Scott's Blog - 5/31/06

Oh, Yeah? Says Who?

Let's open up the Scott Richards Live mailbag and tackle a question that will not only allow us to reach others with the Gospel, but also raise a question with far reaching implications for our own faith.

What secular evidence is there that Jesus was a real person? Unbelievers seem to think the biblical accounts are a special case of eyewitness account that have no value because they advocate a position, so I'd like to know what extra-biblical evidence I can use to address people who claim that he never even lived.

- Rudy 

Rudy, I can relate to the experience that lies behind your question. Every now and then we run into people who are so adamantly opposed to the message of Christ they try to deny He ever existed. CS Lewis once remarked that in light of the overwhelming historical evidence for Jesus' life, death and resurrection, no thinking person would ever deny He existed unless of course they deeply wished he hadn't.

But in these days of the "No Spin Zone" and "Rather-gate" it is fair to ask if the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament are corroborated by outside sources.

The resounding answer is "Yes!"

Secular Roman historians such as Suetonius (also rendered Seutonius) in his "Life of Claudius", Tacitus in his "Annals" and Pliny the Younger in his letter to the Roman Emperor Trajan, all speak of Jesus as a historical figure. 

Perhaps the most compelling reference is found written by the Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities -

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man IF IT BE LAWFUL TO CALL HIM A MAN, for he was a doer of wonders, A TEACHER OF SUCH MEN AS RECEIVE THE TRUTH WITH PLEASURE. He drew many after him BOTH OF THE JEWS AND THE GENTILES. HE WAS THE CHRIST. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, FOR HE APPEARED TO THEM ALIVE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY, AS THE DIVINE PROPHETS HAD FORETOLD THESE AND THEN THOUSAND OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT HIM, and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (Antiquities 18:63-64).

The words in capital letters represent those that some scholars feel were added by later copyists of Josephus. But another source shows the fact that Josephus was decidedly impressed with a historically real Jesus.

Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders.

There is no shortage of evidence for a an open minded individual to conclude that Jesus existed. This raises two key questions. First, what is it about the New Testament that would lead a person to conclude it is not a truthful account of the life of Jesus? Eminent secular scholars of ancient history such as Sir William Ramsay have called Gospel writers such as Luke "a historian of the first rank." 

To charge that the Gospels were frauds raises a couple of unanswerable questions - Why would followers of a leader who called Himself the embodiment of truth, tell lies in His name? (John 14:6) If they decided that the end justified the means and perpetuated lies to create their new religion, why die for a lie? (Acts 4:19)

Which brings the discussion back to CS Lewis' observation. Why would any thinking person deny Jesus' existence, unless they desperately wished it wasn't so? 

Our mission at that point is to respectfully probe the life experience of the questioner to discover why they are so opposed to Jesus. Chances are we will discover there is a bad experience with some representative of Christ or the church that fuels the fire. It is also possible that there is a moral issue present that the reality of Jesus would threaten that motivates the position. 

Perhaps the best way to get down to that heart to heart level is to ask a simple, but convicting question - If I were to answer that question to your satisfaction, would you consider becoming a Christian?

If the answer is no - then it is clear the issue isn't that the person can't believe, but that they won't believe.

If the answer is yes - then share away!


Scott's Blog - 5/30/06

Mahmoud's Ultimate Question

In his continuing quest to be named "Mr. Sensitivity of 2006", Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has followed up Pope Benedict's trip to Auschwitz by suggesting that the Jews in Israel should be shipped back to Europe. 

In an often contentious interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Ahmadinejad offered this "creative" path to peace in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad: Let me ask you one thing: How much longer can this go on? How much longer do you think the German people have to accept being taken hostage by the Zionists? When will that end - in 20, 50, 1,000 years?

SPIEGEL: We can only speak for ourselves. DER SPIEGEL is nobody's hostage; SPIEGEL does not deal only with Germany's past and the Germans' crimes. We're not Israel's uncritical ally in the Palestine conflict. But we want to make one thing very clear: We are critical, we are independent, but we won't simply stand by without protest when the existential right of the state of Israel, where many Holocaust survivors live, is being questioned.

Ahmadinejad: Precisely that is our point. Why should you feel obliged to the Zionists? If there really had been a Holocaust, Israel ought to be located in Europe, not in Palestine.

SPIEGEL: Do you want to resettle a whole people 60 years after the end of the war?

Actually Ahmadinejad has a far more simple solution to the Palestinian plight.

"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism.

"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.

"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini.

We have seen that Ahmadinejad's comments are remarkably in tune with the motivation that will accompany the Magog invasion of Israel predicted in Ezekiel 38-39. But what was most interesting to me was the most foundational challenge he made to Israel's right to exist.

SPIEGEL: The Palestinians have the right to their own state, but in our view the Israelis naturally have the same right.

Ahmadinejad: Where did the Israelis come from?

SPIEGEL: Well, if we tried to work out where people have come from, the Europeans would have to return to east Africa where all humans originated.

Ahmadinejad: We're not talking about the Europeans; we're talking about the Palestinians. The Palestinians were there, in Palestine. Now 5 million of them have become refugees. Don't they have a right to live?

Here we see that the ultimate source of the conflict in the Middle East doesn't come down to politics or economics, but ultimately the issue of revelation. 

The interviewer from Der Spiegel doesn't understand Ahmadinejad, because he fails to see he is speaking from the presuppositions of the Quran. From the interviewer's perspective, the question of origins is irrelevant because we all emerged from the same evolutionary home- somewhere in East Africa.. Ahmadinejad sees the Palestinian's right to the entire Holy Land as unassailable because it was conquered by Islam. For infidels who reject his "prophet" to call this land home is an affront to his god. 

The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob occupy this land as a fulfillment of God's promises. 

On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:
To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— (Genesis 15:18)

Ultimately, the support of Israel as a nation on her historic homeland, does come down to where we stand on three basic questions:

Has God has spoken to us or not? 

Are we the product of His creative hand, or the end of a long slog out of the primordial swamp?

Is the Bible or the Quran his revelation to all mankind?

For all his fanaticism and bad manners, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at least forcing us to face these questions.

Knowing what we believe and why we believe it concerning our faith has never been more critical than today!


Scott's Blog - 5/29/06

God and Auschwitz?

"In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

In the experience of doing a live phone in talk show devoted to answering questions from the heart concerning a relationship with God, there are some toughies that come my way. There are few that are more soul searing than the words expressed by Pope Benedict XVI as he visited the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

You've probably heard the question before.

"You Christians say God is good, all knowing, and all powerful. How could a good God allow evil to exist? How can a God who knows everything ignore an atrocity like the Holocaust? And why doesn't an all powerful God do something about suffering and evil?"

It's one thing to debate this question philosophically in the comfortable confines of a class room. It is another thing to consider the question staring at the rusted remains of brutal barbed wire. It is still another to look into the dimming eyes of a cancer sufferer in their last days and try to come up with a satisfying answer. 

Pope Benedict asked the question, but did not attempt to offer an answer.

Does God?

In fact, He does. It's an answer that can make us all more than a little uncomfortable.

The Bible tells us that in the beginning, death, suffering and evil were not a part of human existence. God looked at His creation and pronounced it all "very good" (Genesis 1:31). The Hebrew here is emphatic. The creation wasn't "pretty good, all things considered", or "close enough for volunteer work".

It was absolutely perfect.

So, what happened?

The Bible tells us that God created us for a love relationship with Himself. Without free choice, to accept or reject that relationship, real love isn't possible. God explicitly laid out a choice to be made, and the consequences of that choice. (Genesis 2:16-17) To say "yes" meant a continuing experience of relationship with the Author of every good and perfect gift. To say "no" meant a separation from Him called "death."

As Paul Harvey would put it, "Now you know the rest of the story."

Adam and Eve exercised their free will and walked away from Our Creator. Into the void flooded decay, disease, despair and death. God wasn't kidding when He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden. And He isn't kidding when He speaks to us today.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-21)

Instinctively we seem to know that something has one radically wrong with this world. Evolutionism cannot explain this. From a pure Darwinian perspective Auschwitz is only an example of survival of the fittest - the stronger Nazis simply prevailed over the weaker Jews.

The fact we find that statement revolting tells us something. We are stuck in a world where sin and suffering rule. And yet we can't get away from the idea that we were intended for better things. 

God comes to us in this strange set of circumstances and tells us that we are on to something. He still loves us, in spite of what we have done to His creation. He offers us a way back into a relationship with Himself, paid for by the suffering and death of His own Son.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthians 5:18-21)

Which brings us back to the question Pope Benedict asked at Auschwitz - How could God tolerate such an atrocity?

