Zombies in the Bible

People do not read the Bible as much as they did in times past, and I think that that is unfortunate. I say this not only for the obvious spiritual reasons but also because a good deal of what makes up Western Civilization comes directly from the Bible. This includes much of our art and literature, and many social and political ideas. I also think that anyone who has never read the Bible is missing out on some of the World’s greatest literature. There are some wonderful stories in the Bible.

I think the Bible has something for everyone. There is romance, sex, and violence. There are heroes and villains. Civilizations rise and fall. There are even zombies in the Bible.

Yes, zombies. Read this passage from the book of Zechariah.

12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. (Zech 14:12-15)

Doesn’t that sound like a zombie apocalypse?

Here Ezekiel raises an army of the undead.

1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1-10)

And here Jesus resurrects his friend Lazarus as a Zombie.

32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:32-43)

All right, I was actually kidding about the zombies. Still, there are a lot of interesting things in the Bible and it’s worth the trouble to read.

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage. (1 Samuel 18:24-27)

How would you like to be the one who has to count those foreskins?

Bah Humbug!

Gerard van Honthorst Adoration of the Shepherd...
It wasn't on December 25.

I wonder how many people who quote Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous comment about Christmas know what a humbug actually is. It’s not a word we commonly use nowadays. According to thefreedictionary.com a humbug is;

1. Something intended to deceive; a hoax or fraud.
2. A person who claims to be other than what he or she is; an impostor.
3. Nonsense; rubbish.
4. Pretense; deception.
In one sense Scrooge was absolutely right; Christmas is a humbug. Don’t worry! I am not turning into a Grinch. What I mean is that Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a humbug in that he was almost certainly not born on December 25. The general consensus seems to be that a birth in the spring or early summer is far more likely.
The truth is that the early Christians were not greatly concerned with the nativity. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection were far more important to them. Of the four Gospels, only Matthew and Luke provide us with any information at all about Jesus’s life before his public ministy and they only give out scattered anecdotes. It may not be until as late as the fourth century that the birth of Jesus was cerebrated. So how did they decide on December 25th?
If you live in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, you may have noticed that the weather is getting colder. The days are getting shorter and the Sun seems to be growing weaker with each passing day.We are approaching the Winter Solstice, of course.  It wouldn’t take much for primitive people to imagine the Sun growing weaker and weaker and the forces of night and winter defeating the Sun.That had never happened before, but who’s to say that this year wouldn’t be different. It must have been a source of profound relief and celebration as the solstice came and the days started to grow longer. Naturally, nearly every culture has some festival around this time of year. Here is a list of some winter festivals. Notice how many share a theme of the triumph of good over evil.
The Romans, in particular had a solstice holiday, known as Saturnalia which was much like Christmas, including gift giving. In the late Roman Empire the cult of the Unconquered Sun was very popular, and of course, the Winter Solstice was the day on which the Sun was victorious. The  fourth and fifth century Christians did not want to miss out on the fun, nor did they want to participate in pagan ceremonies, so they adapted the winter festivals of many nations into a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Some Christian writers even made an explicit connection between the birth of the Sun and the birth of the Son. Cyprian wrote, “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born” and John Chrysostom, “They call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .?”
So, is Christmas a humbug? Should Christians celebrate the day? Not all Christians do. The Puritans didn’t, either because it was too “Catholic” or it was too rowdy for them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t either because Christmas is too pagan for them. The churches of Christ have no official celebration on Christmas because it is not in the Bible, and if it isn’t in the Bible, they don’t do it. Individual members do celebrate Christmas. For myself, I don’t think there is any harm in Christmas and it is my favorite day of the year. I have to admit to being a little amused when I see posters demanding we keep “Christ in Christmas”, when I consider that Christ wasn’t originally a part of Christmas. I do wish that people would feel a little more “Christmas Spirit” the other 364 days of the year.

Did Jesus Die for Klingons?

This might seem a strange question to ask, yet they are asking it at the 100 year Starship Symposium. To be more precise in an address to the symposium Professor Christian Weideman discussed the possible implications of discovering extraterrestrial life on the world’s religions, especially Christianity. Here is the story in the Daily Mail.

