Another Mega Church With Mega Debt Mega Suffers

Lumbering behemoth the Crystal Cathedral is being crushed under its own weight of debt and shortfalls.

The Southern California megachurch founded by televangelist Robert H. Schuller Sr. is selling property, laying off workers and pulling its signature TV program “Hour of Power” from some markets to offset a nearly $8 million drop in revenue. The church saw revenue drop 27 percent from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009, church spokesman Mike Nason told The Associated Press. The church had projected an 18 percent revenue drop.

Bigger isn’t better, it’s just heavier. Megachurches are in the theological world what obesity is in the realm of the physical: unnecessarily large only because they expend too much effort on self.

Megachurches, unwilling to go on a diet themselves, are being forced to diet by divine providence. Maybe they will listen.  Though the fact is, once theological obesity sets in, seldom is the weight of self importance ever lost.

The Horror Continues…

Now there’s 1.5″ on the ground…  with more *gasp* on the way.

Did Raphael Golb Intend To Destroy Robert Cargill’s Career?

It’s not only ugly in some academic circles, it’s downright dirty, nasty.  Bob Cargill has evidence that Golb was attempting to destroy his career (because, apparently, and only because of differing views on scrolls written a couple of millenia ago).  For example

On March 15, 2008, in an email between Joel Golb and Golb/Gadda alias Jesse Friedman, about Drs. Cargill and Schniedewind, Joel Golb indicates the possibility that “both their careers may well be ruined.”

And

Multiple emails were indeed sent to Professor Carter from Golb/Gadda aliases complaining about Dr. Cargill and his Ph.D. project. Dr. Cargill’s apparent Christian background is attacked, and he is even accused of copying someone else’s work.

And

From the period of June 2007 to June 2009, Golb/Gadda aliases Steve Frankel,Carlo Gadda, Don Matthews, David Kaplan, Emily Kaufman, Jesse Friedman, and Robert Dworkin sent dozens of emails to hundreds of “ucla.edu” recipients, as well as other individuals, all attacking Dr. Cargill. The volume of defendant’s alias creation, and his planning with others, speaks to the deliberate intent in conducting defendant’s operation.

And

In sum, the inference from the totality of defendant’s conduct is that the defendant maliciously spread false information with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, defraud, deceive, and injure.

Sounds like the tactics of some radical atheists and ‘bibliobloggers’ I know.  The tactics of the cowardly and the insecure.

Anyway, if Golb’s arguments were all that persuasive, scholars would be persuaded.  And if your arguments and ideas aren’t persuasive, move on.  But for pete’s sake, attempting to destroy someone simply for the cause of academic disagreement is purely greasy and despicable.

I’m glad Bob escaped unscathed in all this and was able to pursue his work.  But just imagine what he could have done had he been left to work in peace rather than devoting so much time and energy defending himself.  It boggles the mind.

Oh People…

Tattoos are just a very bad idea.  Besides of course the more important fact that they are Verboten!  And if you don’t believe me- believe this:

More Pastoral Misconduct

Well, at least ‘allegedly’ (I love that word- it covers over a multitude of sins).

The pastor of a Lawrence church, his wife, and the church’s secretary have been charged with embezzling almost $137,000 from the congregation’s bank account. The Rev. Isaias Rivera, pastor of Tabernaculo de Adoracion y Musica, and his wife, Vivian, were arrested on Thursday.

Ok so the fact that he’s an embezzler (allege.. oh forget it) isn’t the most troubling aspect, the fact that his church is named ‘Tabernacle of Adoration and Music’ is. As if music were somehow as important as worship or even in and of itself capable of touching the Divinity. It sounds like this chap should read a bit of theology. Well ok, maybe more than a bit- about ethics and morals AND about Church and its function, purpose, and meaning.

Murder in the Name of Life is Insanity

Hence the verdict in the case of Scott Roeder is completely correct.   It takes a serious case of madness to defend murder by claiming that it saves lives.  The murder of a murderer only makes two murderers and the death penalty, if even legitimate, can only be exercised by the State, not the individual.

I doubt that there are many persons as opposed to the murderous nonsense our depraved culture calls ‘abortion on demand’ as I.  But I would never, and could never, imagine committing the same sin of which abortionists are guilty.  That would simply make me as bad as them.

And anyone who kills is himself or herself utterly subject to God’s judgement.  He will call abortioners to account, in spite of the fact that they do is called legal by the government and the court.   ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’.  So, Mr Roeder, since you aren’t God, you have no such right.

Review: Life Application Bible Studies- Hebrews

Life Application Bible Studies: Hebrews
Reviewed by Jim West

Tyndale has published a massively useful and thoroughly engaging study-guide for those Christians looking for help in understanding one of the more difficult New Testament books (and been kind enough to send along a copy for review).   Based on their New Living Translation, the guide is comprised of two major sections. First, the text and notes of the NLT are offered and second, a series of 13 ‘lessons’ naturally based on the 13 chapters of Hebrews.

