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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Authentic Scripture Part Three

This is part three of an Ask Pastor George blog on the authenticity of Scripture. We have looked at how the Old and New Testament books were chosen. We also looked at the historical document evidence that what we have today is what was written.  Today we will finish by looking at the archeological and scientific proofs of the accuracy of Scripture. We will also look at what part, if any, King James had in what was included in the King James Version of Scripture.

Those that have been following this blog know that these questions came as part of a larger email I received. It was sent by someone we are calling “Struggling,” who is going through a crisis of faith right now. Again I want to include the relevant part of the email.

“I know I don’t buy into some things, and it’s hard for me to say ‘yes I believe this God thing and the Son thing and the Holy Spirit thing’ when I know that King James messed with the bible by omitting things that displeased him. It makes me doubt the entire book because I don’t know what is left out, if anything was changed, the fact that you can translate some of the words to several words in English. I’m struggling to have faith. Sometimes I want to believe and then other times I don’t.”

Not only do we have the historical document proof that the books of Bible today are accurate as we have them today, we also have proof from the field of archeology of the accuracy of Scripture. What I find the most interesting is that no other historical book has been doubted as much as the Bible. We saw that with the historical documentation and we see it with archeology as well. All the places that someone has set out to prove didn’t exist, or prove to that the Bible was inaccurate by using archeology, have ended up proving the Bible to be the most accurate history book ever written. Here are a few examples.

Until the 1960s there was a dispute about whether Moses could have written the first 5 books of the Bible because there was no know written language when he was supposed to have lived.  There was thought to have been no legal proceedings then and so no book of laws. Then the Elba Tablets were found.  These were a written language and legal documents from before the time of Moses. 

Genesis 11 talks about one common language for all people.  Recently archeologists discovered that all languages come from a common root language. Another win for the accuracy of Scripture contrary to what skeptics thought.

The most famous example of archeology proving the Bible to be accurate is the case of Sir Walter Ramsey. Sir Walter is known as the Father of Modern Archeology. It is his techniques that are still used to secure and process dig sites. In the late 1800s Ramsey, who was an atheist, set out to prove that the books of Luke and Acts were full of inaccuracies.

He spent 25 years searching for 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands mentioned in those books (and nowhere else) as well as several people mentioned only in those books. In the end he could not find a single mistake and found everything he looked for. He concluded, “Luke was one of the most accurate historians who ever wrote.” Influenced by the evidence he found, he became a Christian.

Now we will turn from archeology to Science. Though you will never hear this in a Science class, Science has again and again proven the Bible to be true and accurate. Look at the following “scientific discoveries” that were already in Scripture, sometimes thousands of years before scientists “discovered” them:

Isaiah 40:22 says the Earth is round. Isaiah was written around 700 B.C.  This fact was discovered byColumbusin 1492.

Job 38:14 says the earth turns on an axis, while Isaiah 40:12 and Psalm 104:5 say that it is perfectly balanced. Job was written around 2000 B.C. and Psalms around 1440 B.C. In 1959 scientists discovered that the earth does indeed rotate on an axis and is perfectly balanced.

Galileo discovered that the wind has currents and weight in 1616 just as the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 1:6 and Job 28:25.  Ecclesiastes was written in 935 B.C. — 2551 years before the “discovery.”

In 1953 doctors discovered that a person’s emotional health influenced his or her physical health just as Solomon had said in Proverbs 16:24 and 17:22. Proverbs was written around 970 B.C. — again, over 2500 years earlier.

In the 1700s scientists thought that there were only 1056 stars. With the invention of the telescope we discovered they are countless, just as Jeremiah 33:22 says. Jeremiah was written in 627 B.C.

These are but a few of the 1800 scientific discoveries the Bible mentions long before man discovered them. So, contrary to what we often hear, Science proves the accuracy of Scripture.

Now we will focus on King James and the KJV. How much influence did the king actually have on the translation that bears his name.  This is important to know because recently there has been this school of thought that the king had things that he didn’t like changed or left out of Scripture.

Much has been made of this supposed change that King James imposed on his translation. So let’s look at what those changes were. The following two paragraphs are directly from Wikipedia.

