Friday, November 30, 2012

Explorations in Antiquity Center: Sheep From the Goats

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Why are the sheep separated from the goats?

This question was posed to Dr. James Fleming, one of the most knowledgeable teachers of Biblical Archaeology, on our show Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Fleming lived and taught in Israel for 37 years at Jerusalem University College and at the Hebrew University. His first claim to fame is that he discovered the ancient Eastern Gate buried beneath the current one. Dr. Fleming has walked or motorcycled about every square mile of Israel, and is so familiar with Israel past and present that Israeli tour guides come to him for training.

He now operates the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, an interactive museum where people here in the U.S. can experience the life and times of Jesus Christ in the First Century. It's a fascinating place, and so in this series we're going to tour the facility to glean new insights into the Bible by understanding the manners, customs and times of the Bible.


Explorations in Antiquity Center

Temporary Sheepfold

Dr. Reagan: Tell me about what this temporary sheepfold is all about.

Dr. Fleming: Right, when you're grazing overnight you have to have a place to protect the sheep at night. You get sharp sticks or thorns and you have to make an enclosure with a removable gate. Predators of course feed at night. So, the most dangerous time for the protection of the sheep is at night. You're trying to find a place where there's a few little caves if you can, particularly because the desert is cold at night and hot in the day. You try to have a sheepfold in the area of your encampment even if you only go part of the year in one location and then come back to a permanent sheepfold, particularly for the winter.

Temporary Sheepfold

A sheepfold needs to be sufficient to keep the sheep in. What happens is not only to keep the sheep in, but it's also to keep the predators out. You have sharp stick pointing out of the walls at the top. Even though some could jump over the wall, they won't because they know they can't pull the animal out over the sharp sticks.

Dr. Reagan: This is rather like putting glass on top of the walls like can be seen today in Jerusalem.

Dr. Fleming: Exactly. The soft underside of the predator doesn't like those spears, so they keep them out.


Permanent Sheepfold

Dr. Reagan: Let's step inside and see what a permanent sheepfold looks like. First of all, why is it divided?

Dr. Fleming: It is because of the difference between the sheep and the goats. Goats are much more sure footed and need a higher wall. Their wall is higher than the sheep wall. For sheep, a lower wall is fine. When you come in there is a little slide gate. You separate the sheep from the goats because they'll need a higher and more secure sheepfold.

Permanent Sheepfold

Dr. Reagan: In the back it looks like a cave.

Dr. Fleming: Yes, you have two mangers, one for feeding and one for watering. In Bethlehem it can get to 20 degrees in the winter and 120 in the summer. If you have a cave at least 10 feet deep, it will remain 69 degrees year round. That's the insulation factor. There are also mangers and sheepfolds inside the caves. The earliest traditions from the Second Century AD and the Gospel of James which didn't make it into the cannon, but it mentions that Jesus was born in a cave. If you were to ask people in Jesus' day where one would most likely to find a manger, well 90% of the mangers were inside caves again because of the insulation factor.

Dr. Reagan: I often wondered about that because I'd always heard about a cave being the place of Jesus' birth, but I didn't know why that would have been the reason for using a cave.

Dr. Fleming: Yes, caves are where you would keep the animals, especially in the fall and winter time. You are going to keep them in there due to the temperature, as well as for the health of a mother and the new born babe, you see. When there is no place in the guest room, there would still be a constant temperature in a cave for a guest, so caves are good for a mother and baby as well.


In the fourth part of this series with archaeologist Dr. James Fleming at his Explorations in Antiquity Center, we'll glean some biblical insights by learning what life in the First Century was like when it came to building with stone.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Explorations in Antiquity Center: The Good Shepherd

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

What is meant by the Good Shepherd laying down his life for his sheep?

This question was posed to Dr. James Fleming, one of the most knowledgeable teachers of Biblical Archaeology, on our show Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Fleming lived and taught in Israel for 37 years at Jerusalem University College and at the Hebrew University. His first claim to fame is that he discovered the ancient Eastern Gate buried beneath the current one. Dr. Fleming has walked or motorcycled about every square mile of Israel, and is so familiar with Israel past and present that Israeli tour guides come to him for training.

He now operates the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, an interactive museum where people here in the U.S. can experience the life and times of Jesus Christ in the First Century. It's a fascinating place, and so in this series we're going to tour the facility to glean new insights into the Bible by understanding the manners, customs and times of the Bible.


Explorations in Antiquity Center

Bedouin Tent

Dr. Reagan: We are now at what looks to me like a Bedouin tent, but let's let the expert tell us what it is.

Dr. Fleming: This is goat hair of a brownish-black color. When it's dry there's a very large space in the weave allowing light to shine through. As soon as it gets wet, the hair swells and it becomes waterproof. It works perfectly.

When you look up towards the sun in the day through the tent it looks like you're looking at the Milky Way. The word in the Old Testament for the night sky is the "tent of the heavens." God has just unfurled the tent in heaven.

Bedouin Tent

Dr. Reagan: The Bedouins still use tents like this in Israel today. You can see them on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Dr. Fleming: Yes, though I'm afraid they're a lot more plastic nowadays, but there still are some traditional tents.

