Tell me again why we wanted stem-cell research...

Fox News has posted a story this morning about stem-cell research offering "new hope" to breast augmentation. What??? I thought we lifted the ban on stem-cell research so we could discover cures for alzheimer's, cancer, and other debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Perhaps I missed the need for "natural" breast augmentation.

And proponents wonder why us "religious fanatics" oppose embryonic stem-cell research...
What'd you think? 

Days of the Living Dead: Shocked by the Bible, Chapter 5

I must admit that after reading this chapter a few times, I don’t really understand Joe Kovacs’ point in writing it. He talks of several different resurrections (other than Jesus’), which are recorded in the Bible. The chapter is very short and really just points out that there were resurrections other than Christ’s recorded in both the Old and New Testaments. I don’t think that comes as a “shock” to anyone who is a Christians. Particularly since one of the accounts he brings up is that of Lazarus, which most Christians are aware of because it is included in much of the teaching concerning Passion Week. Without having read beyond this chapter, my guess is that he is using it to introduce another topic. Nevertheless, there were two points Kovacs makes that I think do need to be clarified.

On page 44 he wrote, “During the course of his lifetime, Elisha had been noted for performing numerous miracles, and it appears he was so full of the power of God that even long after his death, the remnants of this prophet were able to bring a fellow Israelite back from the dead.” I have several problems with this statement.

(1) Kovacs does not give any context or understanding as to why the prophet’s bones caused someone to be resurrected. The surrounding verses make the understanding of this account very clear. Those verses before record the final prophecy of Elisha as he lay on his deathbed. He prophesied that king Jehoash would only defeat the Arameans three times in battle. Then verses 20-21 occur, followed by the fulfillment of Elisha’s prophecy to Jehoash. So the resurrection account was recorded as a sign that even though Elisha was dead, the prophecy would still be fulfilled because it was from God.

(2) If this account had not served this purpose, then why didn’t all the people from the surrounding area bring the bodies of those deceased to lay them upon the bones of Elisha so they too would be resurrected? If the Israelites would not have done this, surely the Gentiles would have.

(3) Kovacs seems to intimate that the “power of God” is magical and rests upon inanimate objects. The Bible does not indicate that the “power of God” is bestowed upon something and that it must remain upon until it “wears off.” God bestows his power upon people to reveal his glory to individuals to bring them into a relationship with him. This is seen time and time again. God grants his Spirit or his “power” at different times to accomplish his purposes (Psalm 68, Romans 1:16 & 202 Timothy 1:7-8).

Everywhere in the Bible where God’s power is mentioned, it is not in reference to him bestowing it upon inanimate objects; it is always in reference to individuals or the actions of those individuals. For example, God did not place His power upon the rock in the desert to bring forth the water; he placed it upon Moses and his actions (when he struck the rock) to bring forth the water (Exodus 17:5). There was nothing mentioned about the rock being magical or filled with the power of God. Neither was there anything mentioned about the power of God being upon the “staff” that Moses used when striking the rock. This is certainly clear because later God instructed Moses to speak to another rock and instead he struck the rock with the staff. This brought God’s judgment upon Moses. I assume (because the Bible does not state this explicitly) that Moses had begun to think that there was something “magical” about his staff, that it contained the “power of God” to perform miraculous things.

Think about it—it was a sign that God had sent him (staff to snake and back to staff; Exodus 4), he used it to turn the Nile to blood (and to begin some of the other plagues in Egypt as well; Exodus 7-10), he used it to part the Red Sea (Exodus 14), he held it up while they defeated the Amalekites (Exodus 17), he had used it the first time to bring forth water from a rock (Exodus 17), as well as other miraculous things—with all of that in mind, is it really surprising that Moses would have began to think of the staff itself as powerful rather than God using him? This is exactly the point God made when he struck the rock rather than speaking to it—“‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he showed himself holy among them” (Numbers 20:12-13, emphasis added). Notice it did not say God showed Moses holy or that God showed the staff holy, but he showed himself to be holy. Moses had begun to revere the staff as powerful (i.e. he called it the “staff of God,” Exodus 4:20, 17:19), rather than revering the God who gave the power to Moses who held the staff. Notice the staff itself never “performed” any miraculous deed, it was always in the hand of Moses through whom God had chosen to work.