The hard answer is, the same way He tolerates the sin and ugliness that dwells in all of us. 

If God were to wipe out all sin and evil in this world at mid night, how many of us would be around to discuss it  at 12:01?

There are answers to even our toughest questions. And arguably the toughest question of all, the question of suffering and evil, is answered when we honestly take a look at God's truth. and the truth about ourselves.


Scott's Blog - 5/26/06

Invitation or Intimidation?

Jesus told us that the signs of His return would come about like birth pains of a woman in labor.

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows." (Mark 13:8)

The unique feature of labor pains is that they increase in frequency and intensity. There is always a lull between the pains, but the time between gets shorter and the pain more intense as the time of the big event draws near.

I couldn't help but think of this prophecy as I read a stunning insight into a recent event more or less either ignored, or even laughed off by the mainstream media.

You may recall that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently sent a personalized letter to George W. Bush. Commentators and even comedians have brushed it off as a slightly goofy attempt to establish a "pen pal" relationship between the leaders.

But the significance of this letter may run far deeper than that.

On author and syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt's web site there is a perspective on this letter that begs for our attention.

In the cover story to this week's Weekly Standard, "Reading Ahmadinejad in Washington," (the Hudson Institute's) Hillel Fradkin persuasively argues for political elites to pay attention:

Neither the Bush administration nor its many critics appear to appreciate the significance, ideological and practical, of the letter. Nor do they appear to appreciate the remarkable boldness of Ahmadinejad personally. For the formal characteristics of the letter as well as its substance have ancient and modern analogs--letters of Muhammad to the Byzantine, Persian, and Ethiopian emperors of his day warning them to accept Islam and his rule or suffer the consequences, and a letter from Khomeini to Mikhail Gorbachev along similar lines. Thus, Ahmadinejad presents himself as the true heir of Muhammad and Khomeini and may even be suggesting that he is a founder himself. At the least, he presents himself as the spokesman and leader of Islam and the Muslim world in its entirety, transcending the Shiite/Sunni divide. Both this boldness and this claim are consistent with the whole series of pronouncements and actions Ahmadinejad has taken in the brief period since he was elected last summer. But the letter, in its form and substance, raises this to a new and much higher level of clarity and power as well as menace.

As we have noted before Ahmadinejad believes he has been given a special mission to help usher in the return of the 12th Imam of Islam, a messianic figure who will lead in a violent war of religious conquest by the Muslims. it appears he is systematically following in the footsteps of Mohammed himself in his planned assault on the West.

Most chilling is a point that Hugh Hewitt calls to our attention concerning the sign off slogan on the letter.

On yesterday's program, I violated every rule of commercial radio and read the entire letter on air. I concluded by reading the line left untranslated in the CFR's posting:


Vasalam Ala Man Ataba’al hoda


A caller subseqently informed me of the significance of this particular phrase, a significance that Fradkin had alluded to, and which was spelled out in an editorial in The New York Sun:

What this means is “Peace only unto those who follow the true path.”
It is a phrase with historical significance in Islam, for, according to Islamic tradition, in year six of the Hejira - the late 620s - the prophet Mohammad sent letters to the Byzantine emperor and the Sassanid emperor telling them to convert to the true faith of Islam or be conquered. The letters included the same phrase that President Ahmadinejad used to conclude his letter to Mr. Bush. For Mohammad, the letters were a prelude to a Muslim offensive, a war launched for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule over infidels.

Hugh Hewitt

When we see these statements coming from a leader of a nation who openly declares that Israel will be destroyed, continues feverishly to develop nuclear weapons, and continues on a path of stronger ties with Russia, we see another prophetic birth pain. Ezekiel chapters 38-39 predict a coalition of nations led by Russia, with modern Iran at her side, will invade Israel in the last days. The players are taking their position on the stage. 

There are those who take Ahamdinejad's letter as a possible diplomatic opening, an opportunity to engage in give and take with Iran. Ahmadinejad  is not interested in give and take. He is following in the footsteps of a false prophet, and unwittingly setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy.


Scott's Blog - 5/25/06

America in Prophecy?

One of the most intriguing issues in the study of Biblical prophecy is the fate of the United States. 

The major players in the Last Days are easily identifiable. There is the revived Roman Empire of the Anti-Christ (Daniel 2:40-43). There are the "kings of the East", a coalition of Asian nations that will participate in the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12). There are the invading forces of Gog and Magog, identified with Russia, Persia, Libya and others (Ezekiel 38:1-6). An alliance of Muslim nations under the control of the "king of the South" are mentioned as double crossing the Anti-Christ in the lead up to Armaggedon (Daniel 11:40). Even Saudi Arabia is portrayed as offering a weak diplomatic protest against the Magog Invasion (Ezekiel 38:13).

But no mention of the United States. 

Why would a world dominating power like ours fail to merit a mention in God's portrait of the Last Days?

I believe there are three possibilities.

It is possible that the US may be taken out by an enemy power. Bible commentator Chuck Missler  explains this possibility.

The United States appears to be conspicuously absent from Biblical prophecy. Biblical scholars tend to disagree on this subject. We could make a multitude of conjectures concerning America's fate, but the fact of the matter is that the Bible does not specifically explain God's plan for the US.

However we can learn many things about America's possible destiny by looking at the parallels between the US and the Northern Kingdom of Israel as described in the book of Hosea. The Northern Kingdom enjoyed material prosperity unequaled since days of Solomon, but they had sunk to the depths of immorality and idol worship. As a result of their sin God judged Israel and they were destroyed by their enemies.

In a similar vein, it is also possible that the trend toward moral weakness, relativistic thinking and isolationism may render the US a side line player, or perhaps a puppet of the Anti-Christ in the last days.

But there is another hopeful possibility. Could it be, of all the major world powers, the United states will be uniquely devastated by the opening prophetic event of the Tribulation period - the rapture of the Church?

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Could you imagine the impact to our social, financial and transportation structures if suddenly, in a twinkle of an eye, millions of people are suddenly gone? Could you imagine what would happen to our military and political leadership if every genuine believer in Jesus was suddenly removed from the scene?

I'd like to think that so many will be gone, our nation will be marginalized. In answering the question, "Where is America in prophecy?" best selling author Hal Lindsay takes that same optimistic view.

"America faces threats from mad bombers, mad dictators, a unified Russian-Chinese military adversary and a host of other threats. Who wants to be the one to say that, biblically speaking, there is no reason to think one of them isn't going to happen? But America is not a major player in the last days -- she hasn't even a bit part.

I personally believe that one explanation could be that our country and its leadership will be so decimated following the Rapture that we will simply cease to be a major influence overnight.

I prefer that over the alternative."

As we share the truth of Jesus life, death and resurrection with others we can have a practical and personal role in deciding the eternal destiny of our nation, one life at a time. Let's remember the encouraging words of the apostle Paul:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  (Romans 13:11-14)


Scott's Blog - 5/24/06

Does God Have In-Laws?

As you know if you are a regular listener to Scott Richards Live that we not only take questions live on the air, but also encourage questions to be sent over the internet at Studio@Scottrichardslive.com. At least once a week we like to open our SRL mailbag and highlight a question that we feel would be especially relevant to you in our audience. The following raises an issue that has touched many hearts and relationships down through time.

I have a question about my marriage.  My husband and I are VERY happily married for 20 years. I am a Christian and my husband is not a Christian.  He has never stopped me from doing anything that has to do with my Christian life.  I pray for him everyday, asking the Lord to watch over him. My question is will my husband go to heaven?  I know I will go to heaven.  Does the Lord look at just my husband as a non-believer or is our home a Christian home because of my strong beliefs?

God Bless You  

Susan

Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and relevant issue, Susan. There are those who believe that a believing spouse can be a source of “covering grace” in a relationship with a non-believer. Some will say that the “one flesh” relationship between a husband and wife extends the benefits of faith in Christ to both parties. A passage used to support this position is found in I Corinthians 7:12-16.

12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

The problem with seeing a doctrine of “covering grace” in this passage is the key word “sanctified”. The term refers to the progressive work of God in the lives of people. For believers, this describes the process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ in our character as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (II Corinthians 3:18). For nonbelievers, it refers to the work of the Lord drawing them to salvation. Paul never says, “the unbelieving husband is saved by the wife”, rather the presence of a saved individual as an example, as someone who can share God’s Word and pray can be the avenue that God uses to bring the other person to the place where they receive the Lord personally.

