Daily Archives: 28 Dec 2016

Because Legitimate Preachers Can Spot a Farce a Mile Off


A New Excavation: A Note From Israel Finkelstein

Dear friends,

A new excavation is about to commence at the site of biblical Kiriath-jearim near Jerusalem. The first season will take place in August 2017. The dig is a joint project of Tel Aviv University and the College de France. It will be led by Christophe Nicolle, Thomas Romer and me.

I am attaching a flyer which describes the project. We would be grateful if you could print it and post it on the board of your department, post it on the website of your department, or simply circulate it among your students. We are looking for students to join us, with preference to graduate students. We promise an interesting academic program, with the three of us giving lectures. Students who want more information should go to our website, at https://kiriathjearim.wordpress.com/ The registration forms can also be found there.

Many thanks in advance and best wishes for a happy 2017,


Israel Finkelstein
Institute of Archaeology
Tel Aviv University


How Israel Misuses the Bible

By fuming over a U.N. resolution against Israel’s settlements on Palestinian land, Israeli leaders reveal their final solution for the Palestinians – to deny them property rights and displace them, says moral theologian Daniel C. Maguire.

Etc.  Which do enjoy.

The Emergent (AKA Satan’s) Method of Provoking ‘Church’ Attendance

1.) Pander, pander, pander. The first rule of church growth is to constantly compromise whatever deep convictions and sincere beliefs you might have, in order to make visitors feel special. Sometimes, you even need to just ask people point-blank what it is you can compromise to get them to start attending your church regularly.

2.) Study what the Bible teaches about the local church, so you know what not to do. Read up carefully on concepts like elders, deacons, and the gathering of the Lord’s people, and then laugh about it with your executive business pastor later. People do not want this stuff. You’re too cutting-edge for it, anyways.

3.) Two words: surprise baptisms. Hide in the bushes around your community, and jump out with super-soakers to baptize passersby. New members! Then just throw some tithing envelopes at them and make your escape. (Two more words: dancing bears—just trust us here.)

4.) Lower the bar for membership. Every local church should be easier to join than the Burger King Kid’s Club. They come to church once per year? No problem. They’re living an unrepentant, egregiously sinful lifestyle? Hey—who are you to judge? They can’t even articulate the gospel at a Tiny Tots level? Psshh, bring ’em in! You’re not gonna grow this thing by turning people away! Extra tip: even let unregenerate folks fill leadership roles—you want everyone to really super welcomed.

5.) Design your church to look like a shopping mall. When visitors wander in to pick up a coffee or go shopping in one of your bookstores or clothing stalls, ideally they won’t even know they’re in a church. Some of the most successful churches even keep their members in the dark about their true identity as a place of worship for years. The early church did this all the time—that’s how they grew so fast.

6.) Vision cast literally everything. If a volunteer asks if she can rearrange the coffee bar next Sunday, immediately stop what you’re doing and have a vision-casting meeting about it. Make sure nothing happens that is not part of the head pastor’s God-given vision, no matter how inconsequential, or how unbiblical (see #2) his vision is. We’re not even entirely sure what “vision casting” is, really, but all the edgy churches do it, so you know it’s good.

7.) Don’t ask people to serve. This should go without saying, but there are still a lot of backwards churches out there that ask people other than the well-paid staff to help out and serve the body of Christ. Remember that it’s all about making people feel comfortable, rather than offering a place where they can be a part of something bigger than themselves. Say it with us: the customer is always right!

8.) Whatever else you do, don’t preach the gospel. This is the golden rule of church growth, and one that—amazingly—some churches are still ignoring. Teaching that people are naturally dead in their sins and need a Savior is very, very bad for business. If you’re going to tell people that Jesus is the only hope any of us have, you might as well tell them to take their business elsewhere next Sunday!

Remember: market trends ebb and flow. The truly great empires are built through dedication, hard work, and persistence, through both good times and bad.