The other statement Kovacs makes that bothered me was on page 48—“This resurrection [Tabitha, Acts 9:40-41], along with all the others, raises important questions. Were these dead people alive in heaven right after they died? After all, many churches teach that when God’s people die, they immediately go to heaven. Surprisingly, there is no verse in the Bible that specifically indicates that, though many people share that belief.” This simply is not the case.

Second Corinthians 5:6-10, makes it clear that when we are present in the body (i.e. alive) we are away from the Lord. It also makes clear that when we are absent from the body (i.e. dead) we are present with the Lord.

In Luke 23:43 Jesus is speaking to the thief that defends Jesus as innocent and says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The thief died just a few hours later, so where could paradise be? It is obviously not here on earth because he died. It certainly can’t be hell, since it is described as a place of torment. No, paradise is described as being in the presence of God, which is heaven (2 Corinthians 12:14, Revelation 2:7).

So Mr. Kovacs cannot be correct in saying “there is no verse in the Bible” that teaches people will be in heaven right after they die, since I have just provided two passages. I feel that I must also add that not everyone will be in heaven when they die. Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will find themselves in heaven. Those who have rejected him as their Lord and Savior will find themselves in hell. That we will die and find ourselves in eternity is not a question to me; what is in question to me is whether we will find ourselves in heaven in the presence of God or in hell banished from the presence of God.
What'd you think? 

Shocked by the Bible, Chapter 4: "God the Father" is not in the Old Testament

Kovacs set out in chapter 4 of Shocked by the Bible to show that God the Father was not the God of the Old Testament, but that is was in fact Jesus Christ. He wrote on page 30, “The first chapter of John is the key to understanding the entire Bible. And what it points to is that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. Write that down somewhere and memorize it.” On that same page he also wrote, “He, along with God the Father, was in existence forever, not as a human being, but as a member of the Family of God….If you search the Bible, the phrases “God the Father” and “God our Father” do not appear anywhere in the Old Testament!” The short response to these two points is that he is absolutely correct. However, there is some clarification needed.

(1) I would disagree with Kovacs that John 1:1 is the key to understanding the entire Bible. I think that is a little too strong of a claim. The Scriptures do not anywhere place such weight upon any single verse or portion as being the “key.” (2) Yes, Jesus Christ is the God of the OT, but not simply because he is a member of the Family of God—more importantly, it is because he is a member of the Trinity. Everyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior is a member of the Family of God (1 John 3:1, 1 Peter 4:17), but that does not make us a member of the Trinity, the holy Godhead. (3) Finally, Kovacs is spot on that the exact phrases “God the Father” and “God our Father” cannot be found anywhere in the OT. However, the concept of God being the father of the Israelites is clearly demonstrated in several passages and throughout the prophets as God calls the Israelite to return to him and be “his children.” If they are children of God, should that not require God to be their father?

There are many passages in the prophetic books where God refers to the Israelites as his “children.” Isaiah 1:2, 4; 30:1, 9; Jeremiah 3:4, 14, 19, 22; 4:22; Ezekiel 16:21; and the list could go on. In fact, in Jeremiah 3:4 God chastised the Israelites for calling him “Father” without obeying what he commanded them—“Have you not just called to me:
‘My Father, my friend from my youth (NIV).” And in Jeremiah 3:14 God called the Israelites “backsliding children (KJV).” The prophets clearly understood that there was God the Father. Malachi 2:10 contains a clear expression of God the Father in different terms. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? (KJV).” The rhetorical answers to these questions is that they only have one God who is there father and it is the God who created them.

Kovacs emphasizes the point (particularly on pages 32, 38) that “no one has seen God the Father at any time. Jesus Himself said so: ‘Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape’ (John 5:37).” He then makes the statement on page 36, “Part of Jesus’ mission when he lived as a human was to declare, or reveal for the first time, God the Father.” The problem with this statement is that Jesus didn’t all of a sudden reveal God the Father, this was clearly evident to the Jews before Jesus’ appearance (as just seen from the OT references). The New Testament even shows that the Jews knew “God the Father;” in fact, many of Jesus’ debates with the Pharisees and Sadducees were because Jesus was claiming to be equal with God the Father. The Pharisees and Sadducees also made the strong and declarative statement, “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself. (John 8:41, NIV).” Now it doesn’t make sense if God the Father was never revealed before Jesus, that his strongest critiques would claim that the only “father” they have is “God.”

