from 250-150 B.C. A copy or portion of nearly every Old Testament book was found in Qumran. There were extra-biblical and apocryphal books found as well, but again, the vast majority of the scrolls were copies of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls were such an amazing discovery in that the scrolls were in excellent condition and had remained hidden for so long (over 2000 years). The Dead Sea Scrolls can also give us confidence in the reliability of the Old Testament manuscripts since there were minimal differences between the manuscripts that had previously been discovered and those that were found in Qumran. Clearly this is a testament to the way God has preserved His Word down through the centuries, protecting it from extinction and guarding it against significant error.

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passion-of-the-christ.jpg            Modern media has a big influence on our lives and the things that people believe and act or don’t believe and act. Just think of all the people waiting for the weather to come on the local news so that they know what to wear to work tomorrow. While this is not an example based on faith, you can see how it does affect the things we do in our daily lives. So when big media hits, and hits on faith and people’s beliefs, it can be a huge thing! The Passion of the Christ is one such occasion. With all the media hype and news that followed it, many people asked if the movie followed the Bible and what it tells us that happened.

            Actually, it is almost exactly what the Bible preaches in the Gospels. There were a few things in the movie that were not mentioned in the Bible such as the demonic children and the woman wiping blood from Jesus’ face, but other than that it was very accurate to the story in the Bible. Mel Gibson also gave a little more information about Mary that was in the Bible as well. But over all the stories do match up and watching the movie, while more violent and startling when put in motion, does follow what we have been Biblically taught.

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crown-and-cross.jpgQuestion
Christians admit that Jesus read the Old Testament during his time on earth. So he knew about the prophecies and tried to fulfill them. Does that not make them null and void?

Answer
While it is true that Jesus did have the Bible(at the time it was just the Old Testament) to read and go over this does not mean that he sought out things to do to accomplish these prophecies. On top of that, there are MANY that are completely out of human control. Born in Bethlehem, for example, is one that was not in his control as a human. Can you picture him in Mary’s stomach on the way to Bethlehem kicking to get attention and then saying “Um…mom….we need to hurry up and get there or this whole God’s son thing is not going to turn out so good…” I kid, but you can definitely see the point. Pure coincidence you say!? Well then let’s take a look at the day of crucifixion. On this one day, Jesus fulfilled nearly 30 prophecies about his life and death. Here is a list of some of them and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek humorous look of each.

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