We hope this list of time-tested methods will prove helpful to you and your team as you fight the good fight of increasing Sunday attendance.

On behalf of all of us at The Babylon Bee: Here’s to a prosperous new year!

The 2017 Hawarden OT in the NT Conference

Dear colleagues,

I hope you have all enjoyed a very good Christmas.

I am writing with some updates about the next Hawarden seminar, which is fast approaching.

1. I hope to confirm what papers have been accepted and produce a draft programme around 20th January 2017. Many thanks to all those who have submitted abstracts. If you do wish to offer a paper but haven’t yet been in contact with me, please do get in touch ASAP.

2. There is an enforced change in the programme to report. You will remember that we had hoped to devote considerable space to dialogue between ourselves and some leading Hebrew Bible scholars, but unfortunately one of these, Bill Tooman (St Andrews University), has had to withdraw due to other commitments. He is, however, keen to present at our 2018 meeting instead, and I’m glad to say that, in the light of this, our other confirmed speaker, Katherine Dell (University of Cambridge) has also kindly agreed to defer her input until 2018, so that we can facilitate a good discussion on one occasion between NT and HB perspectives.

3. I am delighted to announce that the first bursaries in memory of Maarten Menken have been awarded and two PhD students working specifically in the area of OT in the NT will get a free place at our 2017 seminar and the opportunity to present a paper to us. The first recipients of the fund are Hans Lammers from the School of Catholic Theology at the Universities of Tilburg and Utrecht, Netherlands (Maarten’s own former Institution, and Hans is one of Maarten’s former students) and David Lees from the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham UK. Many thanks to the generosity of all those who made donations towards these bursaries. Corja Menken has been kept up to date with all these developments and is delighted that Maarten is being remembered in this way. I intend to hold further discussions at the next seminar about how we best administer the fund and select recipients for the next two years.

With all best wishes to you all for a very happy New Year,Susan

Professor Susan Docherty, Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism/Head of Theology, Newman University Birmingham


2016 And The Deaths of Celebs

The one common denominator which all the celebs who died in 2016 share is an addiction to alcohol or drugs or both at some point in their lives or even at the time of their deaths.

Perhaps the takeaway from this year is that drug and alcohol abuse are so horrifying because their effects are long term.

By the time you quit, the damage done to your entire internal organ system has probably already been done.  Perhaps, then, don’t do drugs and don’t become an alcoholic are the best advice the sensible can give.

If you don’t want to die in your 40’s or 50’s or 60’s maybe you should abstain from substance abuse…

If You Want Your ‘Nativity Pageant’ To be Biblical…

  1. Have Jesus in a manger with no one there at first but Joseph and Mary (animals are optional).
  2. Have the shepherds show up.  No angels.  The angels are never described as visiting the baby.  They show up while the shepherds are out of town.  Read Luke, for pete’s sake.
  3. Have the shepherds take off.
  4. Replace the new born infant with a two year old or so toddler.
  5. Get the family out of the animal segment of the place and put them in the house proper.  Read Matthew, for pete’s sake.
  6. Have the wise men show up.  There may be any from 2 to, oh who knows, 10?  Any number but 1 is actually fine since the Bible never specifies a number and only uses the plural.
  7. Have them present gifts.  They can all give the three named gifts or each can give one or any variation of 1-3.
  8. Have them leave.  The angels can’t be with them at the house and neither can the shepherds.  Matthew’s account is chronologically distant from Luke’s.  Luke’s narration is early on in the newborn’s life and Matthew’s is a couple of years later.

In sum, the shepherds and wise men weren’t there at the same time.  The angels were never there.  If you choose to telescope everything into one giant event, that’s your business.  But realize, there’s no biblical justification for doing so and in fact to do so is to distort Scripture.

Stop letting art be your guide and let Scripture be instead.

Media Matters

With the media only reporting celebrity deaths it’s no wonder people will do anything for fame. The message is clear- your life doesn’t matter if you aren’t on tv.