Jesus did not reveal for the first time whom God the Father was, he brought the picture into focus. The Jews had an understanding of who God the Father was, but it was not clear until Jesus came followed by the Holy Spirit that the entire picture of God was complete. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament because is a member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is also the God of the Old Testament for the same reason. All three members of the Godhead (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), were the God of the Old Testament.

I could write so much more about this chapter of Kovacs’ book like how he refers to “baby Jesus” several times in the first few pages of this chapter or how he incorrectly and categorically claims God the Father had no involvement in any actions in the Old Testament (creation, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.) but that it was Jesus who did all of these things when the Bible clearly states that most of the events he lists are performed by “the angel of the LORD.” I know that issue may be semantics, but since Kovacs is taking up the issue of semantics (i.e. God the Father not found in the OT) it irks me when he changes what the Bible literally says. I am aware that the angel of the LORD was probably the pre-incarnate Jesus, but the Bible says “the angel of the LORD” and not “Jesus.” So if Kovacs is going to argue from semantics, he shouldn’t be making that same mistake all throughout his chapter. Sorry about the rant, but had to get that off my chest. :)
What'd you think? 

Subscribing 101

Tired of coming back to the site and not finding anything new posted? Me too—not really since I am the guy who puts up all those posts you keep looking for. Want an easier way to know when a new post has been made? Well look no further than the subscription options for Mr. Hyde’s Blog.
Whenever you subscribe to Mr. Hyde’s Blog, every new post is delivered straight to you. How much does that cost you might ask? Absolutely nothing. Okay, hold on for one more minute before you go click happy on the subscription options.

There are currently three ways to subscribe to Mr. Hyde’s Blog—RSS feed readers, Email, and Facebook.

What on earth is a RSS feed reader?
A feed reader is simply a program that will go out for you and collect all of your subscriptions (like to Mr. Hyde’s Blog) and bring them back to one place (aggregate). There are a lot of feed readers available out there. Probably the most widely used is Google Reader. If you use iGoogle, you can place Google Reader as a widget on your home screen. You can even set Mr. Hyde’s Blog as its own widget on your iGoogle page! Some of the other popular feed readers are FeedReader3, FeedDemon, Bloglines, and NewsGator. If all of this is making your head spin, watch the video below.

What’s the next step?
Just like the video said, you need to sign up for a feed reader. I suggest Google Reader (that is what I use). Then come back here and click on the RSS icon on the home page. Once you subscribe, all of my posts will automatically show up in your reader.

What about email?
Maybe you just want to receive Mr. Hyde’s Blog and not a whole bunch of other feeds (Hooray for me!). Well you can do that too through email subscription. When you click on the email subscription icon, you will be taken to another page where you will then enter your email address and a captcha code (prevents spam requests). After submitting your email address, you will then receive a confirmation email to make sure that you entered your address correctly and not someone else’s by mistake. Click on the confirmation link in the email and voila, you will receive the new posts from Mr. Hyde’s Blog in your email inbox.

Oh, and I will never sell, rent, or otherwise distribute your email. You can unsubscribe at anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe now” link at the bottom of the email.

You’re on Facebook?
Yes, my blog is on Facebook. However, when you subscribe to my blog on Facebook, it will not automatically send the new posts to you. You will still have to manually visit Mr. Hyde’s Blog. I hope that they soon correct this and allow blogs you follow to show up in your notifications or something similar. So if you don’t subscribe on Facebook, I understand.
What'd you think? 

Embryonic Stem-Cell Research: Is there a biblical position (continued)?

This is my third post on embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR). You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not already. In this post, I will answer the rest of the questions I brought up in my original post, which I did not answer in my last post

(3) What is the best solution to the vast number of unused frozen embryos?

There are an estimated 500,000 embryos stored in cryobanks, which are no longer needed for many different reasons. The three possible solutions that have been offered to resolve this problem are to destroy (abort) the embryos, donate them to other couples wanting to have children, or donate them to “science.” There are pros and cons to each of these possible solutions.