“Instructions were given to the translators that were intended to limit the Puritan influence on this new translation. The Bishop of London added a qualification that the translators would add no marginal notes (which had been an issue in the Geneva Bible).[9] King James cited two passages in the Geneva translation where he found the marginal notes offensive:[42] Exodus 1:19, where the Geneva Bible had commended the example of civil disobedience showed by the Hebrew midwives, and also II Chronicles 15:16, where the Geneva Bible had criticized King Asa for not having executed his idolatrous grandmother, Queen Maachah.[42] Further, the King gave the translators instructions designed to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England.[9] Certain Greek and Hebrew words were to be translated in a manner that reflected the traditional usage of the church.[9] For example, old ecclesiastical words such as the word “church” were to be retained and not to be translated as “congregation”.[9] The new translation would reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and traditional beliefs about ordained clergy.[9]

“James’ instructions included several requirements that kept the new translation familiar to its listeners and readers. The text of the Bishops’ Bible would serve as the primary guide for the translators, and the familiar proper names of the biblical characters would all be retained. If the Bishops’ Bible was deemed problematic in any situation, the translators were permitted to consult other translations from a pre-approved list: the Tyndale Bible, the Coverdale Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Great Bible, and the Geneva Bible. In addition, later scholars have detected an influence on the Authorized Version from the translations of Taverner’s Bible and the New Testament of the Douay-Rheims Bible.[43] It is for this reason that the flyleaf of most printings of the Authorized Version observes that the text had been “translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty’s special command.”

Notice that the only changes were ones of consistency, such as using the translation “church” instead of “congregation.” Also a couple of footnotes were left out, but not actual Scripture.

The final evidence that King James did not change anything significant is the fact that history declares that James preferred the sexual company of men. In other words King James was a homosexual. Yet the KJV has several Scriptures that indicate homosexuality is a sin. If King James was going to change things, the sin of homosexuality would have been one of the first things changed.

Having looked at how accurate the Bible we have today is, based on the historical documents it was translated from, as well as archeological proof and scientific discovery, I think we can accurately conclude that what we have today is what was written.

I hope that this three part blog has helped to assure you of the accuracy of the Bible you have in your house today. Next we will look at the other pressing issue “Struggling” mentioned. How can a loving and just God say there is only one way to heaven?

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Authentic Scripture Part Two

Authentic Scripture Part Two

So, we are continuing with the blog that we started yesterday on the
authenticity of the Bible as we have it. I am writing this in response to an email I received a few days ago from someone we are calling “Struggling.” I am posting only the part of the email that is relevant to this discussion:

“I know I don’t buy into some things, and it’s hard for me to say ‘yes I believe this God thing and the Son thing and the Holy Spirit thing’ when I know that King James messed with the bible by omitting things that displeased him. It makes me doubt the entire book because I don’t know what is left out, if anything was changed, the fact that you can translate some of the words to several words in English. I’m struggling to have faith. Sometimes I want to believe and then other times I don’t.”

 

Yesterday we looked at why the Old Testament books that are considered the Scripture are there and the historical accuracy of those texts. Today, we will look at the same for the New Testament.

There are 27 books that are considered Scripture in the New Testament.  They’re the four Gospels, the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude, the epistle to the Hebrews, and John’s Revelation. What caused these to be chosen and not books like the Gospel of Peter, Thomas, or Mary?

Early Church leaders used several criteria to decide which books would be included:

  1. Apostolic Origin – attributed to and/or based on the preaching/teaching of the firstgeneration apostles or their closest companions.
  2. Universal Acceptance – acknowledged by all major Christian communities in the Mediterranean world by the end of the fourth century.
  3. Liturgical Use – read publicly along with the OT when early Christians gathered for the Lord’s Supper (their weekly worship services).
  4. Consistent Message – containing theological ideas (incl. the divinity and humanity of Jesus) compatible with other accepted Biblical writings.

The books that were not included in the Bible didn’t meet these criteria. So when were they set and who set them? The truth is that the Apostles themselves started setting them, and the Church itself  refined the process through the end of the fourth Century(399 AD).

These so-called “other” gospels and epistles have all been found to have been written in the second and third century, not within the lifetime of those who supposedly wrote them. In other words, the person who supposedly wrote them, did not. They at times contradict the teachings of Jesus as written by those who were there and heard them. They also have few copies and were always found amongst the writings of other agnostics or people who believe Jesus to be a good teacher or prophet but not the living Son of God.

In contrast to those agnostic gospels and epistles, those included in the New Testament have over 24,633 known first century copies. The most of any historical document. Even more amazing is that these hand copied documents are 99.5% identical to each other. The differences are a few verses left out or spelling issues again. Nothing in the differences change the meaning of those teachings of Christ in them.

