Daily Archives: 6 Apr 2012

Fun Facts from Israel’s History

The founders of the modern state of Israel were predominantly European, secular, and socialist.  How times have changed.

Total Depravity: The Case of Christopher Hooker

You may remember his name; he’s the former teacher from California who ‘fell in love’ with his student but who ‘waited till she was 18’ before they began their oh so serious ‘relationship’.  It seems that Mr Hooker can’t be trusted with anyone’s child.

A former California teacher who made national headlines when he left his job and family to move in with an 18-year-old student was arrested Friday on suspicion of sexually abusing a different student more than a decade ago, police said.  Christopher Hooker, 41, was arrested for investigation of oral copulation with a minor.  Police said the case stems from a 1998 relationship he had with a 17-year-old student from Davis High School in Modesto, where he once taught.

Once a molester always a molester.

Police said the investigation started after Hooker announced his relationship in February with Jordan Powers, whom he taught at Enochs High School in Modesto.  Appearing on numerous national talk shows and in news interviews, Hooker and Powers maintained they didn’t have a sexual relationship until she turned 18, but police are investigating whether there was inappropriate contact before that.

It seems his present victim’s mother has been vindicated for her distrust of this person.

Down in South Carolina at the ‘Rock Community Church’

At the “Rock: Conway’s Community Church’ they mailed out a postcard to folk inviting them to attend Easter Services.

The problem, however, is that the postcard they sent is simultaneously gruesome and offensive.

Look, their point is clear enough.  But the graphic of a dead rabbit on the highway is completely gratuitous.  And boy are they hearing about it on their facebook page.  Further, they’ve missed the point of Easter altogether.  It isn’t the bad news of death, it’s the good news of death conquered.  Their campaign may get people to talk, but not about the right thing.  Now the focus isn’t on the Resurrection of Christ, it’s on a dead rabbit- exactly the OPPOSITE of what they intended with their efforts.

A bit of theological foresight is always useful.  Especially for Churches.


[In modern atheism] For the sake of freedom God must be denied.  In this form atheism betrays its real dynamic idea.  Man wills to be master; therefore there can be no other master.  This kind of atheism is obviously the lie accepted by the man who refuses to be a creature, but who wills to be absolute. — Emil Brunner



Faith arises in and with the abdication of the self which claims sovereignty;  it is the renunciation of independence, of one’s own sovereignty, and the recognition of the sovereignty of the God who reveals Himself.  … Unbelief is the disobedience of the man who will not renounce his independence.  — Emil Brunner

If Tabor and Simcha are Right, Jesus Had Disciples Before Jesus Was Around!

Mark Goodacre writes

I have recently been reading and greatly profiting from Amos Kloner and Boaz Zissu’s magisterial The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Perod (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion 8; Leuven: Peeters, 2007) and I naturally turned with interest to their brief cataloguing of the Talpiot Tomb B, where I read with interest:  “The finds indicate that the cave was used from the first century BCE to the first century CE (342).”  Now did I just read that right? Was this tomb already in use in the first century BCE? By my reckoning, that makes it a little more difficult for it to have been known as the special burial place of Jesus’ disciples. Tabor and Jacobovici’s speculation that the tomb belonged to the first century CE figure of Joseph of Arimathea also becomes unlikely in the light of this important detail.

I think I just heard a dual ‘oops’ from the direction of Toronto and Charlotte. Mark has further details. Oops…

A Special Edition of ‘Book Recommendation’ in Honor of Emil Brunner

(Sorry my voice is so raspy. All that denunciation of depravity has taken its toll… )

More Proof That the Media Just Doesn’t Understand Christianity

It’s Easter weekend. Naturally the news shows are lining up their Sunday guests and what a list they’ve put together.  According to Rachel Zoll on twitter-

NY Cardinal Dolan will be on `Face the Nation;’ Rick & Kay Warren will be on `This Week;” and Franklin Graham is showing up on `CBS Sunday Morning.’

These three represent Christianity in the same way that Marcion represents second century orthodoxy.  Can’t the networks do better?  Don’t they know anyone they could ask?  Have they no contacts in the theological world?  Or do they just feed the fame machine and pander to the ignorant?

Come on media, ask around.  There are better.  Way better.

How Doubting Thomas Came to Doubt: An Observation

The day of Jesus resurrection the disciples (except for Thomas, and Judas of course) were gathered in the same location in which they had eaten the ‘Last Supper’ just a few days before.  Suddenly the risen Jesus appeared and conversed with them.

When Thomas next appears he is told what happened and he doesn’t believe it.  ‘Unless I see the prints in his hands and push my finger in his side, I won’t believe’.

The next week the disciples are again gathered in assembly and this time Thomas is present.  Jesus chides him for disbelieving the testimony of his compatriots and then challenges him to shove his finger in Jesus’ side.  He refuses, and then confesses ‘My Lord and my God’.

Two simple observations may be worth making:

1- Thomas doesn’t assemble with the others and from that decision springs his disbelief.


2- When Thomas gathers with the others he not only meets them but he meets the Risen Jesus.  When he does, his doubts dissolve.

And two applications:

1- When we absent ourselves from the assembly we run the risk of missing being in the presence of the Lord Christ.