In passages like John 1:12 we are told “But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who call on His Name.” No one else can make a decision for salvation for another. Again in I John 5:11-13 we are told,

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

The best thing we can do for unsaved loved ones is to continue to pray, look for opportunities to share God’s Word, and model the love of Jesus. We need to also remember that as much as we would love to see our loved ones saved, there is one person who desires to see that happen even more – our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not willing that any should perish, but all to come to repentance – so much so that he laid down His life to make salvation possible!


Scott's Blog - 5/23/06

Dare to Share!

It is an ironic fact of life that among those who identify themselves as "Evangelical Christians", only a small minority ever "evangelize".

Some attribute this to the fact that many Evangelical Christians have few friendships with non-Christians.

Others believe we have fostered a "leave it to the professionals" mind set among the flock. "Hey! I sent $5 to Billy Graham! He seems to enjoy reaching the lost - Let him do it!"

But the bottom line that keeps so many lights safely hidden under bushel baskets is - fear. 

We worry that if we actually told someone about Jesus it could come back to haunt us. Maybe the people at work will think we are fanatics. Maybe we won't get invited to the Memorial Day beer-bust. Maybe that obnoxious relative who saw the DaVinci Code will ask us hard questions and spoil the next family dinner.

But what if sharing our faith cost us far more than a case of indigestion? What if being identified as a Christian would cost us our careers, our families, even our own lives? What kind of a stand would we make then?

A man who faced just such choices for his faith spoke last night at a church just outside of Washington DC. What made Georges Sada's testimony so compelling is that he made a decision to stand as a Christian in his job as a General in the army of Sadaam Hussein.

Inspiring? Absolutely. Convicting? No doubt. 

Georges Sada overcame his fear and was used by God in a powerful way in one of the most hostile environments imaginable. When we step out of our comfort zones and seize the opportunities to share that the Lord brings our way, we also invest our lives in things of eternal value. We share God's Word, which lasts forever (I Peter 1:25) with people, who are eternally valuable in God's sight.

Jesus said, " The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2)

What an awesome thing it is when we join with our Lord in this most fulfilling task ever entrusted to us as people!


Scott's Blog - 5/22/06

You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Mocks You?

I will never forget the day I got into a discussion with a friend over the evolution/creation debate. My friend was a professing agnostic, as well as a retired attorney. Since I was raised by an attorney, and had to present legal briefs to get the car keys growing up, I always welcomed our discussions. They made me feel right at home!

After about twenty minutes of give and take on the issue my friend played his trump card. 

"There are no good scientists who believe the way you do!"

I smiled and said, "You know, it's interesting that you would bring that up. I just read a book called In Six Days where fifty PhD holders in hard science, from major secular universities take the position that God created the entire universe in six literal days about 6-10,000 years ago."

He scoffed at the idea that such a book existed.

I challenged him, "If I bring you the book, will you read it?"

He said, "Sure, but I think you are bluffing."

The next week I brought him a copy of In Six Days. He looked a little shocked, but mumbled something about, "Well, I'll have to take a look."

Funny, but it seems the same kind of encounter is happening on a societal level. The once comfortable evolutionary establishment is being forced to have to defend it's once secure position that we are all a product of random chance. How can we know that the ivory tower set is getting nervous? 

We could site the polls that show the "Goo-to-you-by-way-of-the zoo" philosophy is rejected by consistent majorities.

But the surest sign that the message of Biblical reliability from the very first verse is getting through is the mockery of those who reject it.

Consider that the debate over this issue has even entered into the snarky site of the TV cartoon The Simpson's.

Showing a display on a Biblical view of creation with the theme song "What A Fool Believes" is quite an unavoidable statement of where the producers of The Simpson's stand on the issue:

But what a fool believes he sees,
no wise man has the power to reason away.

It is certainly true that a man convinced against his will is of the opinion still. But who are the ones unwilling to take a look "outside the box"? 

When the official response to questioning the conventional wisdom of the day is not to answer questions reasonably and respectfully, but to mock the people who raise the questions, well, you get the picture. It makes me wonder who are the wise and who are the fools?

Which brings me back to that conversation with my attorney friend.

I didn't see him for about two weeks. When I did he approached me and handed me back the copy of In Six Days.

Excitedly I asked him, "So, what did you think?"

He said, "I didn't read it."

I replied, "Why not?

What my friend said shocked me.

"Before I read it, I thought how little I really know about science. And if I read this book and discovered that even the little I know was wrong, I would feel totally lost. So, I didn't read it."

"So, you would rather feel secure in your understanding, rather than to consider the evidence that your understanding might be wrong?"

"Well...."

Cicero once said, "He who has no reason, must often rely on passion." When a discussion "devolves" into name calling and mockery, it means the argument is really over.

Especially if a cartoon character has been sent out to call the names!


Scott's Blog - 5/19/06

Condemned to Repeat?

Most of us have heard the old saw, attributed to Santyana, that “Those who will not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We may be approaching another Santyana moment in human history, one loaded with prophetic implications.

Consider this story from The Jerusalem Post:

New Iranian law to require Jews to wear yellow band
By JPOST.COM STAFF
A new dress-code law reportedly passed in Iran this past week mandates the government to make sure that religious minorities - Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians - will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public, the Canadian National Post reported on Friday.

Under the new law, which still awaits final approval from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Jews will have to wear a yellow band on their exterior in public, while Christians will be required to don red ones.

Furthermore, according to the law, the Iranian government has envisioned that all Iranians wear "standard Islamic garments" designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions.

The purpose for the law was to prevent Muslims from becoming najis "unclean" by accidentally shaking the hands of non-Muslims in public.

"The new law resembles the Holocaust," said head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Rabbi Marvin Heir, and warned that, "Iran was nearing Nazi Ideology."

According to Army Radio, Wiesenthal Center officials sent a letter to United Nations Director General Kofi Annan urging him "not to ignore" the new law, and reminded him that, "The world ignored Hitler for many years."

The new law was drafted during the presidency of Muhammad Khatami in 2004, but was blocked. That blockage, however, has been removed under pressure from current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to Ahmadinejad, reported the National Post, the new Islamic uniforms will establish "visual equality" for Iranians as they prepare for the return of the Hidden Imam.

The final shape of the uniforms is yet to be established but there is consensus on a number of points.

There are those who urge caution about these reports.

Montreal's CINW-AM suggests the story is either false or old:

Independent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false.

"It's absolutely factually incorrect," he told The New 940 Montreal. "Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."

"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."

My reaction? These reports still have to be confirmed, but to say that the Iranian people wouldn’t stand for a Nazi-like policy towards non-Muslims is ignoring recent history.

The statements of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although universally condemned outside of Iran, have only solidified his position within the nation.

Should these Nazi-like impulses be taken seriously? Consider the comments of editorialist Charles Krauthammer.

The world has paid ample attention to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be destroyed. Less attention has been paid to Iranian leaders' pronouncements on exactly how Israel would be "eliminated by one storm," as Ahmadinejad has promised.

Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the presumed moderate of this gang, has explained that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." The logic is impeccable, the intention clear: A nuclear attack would effectively destroy tiny Israel, while any retaliation launched by a dying Israel would have no major effect on an Islamic civilization of a billion people stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

As it races to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran makes clear that if there is any trouble, the Jews will be the first to suffer. "We have announced that wherever [in Iran] America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel," said Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander. Hitler was only slightly more direct when he announced seven months before invading Poland that, if there was another war, "the result will be . . . the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

The world has paid ample attention to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel must be destroyed. Less attention has been paid to Iranian leaders' pronouncements on exactly how Israel would be "eliminated by one storm," as Ahmadinejad has promised.

Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the presumed moderate of this gang, has explained that "the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam." The logic is impeccable, the intention clear: A nuclear attack would effectively destroy tiny Israel, while any retaliation launched by a dying Israel would have no major effect on an Islamic civilization of a billion people stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

As it races to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran makes clear that if there is any trouble, the Jews will be the first to suffer. "We have announced that wherever [in Iran] America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel," said Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander. Hitler was only slightly more direct when he announced seven months before invading Poland that, if there was another war, "the result will be . . . the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

Last week Bernard Lewis, America's dean of Islamic studies, who just turned 90 and remembers the 20th century well, confessed that for the first time he feels it is 1938 again. He did not need to add that in 1938, in the face of the gathering storm -- a fanatical, aggressive, openly declared enemy of the West, and most determinedly of the Jews -- the world did nothing.

When Iran's mullahs acquire their coveted nukes in the next few years, the number of Jews in Israel will just be reaching 6 million. Never again?

