Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Does the Bible hush up history?



First as a runaway bestselling novel and then as a blockbuster movie, The Da Vinci Code has fascinated millions. Its allegations against historic Christianity are colorfully portrayed, and survey shows that reading The Da Vinci Code does alter beliefs. But are these allegations true, or merely inaccurate accounts of centuries-old myths and heresies?

To sift through the evidence, here's a summary of May/June issue of Solid Ground, bi-monthly letter from STR:

  • According to The Da Vinci Code, the Bible as we know it today—along with Jesus' divinity—was fabricated at the Council of Nicea for political reasons. The authentic accounts of Jesus were destroyed. However, there is not a shred of evidence for these claims. According to those actually present at Nicea—Eusebius and Athanasius in particular—Christ's deity was the reason for Nicea, not the result of it.
  • Writings from the first three centuries are replete with references to Jesus' divinity. Even the heretical Gnostics and the Modalists got this detail right.
  • The New Testament Canon was never an issue at Nicea because the legitimacy of the four gospels had been decided centuries before. The Gnostic Gospels that Brown supports—like Thomas, Mary, and Philip—were not.
  • None of the canonical Gospels report the most climactic event of the century, the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., strong evidence each was completed before then within decades, not centuries, of the crucifixion.
  • No evidence suggests the New Testament evolved over time through countless translations and revisions. Instead, the academic analysis shows it to be the most reliable document from antiquity.

Read Solid Ground for more details.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Love and hard work

One of the men I respect and like the most, and one man every young person should get to know, is Ravi Zacharias. I recently reread one of his books, I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah, and in the chapter titled "The Will To Do", he said:

The first thing to bear in mind is that we exaggerate the separation of the emotion and the will as two distinct faculties of operation--some kind of misshapen two-headed monster... I believe that a legitimate understanding of what is happening here can preserve the grand union between emotion and will.

Without the will, marriage is a mockery, without emotion, it is a drudgery. You need both.

In the same chapter Ravi talked about his initial disgreement with one of his professors that love is hard work, but after long years of being married, he assented that his professor was right. And like Ravi in his younger days, I find it incredible to think that loving another can be so hard to do. But then I looked around me and I started to see clues as to why that is true.

My parents celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary earlier this year. As a child who has the privilege of observing upclose the domestic interactions between two people over almost thirty years, I could vouch for at least one married couple that marriage is hard work most of the time, if not all the time.

While I do not know of a couple more devoted to each other than my parents, I also know that their marriage hasn't been smooth sailing through the years. But one image stands out strongly in my mind that serves as a hint to what marriage is really about. And that is the picture of my father serving up a hot cup of milk on the table beside my mother as she unwinds at the end of the day--even after thirty years of being married to the same woman, whose beauty and charm mustn't have stay the same as when they first met. Sometimes he would either forget out of busyness or abstain out of intentional withdrawal from a fresh argument. Other times he would make that deferential cup of milk despite all that. And that clearly demonstrates for me the role of the will in marriage, especially when witnessed over a long period of time.

Ravi continued by saying:

Chivalry in love has nothing to do with the sweetness of the appearance. It has everything to do with the tenderness of a heart determined to serve. That is the first hard lesson to learn.

And I believe my father learned that lesson well from the start. It couldn't have been a fortunate accident the way he treats his wife. Because I know my father's temperaments well, I know a lot of will is involved in his loving my mother throughout their marriage, no matter how loveable a woman such as my mother is.

I didn't know better. But that's my first hard lesson there, knowing that loving another means dying to ourselves--on a daily basis.


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Life as an adventure

It is both daunting and beautiful -- life. But only if it is seen as an adventure. True adventures are scary because unlike their counterfeits, you seldom have it your way. But the beauty of it comes when we begin to see that it's never the point to have it our way with life but rather allow it to teach and instruct us as it may, even when it costs us. It is often the price not paid that would eventually cost us the most.

As I sat in my bed struggling to separate an assault of imagination from the reading at hand, an exceedingly beautiful picture entered my mind. I saw in my mind's eye a lady I love most dearly cuddling up to me on a similar winter night as this, as if she would lose me the moment she let go of her grip. Then the daunting came in the form of a truth, distant as it might seem -- but no less true. If the same winter night could not steal her away from me, there bound to be another that would. A wise sage once made an observation of beauty and affliction going hand-in-hand in life. That encapsulates the entire essence of a true adventure -- that it is desirable and unbearable both at the same time! If we were to truly live, choose we simply cannot.

But let affliction come in due season. Now is a time of gathering stones. Beauty fades when it is not desired, so it must be pursued.


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Thursday, May 04, 2006

An invitation

Why do we adopt a grave attitude whenever we speak about the God of the Bible? I kid you not, I myself am one of those who often get all serious and grim whenever the topic of God comes up, as if I'm talking about a rich, powerful uncle who wouldn't spare a penny on his needy relatives unless he sees a reasonable return on his "investment", whether in terms of a favor or a twisted sense of indebtedness. We all know someone like that. It doesn't matter if I happen to like this uncle a whole lot. I'd still talk about him the same way. Just like everybody else outside the family who doesn't know him any better.

And for years this "cosmic uncle" seems to have wanted to change my deep-rooted but gravely mistaken perception of him. I know he has been wanting to do that for a long time since I was much younger... if I weren't too caught up with my own problems to notice what kind of an uncle -- what kind of a person -- he has always been. And the kind of inheritance that he's long since written down in his will for me.

If I had told you exactly how God is inviting me to see for myself His true nature, rather than the nature imposed on Him by our wrong perceptions of Him, you would dismiss me as either hallucinating or simply out of my mind. But one reason why I believe what I'm called to do is what God would want me to take up is because it's a task that is, left to my own recourse, humanly impossible. Much more importantly, when I'm brave enough to be honest with my vulnerabilities and despite its immensity, it is a task that stirrs my heart and affirms that this is what I'm made for.

I seek not to convince you of God's good and passionate nature. No man can do that for another. The only way to find out is for each of us to know what He's telling us and do exactly as He says. This I am striving to do well myself. And the first step is to accept His invitation, with the full knowledge that we're not invited to a leisurely walk in the park, but to an adventure. That means we would have to take risks with God. And it also involves sacrifices. And one other thing: success is not guaranteed.

Now I ask myself: What kind of a God would take such a risk with mere mortals? And the conclusion I draw is this: Only the God who sacrificed His own Son for our sake is capable of such adventures. Not Uncle Scrooge.

God's invitation is never for the faint of heart. And the decision is totally ours to saddle up and ride after Him into battle. A battle to ransom hearts.


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