2- When we do so, we also open ourselves to the possibility of doubt and despair.

I think it fair to suggest that John (the Gospel-ist who tells us of these events) wants his contemporaries to contemplate the very real possibility that when they ‘forsake the assembly’ they expose themselves to doubt and doubt, when fully formed, is despair.

Perhaps the author of Hebrews had the same thing in mind when he urged the followers of Jesus not to forsake the assembly as so many, even then, had done.

Every time you miss worship- you plant the seed of doubt.  And every time you plant the seed of doubt, you eventually reap despair.

Fish as a Religious Symbol

Joe Zias has an interesting contribution to the subject over on Bible and Interpretation.

Chris Tilling's newest tattoo

The origin of the fish as a religious symbol, appearing in many differing religions in the Old and New World, suggests that its origin, like fishing itself, goes back to antiquity. Whereas archaeological evidence for fishing is found in the settlements of early man, going back as far as 750,000 BP in modern day Israel, the aim of this paper is not to explore the many differing religious and cultural explanations for the fish as a religious symbol but to suggest, based upon personal experience, why the fish is an almost universal religious symbol among mankind.

Give it a look.  And if you know what 750,000 BP means I’d like to as well.

UPDATE: BP = ‘before present’ and evidently it’s a geological term.  Thanks, Mark Elliott.  (I don’t read a lot of geology… rocks… who cares).

A Quick Question for Simcha Jacobovici and his Cohort

James Tabor remarked in the Washington Post yesterday

“Legally, we could dig a tunnel and excavate, but you would have 100,000 Haredim burning tires.”

Quick question: how long would it have taken you to call any of those of us disagreeing with the conclusions you and your film and book draw about the ‘Jesus Discovery’ anti-semitic had we said something like that?

One of your assistants has called me anti-semitic in a whole flurry of emails without reason or foundation. So I ask again, how long will it take you to call Tabor anti-semitic? Or do you really think Haredim wander in giant herds and riot by burning tires whenever a tomb is opened?

Or, to say it more directly: who’s really anti-semitic here? Someone who supports the rights of the Palestinians to their own land or someone who insults an entire segment of Judaism?

Someone has to combat the lunacy.

XKV8R: The Official Blog of Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

Twitter: Because when reason, logic, common sense, facts, evidence, and scholars all say "No," you can always appeal to faith and beg the public to keep the story alive.

Twitter: Because when reason, logic, common sense, facts, evidence, and scholars all say “No,” you can always appeal to faith and beg the public to keep the story alive.

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Time May Move Forward, But People Never Change

On March 30th, 1861 the following notice was written in the Richmond Daily Dispatch

Yesterday was Good Friday; but we are afraid many of our friends spent it on the banks of the river, instead of in Church.–The day was infinitely attractive. It nibbled at the heart of the genuine fisherman, as a big chub nibbles at his hook when he happens to be in good luck. That is to say, it did not nibble at all — it took hold, and swallowed at a gulp. It carried him off to the stream incontinently, and there was no resisting the rush.

Time may move ever forward, but people never change.  More will spend the day ‘at the river-bank’ (and every other imaginable place) today than will spend some time in worship.

Believe Me, Mark Goodacre Didn’t See the Face of Jesus in the Jonah Ossuary…

Mark was speaking tongue in cheek the other day when he mockingly suggested that he saw the face of Jesus in the Jonah ossuary, but that didn’t stop the film company run by Simcha Jacobovici from attempting to make it seem that Goodacre saw the visage of Jesus.  Bob Cargill takes Simcha’s company to task for it.  Justifiably.

Apparently motivated by a blog post penned by Duke University Professor Dr. Mark Goodcare, Mr. McGinley shows footage of the General Electric remote robotic arm (the technology featured in the forthcoming documentary) fixating upon the FACE OF JESUS in the ossuary!

As the robotic arm passes over the FACE OF JESUS, viewers can hear the voice a member of Mr. Jacobovici’s team calling out:

“All right, go back!”

Then, as the camera focuses upon the FACE OF JESUS, you hear a member of Mr. Jacobovici’s team cry out:

“You can see on your monitor where you are!”

The leaked Discovery Channel footage then freezes and spotlights the image that the Associated Producers, Ltd. production team apparently believes to be the unmistakable FACE OF JESUS!

Poor Simcha- his employee has really proven himself to be quite willing to do anything to promote his project and demonize anyone who questions it.  That’s what happens, I suppose, when tv people actually believe they’re even remotely qualified to have an opinion on matters archaeological.

The Fishy Ossuary As Reported by the Washington Post

It’s a good article featuring our own Bob Cargill and Jodi Magness.  Be sure to give it a read.  I especially liked the closing lines…

As to the residential neighborhood of East Talpiot becoming a hot spot for Christian pilgrims, there seems to be some more convincing to do. Five years after the movie was broadcast worldwide, the alleged tomb of Jesus remains an unmarked concrete slab in an overgrown grassy area.

The thing is- when the film maker visited the neighborhood he reportedly told the residents of the apartment building that once news of this ‘discovery’ broke the site would become a tourist attraction.  It doesn’t look like that’s what happened at all.  Nor will it.  People aren’t THAT gullible.

To One and All

Have a peaceful Passover or Good Friday- whichever matches your condition.