The parents of these embryos often cannot simply “destroy” the embryos. They frequently make a statement along the lines that they see their current children and cannot help but to think of what those embryos could become. However, these same parents at times do not feel comfortable with giving these embryos up for adoption. They fear the unforeseen consequences of them someday meeting an unknown relative or that they may be brought up in a bad home. Furthermore, the process for adopting an embryo is more difficult than adopting a child and often costs thousands of dollars. The third option is even cloudier because no one has really defined what “donating to science” entails.

Everyday there seems to be another story in the news about President Obama and ESCR. It would appear that the government is pushing to use these “existing” embryos in cryobanks for current ESCR. The problem here, though, is that there doesn’t seem to be a coherent policy about ESCR and what is or is not allowed. A recent post on Stand to Reason shows just how confusing the White House’s policies are concerning this issue. This brings me to the fourth question I raised…

(4) Is it ethical to use “embryos” for scientific purposes (whether from extra embryos or those purposely created for such purposes)?

This question is really about the status of embryos, regardless of whether they are extra embryos or embryos created for scientific research. If these embryos are human, then it is certainly unethical to allow unfounded scientific research to be conducted on them. Particularly, since we do not allow unfounded scientific research on adult humans. Even when we allow scientific research to be conducted on adult humans there are safeguards, regulations, permission must be obtained from the participant, etc. Furthering this problem of scientific research on embryos is the whole option of adopting embryos. If embryos are not human nor persons, then why have an adoption process? It makes no sense to have one position (adoption) that treats these embryos as persons and, at the same time, have another stance (science) that denies that these embryos are persons but are only cells. This debate over the status leads to the fifth and final question I raised…

(5) Are we killing a human when we destroy an embryo?

I think we are killing a human when we destroy an embryo. Partly because of my position that I believe we receive our souls at conception, but more so because I do not believe that a human’s position in reference to the birth canal determines our humanity. We are human whether born or unborn. I also think the Scriptures are clear that we are important and valuable in God’s eyes from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13, Jeremiah 1:5).
What'd you think? 

Embryonic Stem-Cell Research: Is there a biblical position?

My last post brought up the issue of embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) and some questions to which Christians must find an answer. As a Pastor, I always ask myself, “What does the Bible say?” There are some, though, that would say the Bible does not address issues like these, that the authors of the Bible could not have possibly envisioned issues such as ESCR. I will agree that one cannot find a treatise on ESCR in the letters of Paul, Peter, or any other biblical author. However, I think that there are principles contained in Scripture that are timeless in their application to our lives.

Following I will restate the questions I listed in my previous post and include my thoughts as to how we might answer them biblically:

(1) Are frozen embryos dead or alive? This question is of some importance. If the frozen embryo is in fact dead and not alive, we cannot argue that we are mistreating a living thing. Our argument would have to change to something along the lines that we are not treating the dead with respect (if you think the dead should be treated with respect). However, I think too many people answer this question too quickly in the affirmative, that a frozen embryo is alive, because there is a problem with this position. Would we consider a human adult who is frozen as being alive?

The scientific and medical answer is that when any living thing is cryogenically frozen, as the embryos are, that it is not alive while frozen. This is because there is no cellular growth or reproduction. It is as though the “clock” for that embryo has been paused. The problem the medical community is having is that cells often rupture from ice crystals that form from the freezing process. Therefore, the cells die before they are even “thawed out.” The second problem is that they have not exactly figured out how to properly thaw and revive an organism. So the short answer is that embryos are considered to be dead while frozen (often referred to as cryonic suspension). There is a short, but rather detailed article about cryogenics here.

(2) Are we “torturing a person” when we freeze an embryo? You will remember that this question arose because I hold the position that we receive our souls at conception. So the question was really wondering if the soul remained with the embryo while frozen. However, my intuition (as well as science) is that an embryo is not alive but is dead. I believe the Bible clearly teaches that when we die, our souls depart from our bodies. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8-9, NIV).”