Prophetically, the significance of these developments is hard to miss. The “single storm” threat is almost chilling when compared to a prophecy of a Last Days invasion of Israel by a coalition of nations including Persia.

"You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you." (Ezekiel 38:9)

Should these Hitler-like moves in Iran surprise us? No.

Santyana said, “Those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Hegel said, “History teaches us that man learns nothing from history.”

Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)


Scott's Blog - 5/18/06

Attack of the Rotten Tomatoes?

The reviews are pouring in as The DaVinci Code nears its general release in theaters tomorrow.

We have already spent considerable space showing why this page-turner of a novel doesn’t pass historical muster despite Dan Brown’s claims of accuracy. ("All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.")

And we have seen that the fall back position (Also known as the Tom Hanks Defense) has been, “Well, OK. But it’s just a book/movie! Don’t take it so seriously!”

So how is The DaVinci Code playing with those who see it “just as a movie”?

There is a fascinating web site called Rotten Tomatoes.com. It surveys the leading reviewers of movies and gives a summary judgment.

When a film has 40 reviews, 5 of which are from Cream of the Crop critics, and has a Tomatometer of 75% or higher, it is Certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes. It stays "Certified Fresh" unless the film falls below 60%.

Where does The DaVinci Code rate?

A 17 on the Rotten Tomatoes meter.

Most producers, directors and moviegoers generally don’t like to see words like - “Bloated” (Hollywood Reporter)

Punishingly long” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Eye-crossingly dull” (South Fla.Sun-Sentinel)

associated with their films.

So is the anticipated cultural assault on the authentic message of the New Testament over?

Don’t count on it.

Even with such overwhelmingly horrible reviews we can count on The DaVinci Code to be one of the higher grossing films of the summer. It will probably be loved by those who enjoyed the book, and with 40 million plus copies sold, there will be many who invite friends to share the experience.

Richard Corliss of Time Magazine pans the film, but does hold out one ray of hope for the DaVinci Code devotees –

Beneath the chases and crashes, the chalices and cilices, it denies Jesus’ divinity. As Teabing (perhaps not the most trustworthy authority) says in the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told is a lie!” And further still: the film challenges the belligerence that too often adheres to religious believers, the wars and atrocities perpetrated in His name. “Who is God, who is man?” asks Sophie. “How many have been murdered over this question?” I’m not taking sides on that issue. But for a mainstream, $125 million summer movie to raise it, let alone suggest a negative answer, in a cultural environment already politicized and polarized by religious debate, takes (a lot of guts). So maybe there’s one more Da Vinci Code movie mystery yet to be unraveled. Will the mass movie audience take to a thriller that appears to attack the fundamental beliefs of what, our leaders keep telling us, is an actively Christian country? If Howard’s movie marches through that storm, it will become a phenomenon as impressive as the book’s gigantic sales: the first secular-humanist hit.

If Corliss is right, and The DaVinci Code is a huge success in spite of the critical pummeling it is taking – what does that say about the real spiritual climate in this country? In the research for my book Reasonable Doubts  I discovered that poll after poll shows that our culture majors on spiritual sentiment but minors on spiritual understanding.

Will a movie like The DaVinci Code succeed because it appeals to and even advocates spirituality that is absolutely divorced from fact? A return to the ultimate feel-good-ism of goddess worship in all its fleshly glory?

It will be interesting to see.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.(II Timothy 4:2-3)


Scott's Blog - 5/17/06

It’s Iron Sharpening Time!

One of the most invigorating parts of being involved in the ministry of Scott Richards Live is the direct response we get to the broadcast each and every day. Your calls and questions that we feature live each day make the experience we share together an exciting adventure. As you know, we also get many questions that come to us at our e-mail address Studio@Scottrichardslive.com. Today I wanted to feature a question we recently received that touches on one of the most frequently raised issues on the hearts of our Scott Richards Live listening family.

(Question)

Today I listened with dismay at your answer to the

Sabbath question. I am fully aware that you are

capable of taking either side of this question, but to

say it is not repeated as a commandment. How about

not taking the name of God in vain. Is that O.K.? Not

in the New Testament is it? Acts15:20 For Moshe, from

the first generations, had proclaimers in every city in the synogogues,who

read him on every Sabbath!  Where were the Goyim to

learn the Word of God? When?  Matthew 5:19 And whoever

shall abolish one of these least commandments and

shall teach the sons of men so,the same will be called

least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Until heaven and earth

pass away! not until Constantine decides or the

Catholics........

(Answer)

Thank you for your interest in the program. It is

evident from your e-mail that you desire to serve the

Lord in a passionate and practical way. I know the

Lord will bless the heart you bring to your

relationship with Him.

May I assure you that I share your passion for walking

consistently within the whole counsel of God. We do

seem to differ on whether we as believers today are

required by the Lord to keep Shabbat. May I share with

you a more fully developed Scriptural basis for the

position I have expressed on SRL?

You seem conversant with Acts 15. There the Jerusalem

Council concluded that Gentiles did not have to become

circumcised in order to follow Yeshua. There were four

stipulations mentioned to help minimize friction

between Jew and Gentile (Acts 15:19-21).  The

observance of the Sabbath is not mentioned as one of

the commands Gentiles should follow.

We see as well that the early church gathered to share

in the Word and observe the Lord's Supper on the first

day of the week (Acts 20:7)(I Corinthians 16:2)

instead of on the Sabbath. Clearly this practice was

not instituted by Constantine or the Roman Catholic

Church, but was a way of commemorating the fact that

the Lord rose on the first day of the week.

Paul cautions the Galatians about observing "days" as

a basis of righteousness (Galatians 4:8-11). This

insistence on righteousness by observation, rather

than impartation by grace is no side issue. (Galatians

5:1-6)

If keeping Shabbat is necessary for all believers, why

is the option given about observing or not observing

"the day" given in Romans 14:5?

I noticed as well that you mentioned that the

commandment concerning the proper show of respect for

the name of the Lord is absent from the New Testament,

yet obviously still binding. This commandment is in

fact reiterated in the New Testament in passages like

Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:17 and Revelation 3:8.

You express the concern that by sharing that we are

not under an obligation to keep the Sabbath day as a

basis of righteousness that we are breaking one of the

least of these commandments and teaching men so.

Yeshua also said in the same passage that He came "to

fulfill" the Old Testament Law. The Sabbath was

fulfilled by His death and resurrection paying the

price for our sins, and freeing us from "the yoke

neither we or our fathers were able to bear" (Acts

15:10). You may have heard me reiterate that the

finshed saving work of Yeshua is defined as our rest

(Hebrews 4:1-10).We are now able to enter in to His

promised rest (Matthew 11:28-30). When we enjoy a

grace based relationship with the Lord daily we see

what "the shadow" of the Sabbath was pointing to

(Hebrews 10:1). This is a far more profound

fulfillment of God's call to rest than perfunctory

obedience to attendance at a worship service on a

particular day of the calendar.

Again it is clear that we represent differing views on

this issue. I wanted to assure you that the position

we share on SRL is one that has been arrived at

through prayer and diligent study of the Scriptures.

Yours in Yeshua,

Scott


Scott's Blog - 5/16/06

The DaVinci Code: It Isn’t the Issue!

The lines have been drawn. The facts have been presented. The errors have been exposed. The challenge to God’s people has been made – Better know what you believe and why you believe it. The personal exam begins May 19th when The DaVinci Code hits the theaters.

Or does it?

There is no doubt that Dan Brown’s novel takes direct aim at the integrity and authority of the Bible. The central character Leigh Teabing throws down the proverbial gauntlet in this unsubtle way:

"The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds.  Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions.  History has never had a definitive version of the book...more than 80 gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few are chosen for inclusion - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them...the Bible, as we know it today, was collected by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great."  p. 231

But have you noticed that this central theme of The DaVinci Code is an increasingly common refrain in our culture?

The debate over teaching origins in our schools comes down to a simple question – Can we trust the Bible on matters of science?

The debate over redefining the institution of marriage comes down to a simple question – can we trust the Bible on matters of relationships?

The debate over abortion comes down to a single question– can we trust the Bible on matters of our basic understanding of life?

When I was in college it was shocking to see how professors would take time out of their lectures to attempt to discredit the message of the Bible. Now we see cable news programs, perky good morning television personalities, big screen releases and newspaper editorialists getting into the act.

Why?

Paul gives us a hint in the book of Romans chapter one.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.  24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Those who have no desire to know God certainly don’t want to be accountable to God for their life choices. The most efficient way to make sure all this God talk doesn’t ruin their day is to discredit the message and shut up the messengers. And so from virtually every angle we see the message of the Bible under attack.

