Genealogies of Christ

Genealogies of Christ
Skeptics have criticized the biblical accounts of the ancestry of Jesus. The problem is that Matthew 1:1-17 gives 42 ancestors of Jesus and Luke 3:23-37 has over 50. In addition to that, there are some differences in individuals in the genealogies. How can there be those differences in the genealogies of Christ?

The answer to that question is that Matthew gives the line of Joseph, the legal line. Luke gives the line of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Matthew is a Jewish writer and Jews regarded only the male line of descent. Joseph had to be a descendant of David, or the Jews would not have recognized the genealogy as a fulfillment of the prophecies that Christ would be the Son of David.

Luke was a Gentile writing for Gentiles. He was more particular to give the line that shows that Jesus is indeed the Son of David. So why does Matthew 1:16 say that Jacob was the father of Joseph while Luke 3:23 says that Joseph was the son of Heli? If Mary was the daughter of Heli, especially if an heiress, Joseph, by marriage, would become the “son of Heli.” That there is no contradiction between the two genealogies of Jesus is shown by the fact that the Jews who best understood their genealogies never changed it.

We have said that to take the Bible literally means to look at who wrote it, to whom it was written, why it was written, and how the people it was written to would have understood it. The genealogies of Christ are a classic example of why we must do that.
–John N. Clayton

In God We Trust

In God We Trust
We don’t normally repeat a post, but since today is an important election day in the United States, we are making an exception. In case you missed this post earlier, it’s a reminder of the importance of Christian faith in the founding and history of the USA. The very character of our country is the result of people of faith who lived by their faith, and the freedom we enjoy grows from loving God and our neighbors. That character and freedom depend our continuing to live out our national motto – In God We Trust.
–Roland Earnst

Most people are not aware that the Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, has four verses. One has to wonder what would happen at a sporting event if someone sang all four verses, especially verse four which goes like this:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

From the post of November 1, 2018, by John Clayton

Clayton Museum Adds Children’s Section

Clayton Museum- Onager
Foster Stanback is a collector of artifacts of historical significance. In 2015 he established a museum in York Nebraska to house many of those artifacts. Because of our long association with Foster, he honored our work together by naming it the Clayton Museum of Ancient History.

The Clayton Museum houses an amazing collection of items from the time of Christ and earlier. The museum focuses on ancient Mesopotamia and the Roman Empire. The oldest artifacts are an Egyptian mace head and an ax head, both approximately 5000 years old. You can see a 3500-year-old Egyptian toolkit comparable to what was used at the time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.

The Roman collection from the first to third centuries is especially impressive since it includes everything from personal grooming items to weapons of war. You can see an authentic Roman gladius (sword), a Roman soldier’s helmet, and pieces of armor. A reconstructed Roman onager (a type of catapult) stands near the center of the museum. The displays help us to understand the conditions and way of life that existed in Biblical times and during the time of Christ.

The Clayton Museum of Ancient History has had over 10,000 visitors, including many school groups. They have added a section devoted to children, with interactive displays and a variety of kid-friendly exhibits. The museum is ideally suited for families as there is something for everyone. It is located on the York College campus in York, Nebraska, in the lower level of the Mackey Center. Parking and admission are free. For hours and a map click HERE. You can call for information or to schedule a tour (402)363-5748.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Colorado Civil Rights Commission Is Targeting Jack Phillips – Again!

Colorado Civil Rights Commission Is Targeting Jack Phillips – Again!
The state of Colorado refuses to stop harassing Jack Phillips for his Christian faith. A few months ago we reported on how the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is targeting Jack Phillips. Mr. Phillips owns a business called Masterpiece Cakeshop. Jack is an artist, and he expresses his art in finely-crafted cakes for special occasions. Jack and his wife are also deeply committed Christians, and the “Master” in the cakeshop’s name reflects his master, Jesus Christ. He wants every piece of art he designs to reflect his faith as he serves others.

Six years ago a same-sex couple asked him to create a cake for their wedding. He respectfully declined because doing so would violate his deeply-held religious conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman. He would create a cake for those customers for another occasion, but not for their wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission punished him severely and accused him of acting like the Nazi’s or the segregationists of the past. You can read our report on that HERE.

After years of litigation, in June 2018 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips by a vote of 7 to 2. (We reported on that HERE.) Phillips was freed from years of legal troubles. But not for long. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is targeting Jack Phillips again.

On the day the Supreme Court took up his case in June of 2017, an attorney called the Masterpiece Cakeshop. He requested Jack to create a cake for him that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate his gender transition from male to female. Jack’s Christian faith told him that he could not do that, and he politely declined. The lawyer filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission did not act on that complaint until after they had lost the first case before the Supreme Court.