There is also an understanding that the body and soul do not die together or are inseparable. Jesus stated, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28, NIV).” From this statement, it is clear that we as humans can kill one another’s bodies, but not each other’s souls. There is also an understanding in Scripture that the soul can depart from the body and then later return to the body (Jesus’ died, was buried, and was resurrected; Lazarus resurrected [John 11:43-44]; Jairus’ daughter resurrected [Luke 8:53-56]; etc.). Particularly note of Luke 8:55 which states, “Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.” So it becomes completely evident to me that we are not “torturing” these souls contained in a frozen embryo because I believe they die when frozen and so the soul departs. If you, however, believe that we receive our souls at birth or some point later in embryonic development, then this question is probably a moot point for you.

These are just some of my thoughts about how to biblically answer these questions. I am do not claim that I have got these things figured out. I would love to hear some different thoughts or perspectives on how to answer these questions. What I do think is important, though, is that we are working through these things as Christians and not ignoring “the problem” and hoping it will be resolved without us having to be involved. I will be making some follow-up posts because I didn’t address all the questions that I listed in my initial post.
What'd you think? 

Embryonic Stem-Cell Research: Where will this road lead us?

President Obama’s recent repeal of Bush’s ban on embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) has brought out a major discussion point about a problem that is gaining momentum in the public eye. That problem is what do we do with cryogenically frozen embryos? There are more articles everyday that are addressing the issue that there is currently hundreds of thousands (the latest estimate I have seen is 500,000) of frozen embryos sitting in cryobanks. The three options for people who have frozen embryos is to have them destroyed, allow another couple to “adopt” their embryo(s), or to donate them to “science” (i.e., ESCR). These issues are not as cut and dry as we would like them to be. People are struggling to answer the question of what to do with their unused frozen embryos as well as what do we do with those of people who have died or fallen off the grid.

A few months ago I was asked about cryogenically frozen embryos by a deacon in my church (who is also an OB/GYN). He specifically asked the question, “Do you think we are torturing embryos when we freeze them?” Now I must preface this with the understanding that this question was asked following the question about what I thought happens to babies who are still born, die at birth, or are aborted—did I think they were granted salvation or were they sent to hell (which is a completely different matter I am not going to address in this post)? Part of my answer included my belief that we receive our souls at conception. This is why the follow up about torturing embryos—because I believe they have a soul.

I think as Christians we cannot hastily jump to a conclusion about this issue. The nation as a whole is struggling with this topic and if we act like we have got it nailed, they will view our answer with skepticism. But here are some of my thoughts and some questions to which we must look for some answers: (1) Are frozen embryos dead or alive? (2) Are we “torturing a person” when we freeze an embryo? (3) What is the best solution to the vast number of unused frozen embryos? (4) Is it ethical to use “embryos” for scientific purposes (whether from extra embryos or those purposely created for such purposes)? (5) Are we killing a human when we destroy an embryo? There are numerous other questions about this issue, but these are a few that are fast arising to the forefront. I will share my thoughts in a post later this week about how I have answered some of these questions.
What'd you think? 

What is Easter anyway?

With “Easter” Sunday fast approaching and reading Joe Kovacs’ chapter on this subject in Shocked by the Bible, I thought it only appropriate to address the question a lot of Christians are not asking today. Should we be celebrating Easter by hunting eggs and so forth?

The conclusion I have reached is that Christians should not be partaking in these practices—even though most consider them completely harmless. I listed several Scriptures from the Old Testament in my previous post (Judges 10:6, 1 Samuel 7:3, 1 Kings 11:5). These passages made it clear that God disapproved of the Israelites’ participation in the worship of the Pagan goddess Ashtoreth. Nearly all Easter celebrations are originated from the worship of this goddess.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:16, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.” This rhetorical question was given to make it abundantly clear that Christians—who are the temple of the living God—have no business being tied to idol worship.

Furthermore, Elijah also made it clear that we are to have nothing to do with idol worship when he challenged the prophets of Baal. He said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing (1 Kings 18:21).” The Israelites were mixing the worship of God with the worship of Baal. They had not completely turned from God, but they had included Baal in their worship practices—and so Elijah was urging them to stop riding the fence and choose to follow God.

Paul implored the Corinthians to “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14-22). He explained that we cannot “partake” of both the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (idols). Peter also addressed this issue in 1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” We are called to holy, which means “set apart.” We are not to be partakers of evil, particularly when we are made aware of sin.