You may say why is that a big deal? The next largest number of “authentic” historical documents of a single work is Homer’s Iliad and it has only 650 known copies and they are only 80% identical. Yet there is never any doubt about if the Iliad you are given to read in school is the Iliad as Homer wrote it. This kind of doubt is only reserved for the Bible, even though there is a wealth of copies to prove what we have in the New Testament is what was written and used by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

King James had no input into these processes. They were done long before the translation attributed to him was written in 1611. They were set by several groups of biblical scholars in the second, third, and fourth centuries.

The next blog will show both archeological and scientific proof of the accuracy and divine inspiration of the Scriptures in the Bible. I will also address the supposition that King James had things changed or left out that he didn’t like in Scripture. Then we will dive into the second part of this email and look at the problem “Struggling” has with Jesus as the only path to the “One True God.”

If these bogs are helping you to understand how the Bible came to be, please take a few minutes and let me know by leaving a comment here, at my Facebook page, or by email at pastor.george.mcvey@gmail.com. Till next time, keep seeking God with all your heart and He will be found by you.

PG

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Authentic Scriptures part one

This Ask Pastor George email is a big one and will take more than one blog post to cover everything. However, as a Pastor I hear the heart crying in this email,so I’m jumping it to the head of the list. We will be breaking this down and spending more than one blog on this letter.

 

Pastor George,

I have a very hard time identifying myself as a Christian,  because I’m not sure I believe it. I know I don’t buy into some things, and it’s hard for me to say ‘yes I believe this God thing and the Son thing and the Holy Spirit thing’ when I know that King James messed with the bible by omitting things that displeased him. It makes me doubt the entire book because I don’t know what is left out, if anything was changed, the fact that you can translate some of the words to several words in English. I’m struggling to have faith. Sometimes I want to believe and then other times I don’t. One of the hardest teachings for me to buy into is the concept that if you are not of Christian faith and believe in Jesus as the Son of God then you go to hell or are denied entry to heaven (though in my brain they are the same concept). I don’t understand how a kind and just God would deny someone who was devout in another religion, such as Islam or Judaism, and a generally good person, entry to heaven, but a murderer can be ‘saved into heaven’, so to speak, by using the sinner’s prayer. Granted I know the murderer would still get his penance, but it is just, on a moral stand-point, wrong that he could be saved into heaven, but those of a different faith would not be. All of the major world religions share many teachings, though the wording may be different. I know I’m not God and I can’t make the decisions for Him but it seems that the moral compass is a bit skewed in this situation. Iif indeed a Muslim who is devout and good, who believes Jesus as a prophet and not as a Son of God can get into heaven, then why is that passage in the Bible that says more or less ‘there is no way into heaven but through me [referencing Jesus I believe]’? The entire concept of believing in the wrong religion or being taught in the wrong religion will send you on the fast track to damnation bothers me. HELP!-

 

–Struggling—

 

I am going to start with the first thing you mention and we will deal with that one today.  The Bible as we know it. Has it been changed? How do we know what King James, or anyone else for that matter, didn’t leave out or change things to please himself. To answer that, have to look at how the Bible was translated and how it was maintained before it was translated.

Also we have to look beyond King James because that is not the only translation out there now. There are two questions that must be answered to give us peace about the Bible. The first is- How were the books which are included in the canon chosen? The second is- How do we know those books are still as accurate as when they were written?

There are entire seminary classes on this topic but I am going to try and keep it down to three blog posts. Let’s start with: Why are some books included in Scripture and some aren’t? You may be surprised to know that King James actually had very little to do with the translating and choosing of scripture.

Here is an article that will give you the basics of how the choices were made. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/canon.html  The choice to limit the old testament to 39 books was actually not made by the church at all, but was made by a group of  Jewish Rabbi’s. Their reason was that of the 46 books that had been included, only 39 were in Hebrew, proving them to be authentic.

The church followed them in their selection but again, it wasn’t King James who made the final decision. It was Luther, who wasn’t even English but German. Catholics, for several years kept all 46 books, but eventually moved seven of them into a section of Scripture called the Apocrypha, meaning “hidden works”. The reason for that is because they are not found anywhere written in Hebrew, the language used by Jewish people in the Old Testament.

Here is another little known fact: the 39 books that make up the Old Testament  only have two known original Hebrew copies. There are a thousand years between them and yet they are 95% similar. The only differences are in the way words are spelled, but not a change so much as a misspelling. The content and meanings stay the same. 

Finally on the Old Testament, yes, Hebrew words can mean more than one thing but that is always based on the context of the word with the other words around it. What is impressive historically is that there is no meaning change in over a thousand years.

Next blog will talk about how the New Testament books were chosen. Until this question of the Bible is fully answered, I will be blogging daily.