The DaVinci Code will come and go. But the spiritual strategy it represents will not. Are we prepared? Do you know what you believe and why you believe concerning the foundation of our faith, God’s Word? 


Scott's Blog - 5/15/06

Truth in Labeling?

These days truth is so obscure and falsehood so well established that unless we love the truth we cannot know it.”

                  - Kierkegaard

Have you ever been the victim of a con artist? I will never forget my first trip to the land of “Too-good-to-be-true”. I was about 12 years old and read an ad in a comic book about a fabulous, flying remote controlled “Amazing Life Sized Ghost”. I should have been suspicious right off the bat. How could any ghost be ‘life sized” when they are by definition dead? Adding to the credibility crisis was the fact that this marvel of technology was only $2.99. With visions of a radio controlled reign of terror about to begin in my neighborhood I sent in my hard earned allowance money to a P.O box address in Florida. I’ll never forget the day my mom announced that my package had arrived. I had visions of a crate large enough to hold all the electronics necessary to bring the ghost to life. Instead I was handed an envelope that contained a sheet of plastic and a white balloon with a sappy face drawn on it with a magic marker. The “remote control” was 25 feet of fishing line. Although my brother and I did successfully use the contraption to scare the mailman as he came up the walk, the inescapable conclusion was I had been taken. It was a con. I had been taken.

I wonder if the millions who exposed to a similar “Too-good-to-be-true” story will end up with similar feelings as I had with my “Amazing Life Sized Ghost”?

This week, The DaVinci Code movie hits the theaters. The very title of the wildly successful book and almost guaranteed summer blockbuster points to one of the most significant and fatal flaws in Dan Brown’s conspiracy pot boiler.

The DaVinci Code is the story of the history-changing secret that Jesus was not divine, was married to Mary Magdalene, had children, that the Christian church altered the Bible, that it invented Jesus' divinity as it demonized the sacred-feminine in order to gain power and influence, and that the secret is held by a sect of the Catholic Church that goes to extreme lengths to preserve the secret, lest it lose its power and influence.
    

The Da Vinci Code takes its title from the artist/inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, the former head of a secret society known as the Priory of Sion who, through the centuries, has been keeping the truth alive.

In this space we have examined a number of the fatal flaws of the DaVinci Code from a Biblical point of view. But what truly propels this work into the realm of deception is found in the title itself. Was Leonardo DaVinci (as well as Sir Isaac Newton, Claude Debussy and Robert Boyle among other luminaries) really a member of the Priory of Sion? Are the clues to this Western civilization shattering discovery really encoded into his art works?

The unavoidable answer is no.

The Priory of Sion wasn’t founded in 1099 as The DaVinci Code maintains. It was in fact started in 1956.

The Priory of Sion is an association that was founded in 1956, in the French town of Annemasse. The founders and signatories are inscribed as Pierre Plantard (known as "Chyren"), André Bonhomme (known as "Stanis Bellas"), Jean Delaval, and Armand Defago. The purpose of the association according to its Statutes deposited at St. Julien was entered as, "études et entraide des membres" ("education and mutual aid of the members"). In practice, the originator of the association and its key protagonist was most probably Plantard, its General Secretary, although its nominal head ("President") was André Bonhomme. The choice of the name, 'Sion’ was based on a popular local feature, a hill south of Annemasse, known as 'Mont Sion'.

What was the purpose of this group?

Plantard originally hoped that the Priory of Sion would become an influential cryptopolitical pseudo-masonic lodge (similar to the P2 cabal) dedicated to the restoration of chivalry and monarchy, which would promote Plantard's own claim to being a legitimate pretender to the throne of France. In the 1960s, Plantard began writing a manuscript and produced "parchments" (created by his friend, Philippe de Cherisey) that Father Bérenger Saunière had supposedly discovered whilst renovating his church in Rennes-le-Château. These forged documents alluded to the survival of the Merovingian line of Frankish kings. Plantard manipulated Saunière's activities at Rennes-le-Château in order to "prove" his claims relating to the Priory of Sion. Between 1961 and 1984 Plantard contrived a mythical pedigree of the Priory of Sion claiming that it was the offshoot of the Abbey of Sion which had been founded in the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the First Crusade.

But what of the “Secret Documents” found that give credibility to the Priory of Sion and its superstar list of grand masters?

Furthermore, it is reported that letters in existence dating from the 1960s written by Plantard, de Cherisey and de Sede to each other confirm that the three were engaging in an out-and-out confidence trick, describing schemes on how to combat criticisms of their various allegations and how they would make-up new allegations to try and keep the whole thing going. These letters (totalling over 100) are in the possession of French researcher Jean-Luc Chaumeil, who has also retained the original envelopes. Jean-Luc Chaumeil during the 1970s was part of the Priory of Sion cabal, and wrote books and articles about Plantard and the Priory of Sion before splitting from it during the late 1970s and exposing Plantard's past in French books.

In order to give credibility to the fabricated lineage and pedigree, Plantard and de Cherisey needed to create 'independent evidence'. So during the 1960s, they deposited a series of forged documents, the so-called Dossiers Secrets or "Secret Dossiers", at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), in Paris. Therefore, people who set out to research the 'Priory of Sion' would come across these fake documents at the BnF.

All of this information on the literal foundation of Brown’s book is readily available to anyone who would even care to do a Google search on The Priory of Sion.

And as you can imagine this creates some serious problems for The DaVinci Code. It would be very hard for Leonardo to be part of an association that was founded in 1956 some 200 years after his death! We can safely conclude that the Mona Lisa is a painting of an Italian woman. We can safely conclude that the person seated next to Jesus in The Last Supper is really a young apostle John.

The Priory of Sion con job creates serious problems for Dan Brown’s credibility. The first words that greet a reader of The DaVinci Code are famous by now.

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”

Accurate in what sense?

At this point those who are captivated by The DaVinci Code opt for the Tom Hanks defense – “Oh, come on! It’s just a novel! It’s all a bunch of hooey, anyway. Lighten up!”

Unfortunately there are those who will read the book and believe that Dan Brown has done his research. There are those who will go to the movies and believe that Tom Hanks means every word he speaks. There are those who will believe that Sir Ian McKellen is a credible source of spiritual insight (after all, would Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings lead us astray?) .

But they will be on the losing end of an “Amazing Life Sized Ghost” of spirituality.

How interesting that Paul warned us that failing to dig for the truth would be a fatal flaw in the last days.

9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)


Scott's Blog - 5/12/06

Hanks and “Hooey”?

The dust is already beginning to churn in anticipation of the release of the movie version of the DaVinci Code next week. Roman Catholic cardinals, with the authorization of the Vatican have called for a boycott of the film.

Calls for Christians to boycott it have been led by Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office, which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year.

Amato described the novel as "stridently anti-Christian" and called for believers to "reject the lies and gratuitous defamation" in the book.

He added: "If such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran and Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising.

"Instead, if they are directed against the church and Christians, they remain unpunished. I hope you will boycott the film."

Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian tipped to be Pope last year, went even further.

He said: "Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and forget. Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical.

"Some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others."

It is very evident what the Christian community thinks about this controversy. But what about those closest to the production, the actors that will bring this story to life on the big screen? A fascinating insight comes from an interview that superstar Tom Hanks has given to the London Evening Standard.


Oscar-winner Hanks said objectors to The Da Vinci Code are taking the film too seriously, telling the Evening Standard: "We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown.

"But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.

"If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you'd be making a very big mistake.

"It's a good story and a lot of fun... all it is is dialogue. That never hurts."

The Da Vinci Code book has sold more than 40 million copies since it was published in 2003. The film, released by Sony Pictures division Columbia Pictures, is set to be one of the year's most successful when it is released worldwide on 19 May.

From Hanks comments to the off the cuff remarks of commentators like Fox News Channel’s Sheppard Smith follow a similar theme – “Lighten up! It’s just a movie! None of this is real anyway!”

That seems a sensible take on the controversy, until we consider that The DaVinci Code seems to be both a movie and a book that tries to have it both ways. The novel begins with this serious statement of scholastic integrity –

"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate" (p. 1).

At face value this opener gives the impression that the historical basis for this fictional novel has been meticulously researched and confirmed. But when Dan Brown has been forced to face some serious errors in his book, the “Hooey defense” once again comes to the forefront. Consider this insightful analysis from Mark D. Roberts.