In fact, we are not only called to abstain from partaking in evil, but we are called to expose it. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11).” What is sad about this whole topic of Easter is that the unbelieving world has figured out that the “typical” Easter celebrations are not Christian what so ever. These unbelievers find it humorous and hypocritical that we Christians say we would never participate in anything “godless,” and then we turn around and incorporate many godless practices in the celebration of one of the most important holidays on our religious calendar. For this reason, I feel that it is necessary to share this information with Christians everywhere, because I do not want us to become the Israelites who “profaned [His] holy name (Ezekiel 36:20).” We may have participated in these practices, but now that we are aware of the truth we are called to abstain and expose these practices for what they are—idol worship.

What'd you think? 

Shocked by the Bible, Chapter 3: Easter Vanished!

Joe Kovacs is spot on in this chapter. I don’t disagree with him on any major point he makes, so I will simply give a synopsis of what I thought his major points were in this chapter.

Point 1—The word “Easter” only appears in one location in the King James Version (Acts 12:4). It does not appear in any of the more recent translations (NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, etc.) Therefore, Kovacs correctly notes that the original word is properly translated as “Passover” in English, not Easter.

Point 2—Much of what we do around Easter does not stem from Biblical tradition at all. This includes bunnies, Easter eggs, and many of the other now “traditional” Easter festivities. Rather, these practices stem from the worship practices of the ancient fertility goddess Isthar—also known as Astarte, Ashtaroth, Ashroreth, Ostara, Eostre, and Eastre.

Kovacs also noted that God condemned these practices in the Old Testament. Time and time again God would warn the Israelites not to engage in these practices and worship the “Ashtoreth(s).” These warnings can be found in many places (Judges 10:6, 1 Samuel 7:3, 1 Kings 11:5, etc.).

Overall Point—The common Easter festivities of today have absolutely nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What'd you think? 

Shocked by the Bible, Chapter 2a

I continue today untangling Kovacs’ tangled up explanation of what day Jesus was truly crucified. As I stated in my previous post, I agree with Kovacs that Jesus could not have been crucified on Friday--according to the Scriptures. However, I do not agree with Kovacs that it occurred on Wednesday. I believe that the Scriptures clearly indicate Jesus died on Thursday and the two Sabbaths that week were on Friday and Saturday.

Kovacs makes two errors, which lead him to the position that Jesus died on Wednesday and rose at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. First, he assumed that Matthew 12:40 required a complete 72 hours to be correctly fulfilled (see previous post on this problem). Second, he incorrectly interprets Luke 23:54-24:2 with Mark 16:1-2.

Kovacs interprets Luke to say that the women bought the spices before the Sabbath began, and Mark to indicate that they bought them after the Sabbath. What Kovacs does not quote in Mark is 15:46 which says, “So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Joseph bought supplies to take care of Jesus that day, nothing would immediately preclude the women from doing the same. Furthermore, why is it not possible that the women bought what they could on the day before the special Sabbath and then purchased the rest following the regular Sabbath?

Kovacs even misses something in the very quote he uses from Luke 24:1—“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” Certain others with them? What does that mean? It is referring to that which they brought with them—the spices. So they had not only the spices they prepared, but certain other spices with them as well.

Now to the issue of whether or not Jesus was to be resurrected any part of the third day or at the completion of the third full day. Kovacs rightly notes, “The phrase ‘the third day’ can be taken two ways. It can mean he was to rise at any time on the third calendar day. For some, this suggests a Friday death and Sunday resurrection. But the phrase can also indicate the third completed day, or a full seventy-two hours. Again, the Bible is unclear.” Then Kovacs moves on under the assumption that it requires a full 72 hours without explaining his assumption. It appears from the Scriptures, however, that many understood it to be any part of the third day.

First, those hostile to Jesus (the Pharisees and the chief priests) seemed to indicate it could be any part of the third day in their request to Pilate to seal the tomb. The Pharisees come to Pilate the day after Jesus’ death and burial and then seal the tomb and station soldiers to ensure that the body would not be stolen from that point forward to any point “until” the conclusion of the third day.