A Christian professor has told a U.S. Government-backed conference on space travel that the discovery of aliens would lead to significant problems for his own religion.

In a speech entitled ‘Did Jesus die for Klingons too?’, German academic Christian Weidemann outlined the possible ramifications that the ultimate space discovery would engender.

Speaking at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando Florida, Professor Weidemann also attempted to outline how the inevitable theological conflict might be resolved.

Weidemann, a professor at the Ruhr-University Bochum, said that the death of Christ, some 2,000 years ago, was designed to save all creation.

However, the whole of creation, as defined by scientists, includes 125 billion galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars in each galaxy.

That means that if intelligent life exists on other planets, then Jesus or God would have to have visited them too, and sacrificed himself equally for Martian-kind as well as mankind.

The alternative, posits Weidemann, is that Jesus chose earthlings as the single race to save and abandoned every other life form in the galaxy.

Or, it could have been because humans were the only race who had sinned and required ‘saving’, said Weidemann, who added: ‘You can grasp the conflict.’

‘If there are extra-terrestrial intelligent beings at all, it is safe to assume that most of them are sinners too,’ he said, according to Space.com.

However, the conflict of theology would be more of a problem for Christians than it would for other religions.

Hindus believe in multiple gods, and would therefore not have an issue with Weidemann’s suggestion about multiple incarnations of God, and in the Muslim world Muhammad was not God incarnate, simple a prophet, which would also allow for the ‘multiple God theory’.

To be honest, I really don’t see why this would be a problem for Christians in particular. I have always taken it for granted that there are intelligent extraterrestrials out there. I simply cannot imagine that God would create this huge universe all for the benefit of the inhabitants of one planet.
In fact, C. S. Lewis has already explored the theological implications in his Space Trilogy. In these books, the protagonist Ransom travels to Mars and Venus. He discovers that Earth is fallen and therefore cut off from the rest of the universe, hence the “Silent Planet. Mars is inhabited by a race of angel-like creatures while Venus is still in an edenic period since its inhabitants have never fallen.
Lewis also dealt with the matter in the Chronicles of Narnia. As he explained, Aslan is not an allegory of Jesus. He is Jesus, as he might appear in a world of talking animals. In our world, he took the form of a man. In Narnia he is a lion.
So, did Jesus die for the Klingons? I really couldn’t say, having never met any Klingons. I would speculate that either other intelligent races have never fallen, and therefore be without sin, or they have fallen and God has made provision for their atonement in a manner appropriate to each race.

Campus Crusade for Christ Changes Name

From the Appealdemocrat. The Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to “Cru”. What is Cru supposed to mean?

After 60 years, officials announced Tuesday night that the international evangelical ministry is changing its name – to “Cru.”

“This is the right time to embrace a new name, and … this name meets our objective of achieving a greater level of effectiveness in ministry,” said Steve Douglass, the organization’s president. “This decision has been saturated with prayer. We only want what God wants for us … We believe this new name will position us to connect better with the next generation.”

Chosen from 1,600 suggestions, the name already has been used on a majority of the group’s U.S. campus ministries since the mid-1990s. Though some followers worried in online forums the name might be confused with a rowing club, the organization said change was due.

“Has the old name hurt the organization? We do believe so,” said Steve Sellers, vice president of the expansive Orlando-based organization. “The name alienation among the general population was significant.”

I can see that Christ might alienate some people. We wouldn’t want to think that Cru has anything to do with Christianity.

If the directors of Cru are concerned that having the name of Christ in their name might make them unpopular, perhaps they should refer to the words of Jesus, who warned his disciples they should not expect to be popular.

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ (John 15:18-25)

And John writes,

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:15-27)

And I will finish with this warning.

  8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.        (Luke 12:8-9)

 

Ban the Bible

From Jihadwatch and Assyrian International News agency. In Pakistan the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party is trying to get the Bible banned because of its blasphemous and pornographic content.