Curiously enough, Dan Brown seems not to have read his own first page. His own website asks Brown, "But doesn't the novel's 'fact' page claim that every single word in this novel is historical fact?" [MDR note: What a ridiculous question!], Here is Brown's answer:

If you read the "FACT" page, you will see it clearly states that the documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel all exist. The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those ideas is left to the reader.

Hmmm. Actually, his "FACT" page says that "all descriptions" of these things are true, not that they merely exist. When Teabing describes an ancient document, Dan Brown the author suggests that his description is factually true. Dan Brown the webmaster suggests only that the document exists. Will the real Dan Brown please stand up?

In fact, the real Dan Brown has made known his personal views on the purportedly historical background to his novel. And there's little doubt that he believes the stuff Leigh Teabing feeds to Sophie Neveu is historical fact. For example, Brown's website asks him, "The topic of this novel might be considered controversial. Do you fear repercussions?" Brown answers:

 

FAQ: Does Dan Brown himself believe that his fictionalized "history" of Jesus and early Christianity is true?

 

No. As I mentioned earlier, the secret I reveal is one that has been whispered for centuries. It is not my own. Admittedly, this may be the first time the secret has been unveiled within the format of a popular thriller, but the information is anything but new.

Notice, Dan Brown "reveals" a secret that is really true, and that has been known for centuries, but not widely.

In an interview with bookreporter.com, Brown revealed more of his personal beliefs regarding Jesus and early Christianity. Question: Is this book anti-Christian? Answer:

No. This book is not anti-anything. It's a novel. I wrote this story in an effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me. The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider The Da Vinci Code an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate.

Note: Brown wrote "to explore certain aspects of Christian history."

Bookreporter.com Question: What do you think of clerical scholars attempting to "disprove" The Da Vinci Code? [MDR note: It's not just clerical scholars, but academic scholars as well.] Answer:

The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force.

Note: Brown could have said. These folks are crazy. My novel is just a novel. What's their problem? Instead he said, "These authors and I obviously disagree." Upon what do they disagree? On the historical facts. Brown really believes the stuff he puts into the mouth of Leigh Teabing.

In an interview in a National Geographic documentary on The Da Vinci Code, Brown added:

I began as a skeptic. As I started researching Da Vinci Code I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer.

So, the reader who takes Teabing's revelations as historical fact, and who reads the "FACT" page as indicating that the novel is based on supposedly solid historical data, is not naïve and mistaken. In fact, this reader is tracking perfectly with Brown, who believes his novel reveals a secret about Jesus that is historically true, and a perspective on early Christianity that tells the real story.

Given the influence of The Da Vinci Code, and the tendency for millions of readers to believe the Dan Brown/Leigh Teabing view of Jesus and early Christian history, it's necessary to deal with part of The Da Vinci Code as if it were a work of non-fiction. The "What, me worry?" approach isn't possible for those of us who care about the truth, not to mention the truth about Jesus, His nature and mission.

So is The DaVinci Code history, or “hooey”? The fact that the writer who created it, and the main actor who will bring it to the screen can’t seem to agree should be a red flag to anyone going to the Cineplex or the book store looking to find truth. In the midst of all this confusion the directness of the opening words of the book of Luke meet us like a fresh breeze of clarity and conviction.

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)


Scott's Blog - 5/11/06

In Oprah We Trust?

There are media personalities, and then there are phenomenon's.

Oprah Winfrey is a phenomenon.

Consider these comments from the USA Today’s article “The Divine Miss Winfrey”.

"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., who has written two papers analyzing the religious aspects of Winfrey. "Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality."

Comedian and actor Jamie Foxx half jokingly took this idea to another level –

"What you have is something nobody can describe," Foxx said to Winfrey on the air. Then he explained about how he told Vibe magazine: "You're going to get to heaven and everyone's waiting on God and it's going to be Oprah Winfrey."

He told her she has "different gears" than most people. "You're on the top of the world, and we really do watch and listen for everything you do and say to kind of get our lives together. It's the truth."

It is human nature to love a good rags to riches story, and there is no doubt that Oprah is a living breathing poster child of a life that has made the journey from abject poverty to the pinnacle of media power. There is a sincerity and accessibility to her personality that draws us in.

But are these qualities enough to qualify as a spiritual leader? And it is a fair question to ask, where is Oprah leading her followers?

From a Biblical perspective, Oprah has lead her audience down some troubling paths. Her wholehearted promotion of  “A Course In Miracles” is a classic case in point. What was Oprah endorsing before her audience?

In 1965 a Jewish atheistic psychologist from Columbia University began to channel messages from a spirit she believed to be Jesus. She ultimately produced, or she says Jesus revealed to her, well over a thousand pages of revelation during the next seven years.

According to her testimony, Helen Schucman had a difficult relationship with her department head at the university. In an attempt to move beyond their differences, they set out on a journey to find a base of common agreement. Schucman began having "highly symbolic dreams" and experiencing "strange images." Her colleague encouraged her to transcribe the content of these phenomena so they might understand them better.

As she began to write, she was surprised to see "This is a course in miracles" appear on the paper. She went on to say that this was her introduction to the "Voice." This voice began to give her rapid inner dictation that she took down in shorthand.

According to the dictated material, the voice of The Course was Jesus. As a result of the influence Christianity has had on humanity, The Course chose Christian terminology to convey its message. A 1977 pamphlet published by the Foundation For Inner Peace states "its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher"- -in other words, their personal "Spirit Guide."

There are several individuals who play key roles in spreading the message of The Course. Perhaps the most prominent is Marianne Williamson. A former lounge singer and now its most celebrated guru, she has become The Course's media star, appearing on numerous television programs. Her most-watched and persuasive appearance was on Oprah. She has been Oprah's guest on several occasions. Because of her personal interest in New Age philosophy, Oprah Winfrey purchased a thousand copies of A Return To Love, Williamson's book, to give to her television audiences.

The USA Today article indicates that Oprah has since distanced her self from such New Age style teaching, but the involvement and promotion of the clearly occult oriented “A Course In Miracles” should send out a warning. Oprah may be entertaining, inspirational and wildly successful. But her program is no substitute for solid Bible teaching.

Paul warns of a time when God’s truth will be tossed aside and feelings based spirituality will rule the day.

 1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (II Timothy 4:1-5)

Here we see the challenge of our day, as well as the cure. An ounce of Bible based discernment can be worth a pound of pain and heartache that comes with spiritual deception. We need to be wise enough to remember to bring with us a biblically based ability to separate truth from error not just when we sit in church, or interact with door to door religious salesmen. But also when we turn on the television set!


Scott's Blog - 5/10/06

A Giant Sized Question

On Wednesdays we like to devote our blog to tackling questions from the Scott Richards Live E-mail Bag. Today’s question is undoubtedly (and somewhat unexpectedly!) one of the most commonly asked both by e-mail and live on the air.

Hello,
I want to thank you for your program I really enjoy listening to it. I have a question about the sons of God spoken of in chapter 6 of Genesis. Who are they? Are they fallen angels who mingled with women to produce the giants spoken of in Genesis? Please give me your take on this issue and e-mail me an answer.

Thank you, God Bless!
Johnny

Thanks for the question Johnny. Genesis 6 gives a description of conditions prior to the flood of Noah that are interesting indeed.

Genesis 6

The Wickedness and Judgment of Man
1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive[a] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

There are excellent Bible teachers that conclude that because the term “sons of God” applies to angels in the book of Job, that this is a description of the intermarriage of demons with human women. Some suppose that this was an attempt to create an unredeemable race of human/angel hybrids making the saving work of Messiah impossible. (Hebrews 2:16) This point of view concludes that these are the angels under God’s special judgment as recorded in II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6. For a good summary of the fallen angel view, visit http://www.khouse.org/articles/1997/110/

There is another view of the events of Genesis 6 that I find more compelling. Following the fall of man, Genesis charts the course of two key descendants of Adam and Eve – Cain, the unrepentant murder of his brother Abel and Seth, the son “appointed” (the meaning of the name in Hebrew) by God to take Abel’s place.

Cain’s descendants are described in Genesis 4, and it is clear they followed in their father’s footsteps (Genesis 4:19-24). The line of Seth is described in Genesis 4:25-5:32 and seems to follow after the example of Abel. The two most noteworthy members of this line are Enoch who “walked with God and was not for the Lord took him” (Genesis 5:24) and Noah who found grace in the eyes of God (Genesis 6:8). From this track record, some conclude that the phrase “the sons of God” refer to this godly line of Seth

The crisis of Genesis 6 begins when the sons of God “saw the daughters of men that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” The “daughters of men” could refer to the worldliness of these women who were the descendants of the God rejecting line of Cain. The message was clear. From the very beginning being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” brings about spiritual collapse, in this case so severe it was judged by a worldwide flood.