Kovacs also cited Jesus’ conversation with the two disciples as further evidence to support his claim. However, in his own statement he shows a serious flaw to both his argument and those who believe Jesus was crucified on Friday: “Those who steadfastly believe Jesus was executed on a Friday often point to a comment from one of Jesus’ disciples on the same Sunday the women discovered the empty tomb. Jesus appeared to a pair of disciples who were discussing the amazing events that had taken place that week, but God did not allow them to recognize Jesus. The disciple name Cleopas noted, ‘Today is the third day since these things were done (Luke 24:221).’ Proponents of the ‘Friday theory’ say that if the Messiah did die on a Wednesday, and they were speaking about it on Sunday, then Cleopas should have said, ‘Today is the fourth day since these things were done.’ Ironically, had Jesus died on a Friday, Sunday would only be the second day ‘since these things were done.’”

Kovacs attempts to salvage his theory by explaining “these things” as referring to the Pharisees’ actions on Thursday requesting the sealing of the tomb. But in the midst of explaining this point, he wrote, “The events covered by “all these things” did not end the moment Jesus died, since the chief priests and the rulers acted again the following day, on Thursday." I sense a little sleight of hand by Mr. Kovacs. While he is correct that “all these things” did not end with Jesus burial, it also does not mean that it began with the Pharisees request. Simply put, “all these things” refers to exactly what they were discussing as indicated by the full context in Luke 24:18-21, “One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days…“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him…And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” They were referring to the crucifixion and death of Jesus; they don’t even mention the actions of the Pharisees. Kovacs seems to completely ignore the context of their conversation. Cleopas made it clear what he was referring to when he said “all these things.”

This is a topic that can get very technical when addressing the different ways of reckoning days and the mention of Preparation Days and special Sabbaths and regular Sabbaths. I could post a series to explain this in detail (don’t worry I’m not). But the short of it is that the Scriptures clearly indicate that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, Friday was a special Sabbath, Saturday was the regular Sabbath, and he rose from the dead on Sunday at some point before daybreak.
What'd you think? 

Debating Abortion?

There is a lot of buzz going on about abortion these days. This is mainly the result of Obama’s actions in recent times repealing some of Bush’s restrictions on abortions. Still more executive orders are expected to come in the following months regarding abortion.

With the debate freshly stirred up and all abuzz everywhere these days, many Christians are struggling with how to address this issue with people who support abortion. I recently read a book that will greatly assist someone looking to sharpen their skills about abortion while learning how to better interact with those of the opposing viewpoint.

The name of the book is “Common Ground Without Compromise: 25 Questions to Create Dialogue on Abortion” and it is written by Stephen Wagner. It can be purchased at or at Stand to Reason . It is a little over 100 pages and very easy to read. I recommend this book to anyone looking to get involved in the abortion debate.
What'd you think? 

Shocked by the Bible, Chapter 2a

This is a very technical chapter in Kovacs’ book and he plows through a lot of detail in a very short amount of time. For that reason, I am going to break this chapter into two posts this week.

In chapter 2, Joe Kovacs tackles the issue about what day Jesus really died. He begins by showing that the traditional understanding that he died on Friday does not match the biblical accounts. Following this, he begins to outline how we can determine on what day he was truly crucified.

He explained, “The day after Passover is a “high day” Sabbath. It’s the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when believers enjoy a special day of rest and eat unleavened bread. To recap, Jesus was slain the day before a Sabbath, which was an annual Sabbath, and there is no mention of “Friday.” But are there any other clues in the pages of Scripture to help identify the correct timeline?”

Kovacs is completely correct that Jesus was crucified on the day before the special Sabbath, not the regular Sabbath. Which means at the earliest, Jesus was crucified on Thursday (leaving Friday for the special Sabbath and Saturday for the regular Sabbath)? However, Kovacs does not seem to explain how Hebrews counted days. They did not reckon time as we do today—that is from midnight to midnight. They reckoned from evening to evening. So for example, 6pm on what we would call Friday evening would mark the beginning of Saturday (the Sabbath) to Jews.
The other problem is that Kovacs speaks to Jesus completing a full 72 hours is his understanding of Jonah 1:17. He assumes, without any facts to back up this assumption, that Jonah was in the belly of the whale a complete 72 hours. Because Jesus said that he would be in the heart of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the whale—three day and three nights—Kovacs assumes that this means Jesus had to be in the earth 72 hours. There is nothing in the text to demand that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for exactly 72 hours. Never mind that Jonah would have had no way to know how long he was in the fish as they did not have wrist watches or cell phones at that time.
What'd you think? 