Adam and Eve sans fig leaves, Lot getting drunk, Jesus stopping a stoning . . . This is all too much for Muslims represented in Pakistan’s parliament by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party. They view Bible stories such as these to be “pornographic” slurs against the biblical figures whom they claim as their holy prophets. They are now demanding that the country ban the Bible because of such “blasphemy” and exact a “punishment.” There seems no limit to what could be considered an offense against Islam under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

At a press conference on May 30 in Lahore, party leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi informally petitioned the Supreme Court, complaining that the Bible includes stories about some of the biblical prophets that include “a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures.” A newspaper reports: “Farooqi cited a number of [supposedly pornographic] scriptures from the Bible, saying such ‘insertions’ strongly offend the Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem, as part of religious belief and never even think of committing any blasphemy against them.”

The verses in question are:

Genesis 19:33–36, 29: 23, 32–35, 38:18

Exodus 32:2–6

1 Kings 13:2–29

2 Samuel 11:2–27, 13:1–22

Matthew 1:13, 16:23, 26:14–47

They have a point. Many times the prophets and  apostles in the Bible are not presented in a very good light. This is because the Bible presents these people the way they were, sins and warts and all. God makes use of some very imperfect people to accomplish His will.

In the Koran, by contrast, the various prophets, Abraham, Moses, Jesus are presented as ideal Moslems, reciting the same message as Mohammed. There is little sense of any individual personality for any of them. Some of the best parts of the Bible are when the prophet, etc must confront his own weaknesses and overcome them. David and Bathsheba, Jacob and his poor treatment of Esau, Peter’s denial of Jesus, etc. Religion and theology aside, this is one of the things that makes the Koran far inferior, in the literary sense, to the Bible.

Easter

He is risen

The Resurrection
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

Good Friday Crucifixions

In the Phillipines, some people celebrate Good Friday by nailing themselves to crosses.

Yes, they actually have themselves nailed to crosses. They only stay up on the cross for about ten minutes, but still, it has to be agonizing. They also have their backs whipped until they are bloody, just ass Jesus was flogged by the Romans. They do this out of piety or to fulfill a sacred vow or panata.  As Catholic Archbishop Rolando Tirona explained;

“The panata becomes so personal that nobody can correct or change them. They promise they will do this if their sick grandmother gets better and when she gets better, they say they have to fulfil their vows,”

The Catholic Church is against this practice, but there is little they can do to stop these people.

One of the most outspoken critics of the bloody rituals, Catholic Archbishop Rolando Tirona of a Manila district, said they were a misreading of church teachings, but he conceded there were powerful cultural reasons behind them.

This certainly is a misunderstanding of Christian teachings. It is entirely unnecessary. Jesus died on the cross precisely so we wouldn’t have to. You cannot bargain with God. I don’t see how He benefits from someone suffering nor would he ask such a price in return for making someone’s grandmother get better. This is simply the worst sort of superstition.

To make matters worse, it has also become a tourist attraction in some parts of the Phillipines.

Enaje said he heard that other Philippine villages were paying people to be crucified, but insisted that things were different in Cutud.

“The people in Cutud are sincere. We aren’t doing it for the money,” he said.

But as the religious ceremonies went on in Cutud, dozens of vendors hawked souvenirs, hats, cold drinks and snacks to the crowds of curious locals and Western tourists.

German photojournalist Gunther Deichmann, a longtime resident of the Philippines, said the event was not as genuine as it had once been.

“It’s a little bit more like a carnival now. Maybe 20 years ago it was more realistic,” he said.

District tourism officer Ching Pangilinan denied church charges of commercilisation, saying local authorities had an obligation to manage the event to prevent tourists from mobbing the place or being robbed.

“People just come whether we promote it or not. So tourism assistance is necessary,” she said.

Good Friday

I always wondered why the day Jesus was crucified is called “Good” Friday. Being nailed to a cross could hardly be described as “good”. Perhaps it should be called “Bad” Friday, or “This Day Really Stinks” Friday. I finally got around to looking it up and it seems that the “good” is an obsolete definition of the word which means holy or pious. That makes a whole lot more sense.