After losing the first legal battle, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is targeting Jack Phillips again. Obviously, the lawyer who requested the blue and pink cake was setting him up. (The lawyer later called requesting a cake celebrating Satan.) It is just as apparent that the state of Colorado is out to destroy Jack’s business and attack his faith. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit against the state officials and filed a preliminary injunction with a federal court to stop the harassment by the state.

You can read more about this on the ADF website HERE and HERE.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

What Can We Trust?

What Can We Trust?
The October 2018 issue of Scientific American (page 39) contains an article by Brooke Borel titled “Clicks, Lies and Video Tape.” The article begins by stating, “Artificial Intelligence is making it possible for anyone to manipulate audio and video. The biggest threat is that we stop trusting anything at all.” Then what can we trust?

The article tells us that in April 2018 a new video of Barack Obama appeared on the internet in which he spoke looking exactly as he did when he was president of the United States. The image we could all see was Obama facing the camera, and with outstretched hands, he said, “President Trump is a total and complete XXXXX.”

In reality, it wasn’t Obama at all, but an actor named Jordan Peele who used BuzzFeed News to produce a fake video. The technology is now available to make realistic-looking fake videos. They can contain what appears to be known political characters spreading disinformation. In fact, this is already being done.

The first example of fakery was the serpent in Genesis 3, and Satan has continued to use this tool throughout time. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 Paul writes, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” The truth is that we cannot trust anything in the physical world. The evening news is full of falsehoods and agents of Satan.

As Christians, we would encourage others to understand that while humans can be bribed, bullied, and deceived. What can we trust? The word of Jesus Christ is true and testable. It can be trusted 100%. What a joy it is to know that we have a rock that is God’s word. If we trust God, all of the deceit and lying of men and of Satan himself cannot mislead us.

“All scripture is given by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness that the man or woman of God may be complete, totally furnished to guide us into all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Harvesting Organs from Prisoners

Harvesting Organs from Prisoners
One of the evidences for the validity of Christianity is the “fruit test.” Jesus said, “By their fruits, you shall know them,” and in Matthew 7:16-20 Jesus talks about the logic of the fruit test. Jesus dealt with the poor, the down-trodden, and those society might deem as “unfit.” One fundamental belief of Christianity is that the individual is of value, no matter what their circumstance. That includes prisoners. The atheist Chinese government’s harvesting organs from prisoners is brutal beyond belief.

Communist China has always been an opponent of Christian values and teaching. It has now been revealed that the organs of prisoners, especially members of the Falun Gong religious movement have been forcibly removed for transplanting into visitors who come to China for organ transplants.

If you view humans as just animals no different from any other, and you consider some have humans to be unproductive in society, why not use them as you would pigs to get organs that can enable the “fit” to live longer? But you don’t have to look to China for this kind of attitude. There are writers and scholars in America who are suggesting the same practice. We have referenced Peter Singer ethics professor at Princeton University as an example of such an advocate. (See our Nov/Dec 2010 issue, Vol. 37 #6 page 26).

First Corinthians 3:16 and 6:15-20 portray the individual as the dwelling place of the Spirit. Christian values are critical in medical ethics. China is an excellent example of what happens when these values are not used, and atheist values are applied. The result is such detestable practices as harvesting organs from prisoners for financial gain.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from The Week, October 5, 2018, page 15.

Higher Criticism and the Bible

Higher Criticism and the Bible
We often deal with people who criticize the Bible for one reason or another. However, some scholars study the Bible and apply what is called biblical criticism. They may be practicing lower criticism (also known as textual criticism) in which they work to determine the correct text of ancient documents. These scholars work with copies of ancient manuscripts of both biblical and non-biblical material to attempt to determine what the original documents said. There is also a method called higher criticism in which scholars deal with the authorship, dating, and unity of manuscripts.

There have been numerous instances over the years in which criticism of these two types has exposed frauds. In the fifteenth century, for example, higher criticism proved that a document called “Donation of Constantine” was not genuine. The events described in the manuscript turned out to be events that happened hundreds of years after the original document was supposed to have been written. Obviously, “donation” was a fraud. In this way, higher criticism can expose frauds and identify claims about manuscripts that could not be true.

At the beginning of the twentieth-century furious debates raged over higher criticism because many viewed it as a threat to the Bible and Christian faith. In our day it has become fashionable to use higher criticism to claim that the Bible is not the inspired Word of God. I confront skeptics in my lectures who use higher and lower criticism to attack the material I am presenting. We need to take a brief look at biblical criticism to understand it and to be prepared to defend the faith.