Why is this view so compelling? First, because of the relationship described  here: While the phrase “sons of God” does refer to angels in Job 1, regular human beings are also called the very same thing in the scriptures. (Isaiah 43:6, I John 3:1)

Second, because of the restriction described by Jesus: Angels are neither married nor given in marriage. (Matthew 22:30) It is important to see that the unions described in Genesis 6 are formal marriage relationships, not the product of sexual assault. Third, the rebuke described by God in the fourth book written by Moses, Numbers. In chapter 25, we see the people of Israel almost destroying themselves by entering into relationships with idol worshipping Moabite women. Could the sons of God/daughters of men incident be a historical heads up for those who would make the same mistake? Finally, the reappearance of the Nephilim  argues against the angelic position. When the people of Israel scouted out the Promised Land, the majority report in Numbers 13 included this interesting detail –

 32So they gave out to the sons of Israel (A)a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is (B)a land that devours its inhabitants; and (C)all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.

 33"There also we saw the (D)Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and (E)we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

If the creation of these giants, the Nephilim, was the cause of the flood, why do we see them showing up again after this judgment?

For those reasons I tend to favor the identification of the sons of God as the godly line of Seth. As a pastor I have sadly seen this same spiritual error create intense heartache for God’s people even in our day. No wonder the New Testament includes this warning for us today –

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[b] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:


      “ I will dwell in them
      And walk among them.
      I will be their God,
      And they shall be My people.”[c]

 17 Therefore

      “ Come out from among them
      And be separate, says the Lord.
      Do not touch what is unclean,
      And I will receive you.”[d]
       18 “ I will be a Father to you,
      And you shall be My sons and daughters,
      Says the LORD Almighty.”[e]


Scott's Blog - 5/9/06

Careful Who You Curse!

The speech read like something from a Left Behind Series novel.  A crazed head of a Middle Eastern super state openly calling for the destruction of Israel. But this was no work of fiction.

As The Gulf Times reported the event –

Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off map

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly called yesterday for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and lashed out at Muslim nations which recognize the Jewish state, setting off a storm of protests.

The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” the president told a conference in Tehran entitled ‘The World without Zionism’.“As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” said Ahmadinejad, referring to a slogan which Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini used before his death in 1989.

The problem with making over the top statements to please a bloodthirsty crowd is that people tend to take you seriously.

People like George W. Bush

Or  people like former Israeli premiere Shimon Peres

Or even more importantly, the Lord Himself.

God made a significant promise to the founding father of Israel, Abraham –

And I will bless those who bless you,

And the one who curses you I will curse And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)

He repeated the promise through His prophet Zechariah.

For thus says the LORD of hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

The New Testament shows us that God’s commitment to His people hasn’t changed.

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

The Bible tells us that God has a special plan for the people of Israel, a plan that will not be thwarted by saber rattling heads of state. In days like these the words of Psalm 122:6 seem more relevant than ever!

 6Pray for the (G)peace of Jerusalem:
         "May they prosper who (H)love you.


Scott's Blog - 5/8/06

Good News From the Front Lines!

There has been a huge debate in this country over the coverage of the Global War on Terror. Charges have been made that the mainstream media purposefully skews its coverage to highlight problems and hide signs of progress. Cable outlets like the Fox News Channel have been accused of painting a far too optimistic picture of the reality on the ground in heated centers of conflict like Iraq and Afghanistan.

But is there a reality in this conflict that both sides are missing?

Not a reality that can be measured by body counts or illustrated by video of an explosion.

But just as critical to the outcome of this battle we have engaged in as any military campaign, or capture of any terrorist leader?

The apostle Paul vividly describes this unseen reality:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

The Bible tells us that underneath any physical conflict we see in this world, is a spiritual conflict, a battle for the hearts, minds and the eternal destinies of men.

It is impossible to understand the Global War On Terror without grasping this spiritual component. And at first glance it would appear that Islam is getting the best of this battle. We see reports of the explosive growth of Islam, and its track record of victories, as it fills the vacuum left by traditional Christendom in Europe.

But what if there was more to this battle than what is generally reported? As WWII correspondent Gabriel Heater used to say, “There’s good news tonight!”

Consider this report from the web site www.Littlegreenfootballs.com

At The American Thinker, here’s a surprising report on Islam in Africa, as a Libyan Islamic scholar reveals that Muslims are converting to Christianity at the rate of 16,000 apostates per day:

This translation  of a televised conversation reveals a rare glimpse into the outlook of Muslim scholars who are concerned about Christianity’s growth. The invited guest is Sheikh Ahmad Al Katani; the president of The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law in Libya, which is an institution specializing in graduating imams and Islamic preachers.

Katani starts off describing the overall problem:

Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa’s main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, the number of Catholics has increased from one million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let us round off that number to 330 million in the year 2000.

As to how that happened, well there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed ...

From what I have heard from reliable sources, six million may be too low. Reliable accounts say that one hundred thousand Africans convert to Christianity per day, though not all of them come from Islam.  Then Katani says Muslims should build schools before mosques, in order to build the worshipper (Muslim) before the building. Why? To stop the dangerous “Christian missionary octopus.”

What does this tell us about the real war on terror? Could it be that it won’t be won by bullets and bombs, but Bibles?

What can we do to help in the spiritual component of this battle?

Pray – We not only need to pray for our troops who put their lives on the line in the battle against Islamofascism, but also ask the Lord to touch the hearts and minds of the unreached people who haven’t had the chance to hear that God loves them and sent His Son to set them free from the oppression of religion.

Participate – Seek to support those ministries that are making a difference in areas like Africa www.samaritanspurse.org and Asia www.gfa.org.

Maintain a Biblical Perspective – Remember there is a whole lot more going on in this world than what meets the eye.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, (II Corinthians 10:3-5)


Scott's Blog - 5/5/06

What Would Jesus Watch?

There is no doubt the impending release of The DaVinci Code movie is going to raise many challenging questions for believers.  But one of the toughest has nothing to do with half baked distortions of the Gospel or glaring demonstrations of historical ignorance.

In my mind the toughest spiritual question I faced in this controversy is also one of the most practical – will I go to see the movie?

What do you think?

There is a case to be made that believers need to go if we are to have any chance of responding to the questions of nonbelievers and shaken Christians with honesty and integrity. We can easily find ourselves launching into a well thought out defense of the New Testament and the character of Christ only to be brought up short when the person we are sharing with says, “Yeah. But have you seen it?”

Well…No.”

How can you possibly criticize something you haven’t seen? Isn’t that a little prejudiced?”

What will we do then?

The opposite reaction also carries quite a bit of weight. One can share effectively about the hope we have in Christ with a heroin addict without having first shot up. Why line the pockets of Dan Brown, Opie, Tom Hanks and Sony Pictures while they make false doctrine a popcorn-chewing thrill ride for all ages? Hollywood will crank out as much blasphemy as they believe will be commercially successful.

Personally, I have decided I will not attend a showing of The DaVinci Code.

Why?

First, because I host a daily program devoted to tackling such issues, I have already read the book. I have spent considerable time consulting excellent research sources that effectively answer the accusations Dan Brown makes against the Gospel.

Unless it becomes apparent there is a radical departure from the book (on a line with Tom Hanks stopping in mid scene and declaring, “Dr. Teabing, even Forrest Gump knows more about biblical history than you do!”), I have no reason to spend two hours and $20 on a rehash.

Secondly, I don’t want my attending a movie to be confused with an endorsement of blasphemy. I can already hear the morning news shows cooing about the great box office this spiritual bomb will haul in. Sony Pictures will be launching something like “The DaVinci Code II: Meet The Heavenly In Laws” so fast it will make our heads spin.

I would rather send the $20 to Samaritan’s purse where it can do some good than to contribute to the hardening of hearts and sowing of doubt in the spiritually weak.

Does that make the commitment of some to see the film for the purpose of sharing with others wrong, or sinful? Not at all.  Again, this can be a Romans 14:5 situation – “Let everyone be convinced in his own mind.”

But however we decide to answer this most practical and personal of all questions presented by the DaVinci Code, let’s approach it prayerfully, scripturally, even devotionally – Will this draw me closer to my Savior? How will this effect my love relationship with Him and His Word? If the Rapture were to happen when I was sitting in the theater, would I feel embarrassed I the presence of the Lord?

Remember the advice of King David,

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;

I hate the work of those who fall away;

It shall not fasten its grip on me. (Psalm101:3)


Scott's Blog - 5/4/06

The Frog in the Kettle

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the frog in the kettle. If you heat up a kettle of water to the boiling point and try to toss the poor creature in, it will immediately hop right out. But frogs are cold-blooded animals with the ability to adapt to gradual change in temperature. If a frog is placed in a luke warm kettle of water it will make itself quite comfortable in that environment. But I’m told if the temperature is slowly raised the frog will continue to adapt. It won’t notice the difference or react until it is boiled alive.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit frog-in-the-kettle like as I looked at the major stories in the news this week.

An earthquake of staggering proportions rocked the South Pacific.

Although later denied, a prominent commander of the Iranian Revolutionary guards threatened to strike Israel if the US intervened militarily in their development of nuclear weapons.

The rising threat on an avian flu pandemic continues to worry experts.

Students of Biblical prophecy are familiar with Jesus’ teaching concerning the warning signs of the immanency of His return.

Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:10-11)

Matthew 24:8 adds the detail that these signs are the beginning of birth pains. There are two outstanding characteristics of labor pains. They increase in frequency and intensity as the time of the big event draws near. They build to a crescendo, and then seem to subside for a time.

It would seem that this has been quite a week for birth pains. But isn’t it interesting how adaptable we are to these kinds of crisis conditions? Like the frog in the kettle we can easily fail to take these warning signs to heart.

So what are we to do in light of the fact that the outrageous is getting to be seen as the ordinary?

Remember the Lord’s instructions –

"But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)

We need to be aware that there is no prophecy of Scripture that remains to be fulfilled prior to Jesus coming for His people at the Rapture.

We also need to remember that every day the Lord delays His return is an opportunity to share His love with others.

Let’s live our lives in light of Jesus’ promise to return, making a consistent, close and committed walk with Christ our top priority.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.  The night is almost gone, and (Q)the day is near Therefore let us lay aside (R)the deeds of darkness and put on (S)the armor of light.  Let us (T)behave properly as in the day, (U)not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But (V)put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (W)in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:10-14)


Scott's Blog - 5/3/06

The SRL E-Mail Bag!

As you know if you are a regular listener to Scott Richards Live, we encourage our audience to connect with us by way of the inter net at Studio@Scottrichardslive.com.

Because of the enthusiastic response to the program we are often so busy with live callers that we have few opportunities to respond to your e-mail questions.

The suggestion was made to include a regular response to your e-mail questions here on our daily blog feature. Every Wednesday we will open up our SRL E-Mail Bag and feature a number of your great questions and biblical answers and links that can help you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our first letter comes from Scott –

Ø      Scott,
>  
> In Numbers 31, the children of Israel go to war against the
Midianites, and bring back spoils of war, which include permission to
keep virgin women as captives, but not the women that have known a man
intimately, which evidently Balaam used this information to cause Israel
to stumble.  (See Numbers 31:15-18).  To me this seems kind of abrasive
and well, a little contrary to the New Testament view of women.  The
following subsequent verse 19-24 talks about how these men that killed
during this war must cleanse themselves and be put outside the camp, so
on and so forth.
>
> My question is how do you reconcile this seemingly contradictory view
of women with other passages in both the Old and the New Testament that
is very pro-women oriented?
>
> Thank you for your time and consideration.  I look forward to either
reading or hearing a response from you.
>
> In Christ,
> Scott B

Ø      Dear Scott,

Thanks so much for your excellent question. There are many very
challenging passages dealing with the conquest of the land, and this
certainly fits the description. Interestingly this incident does
dovetail quite nicely with the high view of women expressed throughout
the Bible.
Moses anger and subsequent instructions arose from the incident in which
Balaam advised the king of Moab to send women into the camp to lead
Israel into sin. The women left alive included those who almost caused
Israel's destruction. A distinction was made concerning the virgins
because they could not have been a part of this grievous sin which God
was judging. Obviously the wiping out of this entire people group seems
harsh at first glance. But when we begin to understand from archeology
the level of depravity of the Canaanites, as well as God's great
patience with them (see Genesis 15:12-16 - nearly 700 years to repent),
the question becomes not why did God act so harshly, but why did he show
such great patience? The answer, of course, is found in II Peter 3:9.

Ø      The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.


Scott's Blog - 5/2/06

Seize the Day!

It has been said that there are three kinds of people in this world – Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who ask, “What happened?”

I’ve come to believe the secret to an exciting Christian life is to be right in the middle of things when God makes something happen. Be prepared, be perceptive and be ready to be amazed.

I am convinced that God is getting ready to pull off one His patented Romans 8:28.

With the release of The DaVinci Code movie growing closer by the day there is a very good possibility that we as believers in Christ will get the opportunity to talk with many people about the subject of Jesus Christ. If we are prepared to show how the message of the Bible is infinitely superior to the shoddy “scholarship”  that underpins this movie, we will have a front row view of a wonderful work of God!

How can we be prepared? As you can see some wonderfully gifted scholars have done the heavy lifting for us. A wonderful summary of the issues and answers that lie ahead for us is found on the outstanding web site of Dr. Mark D. Roberts.

Take the time to read through the issues Mark Roberts presents. It will be time well spent. You may find your own faith on a more sure and solid footing of fact. You might find yourself feeling a surge of boldness to share the clear message of Jesus in a time of unprecedented confusion. And you may just find yourself leading a person or two into a living relationship with the true and living God who gave His Son to save us!

What could be more exciting than that?


Scott's Blog - 5/1/06

I have been told that the Chinese word for “crisis” is a combination of two characters – one meaning “danger”, the other “opportunity”.

I can think of no better way to describe the situation that is bearing down on Bible believing Christians in our day. Sony Pictures, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are bringing to the big screen a movie whose basic message is expressed in these words –

..almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” (The DaVinci Code, p.235)

The challenge we face is a fairly simple and unavoidable one – Does our faith in Jesus as He is revealed in the New Testament stand up in the marketplace of ideas (or the local Cineplex for that matter!)?

The situation we find ourselves in reminds me of a regularly scheduled challenge to faith that I used to face as a student at the University of Arizona.

This crisis would usually announce itself as I ate lunch with some friends in my fraternity. Someone would walk into the dining room and break the news that the mall preachers were back at Speaker’s Corner.

This meant a week of fire and brim stone oratory, snarky exchanges with the crowds, interspersed with just enough off key acapella versions of hymns guaranteed to convince people that Christians were crazy.

Sure enough, as I made my way to an eleven o’clock class, the show was on. As I walked past this spiritual dog and pony show I could spot at least five or six friends that I had carefully attempted to share with, laughing, pointing, making sarcastic comments. 

All I could think to do was to make myself scarce, wait for this storm to blow over, and commit myself to damage control over the next few weeks.

Later that day I ran into a Christian friend at the student union. As we sat down to grab a quick snack, I vented my frustrations – “Talk about spiritual warfare! I’m sure they mean well, but these mall preachers stay long enough to harden the hearts of everyone I share with and then blow doors.”

My friend, who was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, and was really gifted in evangelism smiled and said, “Yeah. But God can work in the most unlikely situations. Why don’t we meet down at Speaker’s Corner tomorrow and see what happens?”

This sounded as productive as handing out 2-for one hamburger coupons at an animal rights rally, but I agreed.

Lo and behold, the next day came and the show started. Lots of Old King James insults flying in the air. Lots of highly reasoned four letter replies from the crowd. What good could possibly come out of this?

My friend tugged at my arm and pointed to a student who was really taking the whole thing in. He then walked over and said, “Hey! What do you think of these mall preachers?”

The student laughed and said, “Whatever they are selling, I ain’t buying.”

Then my friend said something that stunned both the student and me.

Isn’t it amazing how differently Jesus related to people?”

The student, looking genuinely curious said, “What do you mean?”

My friend had seized the day. He began to show how Jesus dealt with people who were lost with compassion and truth. He reserved His words of condemnation for the religiously self-satisfied.

Twenty minutes later, that student had a whole lot more to consider concerning Jesus than he ever expected. My friend had turned a crisis into an opportunity.

I can’t help but feel we will face a very similar set of circumstances in the days ahead. Let’s be prepared to focus the conversation back to where it belongs. A great place to begin is by getting a copy of Josh McDowell’s resource The DaVinci Code: A Quest for Answers.

No doubt like the visits of the mall preachers to campus, there are real spiritual dangers ahead. But there are also great opportunities to both strengthen our faith ad share effectively with others. More on that tomorrow

 

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