Shocked By The Bible, Chapter 1

Joe Kovacs recently wrote Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told. His goal in writing the book is, “To educate about what the Bible says in its own words. There is stunning information included between Genesis and Revelation, but much of it has been morphed into misinformation and confusion. Too many people today continue to ask, ‘You mean that’s in the Bible?’ or ‘That’s not in the Bible?’”

While his stated purpose is to educate, the implication seems to be that he is correcting the “misinformation and confusion” there is concerning the Bible and what is does or does not say. As I have already begun to read the book, I must say that he is correct about much of what he says. In fact, he is correct that “too many people continue to ask…” The real problem is not that people in general ask those questions, but that it is Christians asking those questions.

You might be wondering, what difference does it make if Christians ask this question? All the difference in the world. Christians, almost by definition, believe the Bible to be the Word of God and indispensable in their lives. This is one book they are supposed to know. I am not saying a Christian is supposed to have the Bible memorized backwards and forwards, but they should be familiar enough with it that the question (That’s in the Bible? or That’s not in the Bible?) never comes to mind because they are shocked by some new fact presented to them.

Joe Kovacs addresses quite a large cross section of topics in his book—twenty seven topics each covered in a different chapter. The first chapter is entitled, “The real Christmas story.” The vast majority of what he addresses in this chapter is spot on. The Bible does not specify that Jesus was born on December 25, or that there were exactly three Wiseman, or that the Wiseman arrived shortly after Jesus was born. All of these things “shock” most Christians when they discover this.

However, Kovacs makes one point that is not solidly founded upon what the Bible “says in its own words.” On pages 10-11 he addresses an ancient custom that involved trees and “is hauntingly similar to modern Christmas trees.” He then goes on to reference Jeremiah 10:2-5, (Kovacs quotes the King James Version, I have used the New International Version because it uses modern English rather than Old English) “Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”

He compares this custom of “decorating with silver and gold” to decorating a Christmas tree with tinsel and ornaments. The problem though is the Bible does not describe a custom similar to modern Christmas tree traditions at all. Jeremiah was addressing idol worship. The Israelites and the nations around them would make “gods” for themselves out of a tree they cut down in the forest. Very few cultures made an idol and did not cover it in silver and gold.

Several other places in the Bible make it clear that idol worship was ridiculous. Isaiah 41:7, 44:12ff., and 46:5-7 all speak to idol making. The Bible actually is sarcastic when condemning idol worship. It addresses the fact that a person cuts a tree down and makes it into an idol and worships “wood,” while using part of the same tree for a fire.

Kovacs also quotes Judges 3:7, 1 Kings 14:15, and 1 Kings 14:23 as further evidence of the tree tradition as a pagan practice condemned by God. The King James Version (KJV) says that the Israelites worshiped a false god known as Baalim (KJV) or Baal (NIV) and “the groves.” While the KJV is a wonderful translation, the better translation of “the groves” is Asherah (which is how every modern version translates it). The sign of the goddess Asherah was a pole, which was obviously made from a tree.

God was not condemning some “Christmas tree-like” tradition, he was condemning idol worship. At this point I must make it clear that I am neither condoning nor condemning Christmas trees, but I am simply addressing the misinformation Joe Kovacs has put forth in his book. Although I am not shocked by much of what he addressed concerning the “real Christmas story,” I am sure that there are large numbers of Christians that have been “Shocked by the Bible.”

What'd you think? 

Hello World!

Hello World, just starting this blog and looking forward to speaking my mind and hearing yours. I have not had any desire to start a MySpace or Facebook because that is not my cup of tea. I have wanted a way to voice my opinions in a venue to receive meaningful feedback, and so here I sit writing this first blog post.

One other reason I wanted to start this blog is that I read a lot, and have a lot of thoughts about the books I read (good and bad). With that said, the first book I will be reviewing in-depth is Joe Kovacs' new book, Shocked By The Bible. I will be posting comments chapter-by-chapter as he breaks his many different topics into neat packages (of which I am thankful).

Look forward to getting started and hearing what you think!

Jesus Reigns,
Mr. Hyde
What'd you think?