Higher criticism has sometimes been used to attempt to prove that one book or another in the Bible is fraudulent. In 1805, for example, a scholar by the name of W. M. DeWette tried to prove that Deuteronomy was not written by Moses but by Jerusalem priests in the time of Josiah. DeWette’s assertion was widely accepted until archaeologists proved that many parts of Deuteronomy reflect a period earlier than that of Josiah. In the nineteenth century, it was popular to claim that all ancient biblical manuscripts must be assumed fraudulent unless proven true. Archaeology has mostly removed that negative attitude, but it is not uncommon to run into it even today.

Many proponents of higher criticism attempt to use style as a means of proving a biblical manuscript fraudulent. A good example of this is first and second Peter. The styles of these two books are very different. Why would that be since they are supposedly both written by Peter? Subject matter can make a huge difference in the style of writing. Gilbert Highet of Columbia University pointed out that Cicero had at least six different styles depending upon what he was writing. There is even the possibility that Peter wrote one book in Greek and the other in Aramaic which would automatically produce significant differences in style.

There are questions about the Bible that higher criticism may help us solve. The Bible designates Moses as the author of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy but does not identify the author of Genesis. Jesus identifies Moses as the author of the same four books but makes no mention of the author of Genesis. If higher criticism could verify the authorship of Genesis, it would be a welcomed contribution to our understanding.

However, instead, some scholars have attempted to prove that the first and second chapters of Genesis were written by different authors who disagreed with each other. They ignore the fact that those chapters were written for different purposes and to show different relationships. Higher criticism scholars have also raised questions about the authorship and dates of some of the Psalms and Hebrews. We must remember that higher criticism is the work of people who have preconceived ideas and prejudices that affect their conclusions.

Higher criticism is at best a tool to help us understand some concepts related to God’s Word. If we believe that the Holy Spirit was active and that the Bible was God-breathed, we will not be shaken by the winds of modernism that roar through the religious world today. Excellent and open-minded scholarship has, over the centuries, confirmed and supported the concept that the Bible is the Word of God. Letting the Word speak to us is the doorway to a closer walk with God.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

STD Rates Increasing

STD Rates Increasing

In August 2018, the Center for Disease Control released 2017 data showing STD rates increasing. The report showed a radical increase in the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The CDC says that 2.29 million new cases of these three common sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in 2017. Gonorrhea led the way with a 19% increase in cases in that year.

The CDC suggests that the reason for the STD rates increasing is a lack of government funding on sex education. There has been no increase in federal spending in that area since 2013. We would suggest that education about the mechanics of how to avoid STDs won’t change the trend. People won’t change their behavior until they truly understand the purpose of sex and how sexual behavior functions in committed relationships.

We have pointed out before that more and more Americans say “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. That is especially true for the younger generation. Without a religious basis, how can young people understand that sex is a creation of God that binds parents together in a loving, healthy home? The answer to STD rates increasing is not more funding, but more faith.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from USA TODAY, August 29, 2018, page B1.

Archaeological Discoveries at Masada

Archaeological Discoveries at Masada
More than 2000 years ago, King Herod built a fortress in the Judean Desert that could house 10,000 soldiers. He equipped it with five palaces and water installations which included three bathhouses and a swimming pool. Masada is a butte with incredibly steep sides making it an easy place to defend. When Rome set out to defeat the Jewish zealots, the rebels sought refuge at Masada where they held out from A.D. 66 to 73. In recent years there have been new archaeological discoveries at Masada.

Archeologists have been exploring the remains of Masada for a very long time. In the past ten years, new technology has revealed a great deal of information about the history of Rome, Palestine, the Jewish community, and the Christian community. Biblical Archaeology Review for September/October 2018 carries an excellent article about what they have learned. The discoveries have strong implications for the credibility of the Bible and help us understand the conditions that existed at the time of Jesus and during the early years of the Church. Here are some of the recent finds:

Masada had an advanced water system, enough to produce extensive agriculture including a winery with 50 fermentation tanks.

Herod had huge gardens with trees and flowers as well as agricultural products.

There was an Essene community at Masada. The Essenes are the Jewish group that left us the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Jews had animals of burden during the siege by the Romans.

A Christian community had a chapel on Masada by A.D. 400 and a Church which included a monastery on Masada from the fifth to seventh centuries.

Archaeological discoveries at Masada give us new insights into biblical events and beliefs. The interactions of the apostles and Jesus with the Jews and the Romans give us a better understanding of what happened in New Testament times, during the life of Jesus, and for the first 500 years of the Church.
–John N. Clayton © 2018