‘Struggling’, I pray that this helps explain some of the reasons the Bible contains the books it does. Stay with me till the end of this topic and you will see the accuracies of Scripture as we know it.  Next week I will tackle the next part of your Email. The question of  How a kind and just God would send the devote of  other religions to hell.

Until tomorrow, keep thinking and asking questions. After all Jesus also said “seek and you will find.”

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A Question of Forgiveness

I received this question and situation this past week while online.  I thought it would be a great way to kick off the week here at ‘Ask Pastor George’. I personally believe that this is a rampant problem within the Christian community.  So without any further hoopla, let’s get into today’s question.

Pastor George,

I’ve been struggling with how to deal with my daughter-in-law She’s been cold and distant for a while. Barely civil. She’s acting like her mother who had a reputation in the area as a ‘cold bitch’. I don’t know how to deal with it without being the bitchy mother-in-law. What suggestions do you have for me?

I was so upset this morning at church I had to leave. I was sitting by my son and he hasn’t even contacted me to see if I’m okay. I am sure it is because of his wife and her attitude.. I’m so down right now, I don’t know what to do.  Can you help?

–E—

Dear E,

Let me start by saying I do have a couple of suggestions for you. I also have prayed about your situation and think I know what is at the heart of your feelings in this matter. I plan to address them both.

First let me say that I don’t know everything about your situation. I am only getting your side of this and would not contact your daughter-in-law if I could. So I am only able to deal with what the LORD has showed me along your side.

What you are struggling with mostly is- how do you deal with difficult people in your life? Especially if they are in your family.  My answer is two fold. One: let me suggest that you get a copy of the book “The Love Dare”.  It is a great resource in reaching out in love to those who are difficult to love not just spouses. You read and act upon its suggestions geared towards your daughter-in-law.  At the same time ask God to let you see your daughter- in-law as he sees her.

Second: What you are really struggling with is a situation that a lot of Christians, even myself, have and do still struggle with– the sin of unforgiveness.  That’s right, unforgiveness is a sin.  I say that because it is one of the few commands that Jesus actually gave while he was on earth. We find the command first in Mathew 6:14&15. These two verses tell us not only to forgive others, but the consequences if we don’t. If we forgive others who wrong or sin against us ,then God will forgive us when we wrong or sin against HIM. If we don’t forgive others, HE won’t forgive us either. That in itself is scary when you think about it.

IF that passage doesn’t scare you I suggest that you read Matthew  18:32-35. This parable, in answer to Peter’s question on how often to forgive, scares the pants off me. At one point in the parable, the king turns the servant over to “tormentors”.That word is translated everywhere else in scripture as demon’s.  Then in verse 35 Jesus says if we don’t forgive others, His Father will not forgive us. This is why unforgiveness leads to such unrest and torment for believers. You have legally opened a door in your life for demons to have the right to torment you.  The fruit of unforgiveness is, first off, torment that grows into bitterness. Like any sin, or like untreated cancer, it spreads until it has completely taken over your life.

If forgiveness is a command, then we must realize that it is something we choose to do.  You don’t wait till you feel like forgiving to do so. You choose to forgive. Having said that, let me offer a little exercise that I have found helpful in my own life, for choosing to forgive others.

  1. Make a list of those you need to forgive.
  2. For each person on the list give specific things (wrongs against you) that you need to forgive them for.
  3. Pray the following Prayer:  God I choose to forgive ___________ for __________ because it made me feel ______________. (Be specific in your feelings. This will allow God to sooth them and help you to heal faster). I give the feelings to you God. I ask that you Bless ___________ now with your love and mercy. Also God, fill me with your love and compassion for ________. In Jesus name, Amen.
  4. When those feelings of hurt try to come back to you, realize that it is a demon trying to get you to open the door for him again. Make the statement aloud, “I choose to forgive ________. That is now in God’s hands not mine.”
  5. Take and mark each name and offense off your list as you pray about them.
  6. Destroy your list. I usually suggest making them a burnt offering to God.  But however you do it, destroy the list completely.

You may ask how will any of this change my daughter-in-law?  It may not change her at all. Repentance and life changes are between her and God. However, I promise you and anyone else who does this, it will change you. Your feelings of resentment and bitterness will turn to feelings of love and compassion. Plus, who knows but that your Christ-like love might just be the thing that does change your daughter-in law -and anyone else you feel resentment towards.

This I do know– it will make you feel better and help you to cope with any situation better. Plus, you will be following a direct command of your LORD and SAVIOR.  You can never go wrong doing that.

Until next time, know that I am praying for you,

PG

copywrite May 2012 by George McVey

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized