Challenging our methodologies

Aractus 28, August, 2010

In my last article I touched on a subject that transverses several of my interests; God, the Bible, Jewish history, Christian traditions, Jewish traditions, Christian history, the power of assumption and conjecture, the ignoring of evidence. Today we’re going to have a look at our methodology; something that transverses many of my other interests: Science, Health, Humanity…

I’ve been reading a lot and I mean a LOT of liberal theological views lately. And most of them are sheer nonsense. With one had they will say “you have to consider the historical significance of the passage” and on the other they will say things like “no where in the Bible does it condemn this or that”. How can both the preceding statements be true at the same time?

Not that long ago I heard the argument purported that there’s no evidence that the Romans used crucifixion as a method of execution. Now, that’s a bit like being a holocaust denier really. There isn’t any question that crucifixion originally was not a method of execution, but of punishment – but that did change as we well know and all the historical evidence attests to this.

Recently I was dismayed at whether a Friday crucifixion is simply invented. Jesus said that he would give the “Sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:40) and that he would be “in the heart of the earth” for “three days and three nights”. Jesus was raised before daylight on Sunday, you only have to count – Friday (1), Saturday (2). Two days.

In my first blog article I mentioned that Scientologists are vehemently opposed to Psychology; and while they twist this to their advantage, there is no question that grave crimes have been committed in the name of this science. Grave crimes. David Reimer blew his brains out with a sawed off shotgun; after a life of being a guinea pig for psychologist John Money.

I hope that my words never hurt. I don’t mind if they offend, if they challenge, but I do not write to be hurtful. I may not, exactly, be very PC but I do believe that I’m entitled to hold my so-called “minority views”. Recently several people have challenged me on this. They have literally said “your view is the minority”. 90% of Australians prefer to enter “domestic relationships” to Marriage. I have friends in both actually (well, duh), so don’t think I’m some hermit who lives 400 years in the past. Fact of the matter is that the majority view is that Marriage is not a necessity in a meaningful relationship.

John Money believed so adamantly that gender is learned that when Reimer was only 8 months old he diagnosed Reimer for a sex change operation. The operation was performed about a year later, and his testicles were surgically removed. This was no “medical error”, no mistake. The botched circumcision which had initially damaged Reimer’s penis beyond repair was a mistake, but not this procedure. Money treated this case as an experiment for him to observe; Reimer was the victim of callous disregard. Callous disregard. I don’t say that lightly; Money was more interested in using Reimer to prove his own theory than he was of anything else, those were his intentions. The facts speak for themselves: “Brenda” was told when “she” was 14 he’d been born a baby boy; and “Brenda” almost immediately became David again, stopped taking hormone supplements and had surgery to produce a reconstructed penis. At this time, his identical twin brother was deeply depressed, his mother was suicidal and his father was an alcoholic. Despite all this, not to mention Reimer’s suicide when he was 38, Money still cited this case as a “success”.

The most common argument given to support a Friday crucifixion is the exhaustive use of the expression “on the third day” in the NT texts; thus overriding the “Sign of Jonah” and what Jesus actually “meant to say” was “a period of time that crosses three Hebrew days”. They claim “one day and one night” means “one day”. But why would you use an expression that is reversed? Hebrew days begin in the evening and end at sunset. You only have to open your Bible to Genesis 1 and start reading “and there was Evening and there was Morning the first day” same for second, etc. Evening comes first, it’s well known and established. They will cite 1 Samuel 30:12-13 to support their argument, but just read the passage for yourself; it clearly crosses three DAYS and three NIGHTS. In John’s Gospel Palm Sunday occurs five days before the Passover (see John 12:1, 12-13).

If we accept Palm Sunday took place on a Sunday then John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is crucified on a Thursday. It also alleviates the problem of a 33AD crucifixion, the date most supported by scholars who believe in a Friday crucifixion, since Herod died in 4BC if Jesus had been born in 4BC and died in 33AD he would have been 2-3 years older than expected. The “15th year of Tiberius” when Jesus started his 1-3 year ministry was in 28-29AD, it is simply not possible for the crucifixion to have taken place in 33AD. It is clear to me that Friday was simply believed by early Gentile Christians who had no detailed knowledge of Jewish tradition and probably “forgot” that Passover is a Sabbath day not necessarily a “Saturday”. 31AD is the most likely year. But we can’t know this for certain because we can only “guess” the Jewish calendar in those years; even in 33AD. It’s an educated guess, but still just a guess. The very fact that Christ eats his Passover a day early suggests that he is observing the Passover on the correct date. Nevertheless most people put Nisan 14 on a Thursday that year which would mean crucifixion takes place Wednesday 25 April 31AD.

Most people can’t get their head around the fact that the Jewish calendar was a “floating calendar”. They think we know with certainty what day was Nisan 1 simply by making astronomical predictions; but predicting in this manner makes 3BC the most likely date for Jesus’ birth even though Herod would have been dead. Monday 12 August 3BC marks the conjunction of Jupiter with Venus in Leo; but unless Herod lived until after this it isn’t a possible birth date for Jesus. And before Jesus birth we know that crucifixion was used as a form of non-lethal punishment. This argument is sometimes used particularly to discredit the account of nails being used in the ritual. However we have now discovered the remains of a crucified individual which still had a crucifixion nail in their heel; it appeared that they had trouble when trying to remove it because it had been meant; and so simply buried the man with the nail still in his heel bone.

In any case it is undeniable that thousands of Jews were crucified by Roman forces, the historical evidence is there. There are no pictures from living memory of crucifixions depicting the event, but doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, nor does it mean that nobody ever drew pictures of it at the time, which may still exist today or which may have been destroyed by Roman forces or through innumerable other methods.

The layers of argument in favour of abortion can be summarized by re-reading the second paragraph in this blog entry. It’s a woman’s right to choose; It is not condemned by the Bible; Denying abortion inflicts harm; The foetus is not a person yet. I’m actually surprised at the arguments used in favour of the “pro-choice” side. Especially the notion that it’s not Biblically immoral. If this isn’t a moral issue then it can be assed with science. If you want to discuss this in a clinical way then first be aware that from conception the embryo is genetically unique. If a person has a heartbeat are they dead? A foetus has a measurable heartbeat by about 18 days. But death is not easy to define. People have been “rescued” from the clutches of death after their heart has stopped beating; in some cases it has even happened on its own! How about brainwave activity? That is measurable in a foetus by about 40 days. If you used this criteria to oppose abortion then you would oppose the vast majority of abortions. If you use heartbeat criteria then you would oppose nearly all abortions. Here ends the clinical discussion.

All I’m endeavouring to establish here is that there isn’t a valid clinical argument to be made that no human life exists at the point of abortion; that’s absurd. It may not yet be able to survive on its own, but then neither can a newborn baby and last time I checked it’s still frowned upon to kill those; even though killing newborn babies (infanticide) is another form of abortion that has been used for centuries by a variety of different cultures, and especially in controlling the number of females born. In the modern western world in our society’s standard secular methodology we now consider such acts as barbaric. The ancient Hebrews, considered infanticide barbaric long long ago while other cultures embraced the practise. And in fact at that time we known many newborns were sacrificed to pagan gods.

The way liberal theology works, it attempts to use the historical context only to undermine the significance and value of the scriptures, completely ignoring this: 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

A prominent argument made by liberal theologians is that unless us so-called Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians are willing to negotiate on theology, we can not expect to continue spreading the Good News as people are increasingly unwilling to listen to our message. So what? The Bible doesn’t tell us to negotiate.

If I negotiate on theology the truthfulness of the gospel is not in me. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Galatians 1:6-10, Jude 1:3-8, 2 Peter 3:15-18, Ephesians 5:6-7. I read recently the liberal view that Matthew 5:29 means you can discard anything in the Bible that “causes you to sin”. Matthew 5:29 says this: If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

When we forget that we are fighting a spiritual battle then we think we can negotiate on things like what “is” and “isn’t” a sin. I’d be worried if the Middle-Class-Australian secular theology was the same as Christian theology. And sadly it often is. Liberal theologians seem to ignore the spiritual battle.

Yes I’m comparing abortion to infanticide. The “majority” view used to be that infanticide is acceptable. I can only prove 40 days is enough to develop the foetus to the point where it has brainwave activity, and that from this point it is undeniably a person. The conservative in me says you can’t know that a foetus isn’t a person after 18 days, or even shortly after conception, and therefore you should err on the side of caution. We know that almost 1 in 2 embryos are discarded shortly after conception, so I wouldn’t argue there’s clinical proof of personhood at that stage; but it doesn’t mean we should be “playing God” at that stage either.

I will endeavour to write further regarding conservative matters, but for now I simply think all Christians should remember that the Bible contains God’s Word first and foremost; and contrary to popular belief you do not need to be a theologian to understand it. After all, even theologians are not God’s prophets.

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