The lessons consist of a set of questions (called ‘Reflections’), a ‘quiz’ on the content of the biblical text and textual notes (titled ‘Read’), a section called ‘Realize’, one called ‘Respond’ (which is of course self explanatory) and finally ‘Resolve’. The questions are designed either for personal or group use.

The heart of the guide, though, is of course the biblical text. The translational basis is introduced rather thoroughly and then it commences. The text is fair to the original language (here of course that being Greek) and the notes are unashamedly and unabashedly Christian. Unapologetically the editors assert the truth of Christianity’s claims, and that’s the most refreshing part. In a day when editions of the Bible are often besmirched by rather sterile and uninteresting marginal notes and explanations, the NLT is thoroughly Christian in outlook and result.

For example, in explaining two very difficult and controversial passages, the editors don’t shirk from plain speaking. At Hebrews 6:4-6 the notes assert that ‘those who persist in believing are true saints; those who continue to reject Christ are unbelievers, no matter how well they behave’ (p. 13). Further, at 6:6, the write observes ‘However, the author does not indicate that his readers were in danger of renouncing Christ (see 6:9). He is warning against hardness of heart that would make repentance inconceivable for the sinner’ (ibid.).

This Christocentric focus continues at 10:26-29 where we learn that ‘… the point is that there is no other acceptable sacrifice for sin than the death of Christ on the cross. If someone deliberately rejects the sacrifice of Christ after clearly understanding the Good News teaching about it, then there is no way for that person to be saved, because God has not provided any other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them’ (p. 22).

No one reading this study guide will be able to come away from it with anything other than a clear and precise understanding of the intention and purpose of the book of Hebrews and a firm grasp of its underlying theology. I highly recommend it.

To Reform or Not to Reform: The First Zurich Disputation

Opened on the 29th of January, 1523 and during the disputation Zwingli and his colleagues urged the clerics and burgermeisters of the Canton to adopt Zwingli’s reformatory theology.  Abandon the ‘mass’, purify worship and Church, update the laws of the Canton in conformity with the Gospel, and adopt a more authentic version of Christianity than was presently being practiced.

Philip Schaff does a brilliant job of describing this exceedingly important event and includes among his observations:

On the same day the magistracy passed judgment in favor of Zwingli, and directed him “to continue to preach the holy gospel as heretofore, and to proclaim the true, divine Scriptures until he was better informed.” All other preachers and pastors in the city and country were warned “not to preach anything which they could not establish by the holy Gospel and other divine Scriptures,” and to avoid personal controversy and bitter names.

The disputation soon produced its natural effects. Ministers took regular wives; the nunnery of Oetenbach was emptied; baptism was administered in the vernacular, and without exorcism; the mass and worship of images were neglected and despised. A band of citizens, under the lead of a shoemaker, Klaus Hottinger, overthrew the great wooden crucifix in Stadelhofen, near the city, and committed other lawless acts. Zwingli was radical in his opposition to idolatrous and superstitious ceremonies, but disapproved disorderly methods, and wished the magistracy to authorize the necessary changes.

Total Depravity: The Deceptive Scribe Edition

It didn’t take long for a story to crop up fitting the mold of the deceptive lying scholar exhibiting total depravity.  Antonio Lombatti has the reprehensible tale of the forged and fraudulent copy of Mark.

A clever bit of detective work by US scholars and scientists has proven that one of the jewels of the University of Chicago’s manuscript collection is, in fact, a skilled late 19th- or early 20th-century forgery.  Although speculation as to the authenticity of the Archaic Mark codex has been rife for more than 60 years, prior to this definitive research many believed it was an early record (possibly as early as the 14th century) of the Gospel of Mark and the closest of any extant manuscript to the world’s oldest Greek Bible—the fourth-century Codex Vaticanus.

Wonder how many other garbage texts have been passed off on gullible archivists and museum curators greedy for something ‘old’ even if unprovenanced…

One thing all this teaches us is that the use of unprovenanced artifacts and manuscripts is unwise. Period. ASOR is right to reject such artifacts for publication and BAR is foolish to include them- and so are all those who use such materials in their own research.

Forgers, those totally depraved reprobates, are more skilled, it seems, in making junk than many scholars are in spotting it.

Astonishing: Did Norman Golb Know What Raphael Was Doing All Along?

There seems to be evidence that he did, and Robert Cargill has it.  For the backstory to this amazing and I must confess disturbing development, see here.

For all the dismay I’ve had over the years about Raphael Golb’s attempts to further his father’s theories regarding the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I always hoped in equal measure that somehow or other Norman was completely unaware of his son’s doings.  Scholars would put a halt to such things if they knew of them, right?

I hate it when I’m wrong (and it happens only rarely, which is why I hate it so when it does happen).  I hate it more when a field like biblical, theological, or some related subject studies is besmirched by misconduct.  It looks, though, like my ‘total depravity: various pastoral misconduct’ series will have to have a partner titled ‘total depravity: various scholars and their misconduct’ series too.

It’s already hard enough to get the public to believe the truth instead of the lies of the media and the profit makers; but when scholars in the field deceive, one nearly gives up hope.