There's always in antiquity and even today among the Bedouin a divided section for a woman and children. Women would have been in one section, so Sarah would have been standing off on one side listening to Abraham talk with his angelic guests in another section where Abraham would have been receiving others.


Sheep Dogs

Dr. Reagan: There is a little interesting item hanging on the tent which is fascinating. What in the world is it?

Dr. Reagan: Believe it or not, it's a dog collar. The predators were all around, like today it is the grey wolf in the north. Back in antiquity you had lions and bears along with wolves. The dogs actually wore a spiked dog collar because its neck is the place the wolf is going to tear at on the dog.

Sheep Dog Collar

Dr. Reagan: Why didn't the shepherds put those collars on the sheep?

Dr. Fleming: No, it was just on the guard dogs. The shepherds needed to have the guard dog for their hearing abilities as well. These dogs were huge watch dogs. Modern day shepherds even cut the dog's ears today so that the wolves won't have the chance to bite onto something.

The main point is this — most people don't realize how dangerous it was to be a shepherd in biblical times. When Jesus said the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, He meant it. I'd imagine people living near grazing areas would hear every week of a shepherd being attacked. For example, David talked about killing a lion and a bear, so such attacks were pretty common then.


In the third part of this series with archaeologist Dr. James Fleming at his Explorations in Antiquity Center, we'll glean some biblical insights by learning what life in the First Century was like when it came to housing sheep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Explorations in Antiquity Center: Where the Bible Comes to Life

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

How can we gain more insight into the Bible?

This question was posed to Dr. James Fleming, one of the most knowledgeable teachers of Biblical Archaeology, on our show Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Fleming lived and taught in Israel for 37 years at Jerusalem University College and at the Hebrew University. His first claim to fame is that he discovered the ancient Eastern Gate buried beneath the current one. Dr. Fleming has walked or motorcycled about every square mile of Israel, and is so familiar with Israel past and present that Israeli tour guides come to him for training.

He now operates the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, an interactive museum where people here in the U.S. can experience the life and times of Jesus Christ in the First Century. It's a fascinating place, and so in this series we're going to tour the facility to glean new insights into the Bible by understanding the manners, customs and times of the Bible.


Explorations in Antiquity Center

A Little About the Explorations in Antiquity Center

Dr. Reagan: We're going to start with Jim Fleming in the threshing floor of his garden here at the Explorations in Antiquity Center.

Dr. Fleming: I'm glad you came back this time 2,000 years earlier to see me again.

Dr. Reagan: Jim, this is I think the third time that I have visited one of your sites. The first time was on Bethlehem Road right in Jerusalem. Then you had a lot of trouble there from Palestinians who were coming in and causing damage, so you moved to Ein Kerem which is a suburb of Jerusalem. Now you're here to LaGrange, Georgia. Tell us a little bit about that process.

Dr. James Fleming

Dr. Fleming: Our ministry in Jerusalem was important for Christian tourism, so we charged Christian tour groups. But, whenever we had a Jewish or Muslim group within the country like a school, synagogue, or even a mosque visit the museum, we always offered entry for free because we had then an educational moment for Christian witness to non-Christians.

Once tourism began to collapse during the Second Uprising from 2000-2005, visitors almost completely disappeared. We were unable to pay our landlord, so we had to close our gates in 2005 at the Ein Kerem property. So, we came to the US wondering, "I wonder if we could build a museum here?" We asked around and we found a foundation in the town of LaGrange, Georgia. The Calloway Foundation said that if we would put the museum here they would give us matching grants dollar-for-dollar for any money that we raised. Now that's an offer you just can't refuse! We felt it was a gift from the Lord.

Dr. Reagan: I've visited all three of your sites and the Explorations in Antiquity Center is the most elaborate, most fantastic, really worthwhile place to bring a Christian group.

Dr. Fleming: I'm glad you can made that evaluation, David, thanks.


A Little About Dr. James Fleming

Dr. Reagan: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, Jim.

Dr. Fleming: It's kind of weird story. I come from an airline family, so I spent most of my life overseas in Asia and Africa. My dad helped countries start their own airlines. I could fly for free, and so when it was time to do graduate studies I thought I should use these free flying privileges to study overseas. I was interested in Biblical Studies so I thought, "Why don't I study in Israel?" So, I studied on the Masters level in Jerusalem, Israel. Later I was privileged to be invited back to teach at the school where I had studied in Jerusalem.

While in Jerusalem, I got more interested in tours pretty much to see the churches or ruins, even though most people have a hard time picturing how a site really looked before it was a ruin. I thought, "If we could have a place where we have reconstructions as to how things originally looked, such as a functioning threshing floor with functional threshing equipment for example, it would really help the Bible come to life for daily life." That idea birthed how I made all of my museums, trying to be in a real setting. We had to actually recreate terrace agriculture and the corresponding implements. But, the idea is to help people climb out of their 20th Century skin and don sandals and go back to biblical times.

Dr. Reagan: When you went to Israel you gave the impression that you went over there to study and that was it, but Israel actually became your home. You lived there for over 30 years, didn't you?

Dr. Fleming: Yes, that's right. For 36 years Israel was my home. In fact, I thought I would probably retire there until we had to close down the museum.

Dr. Reagan: Then an accident happened to you that made you world famous among archaeologists.

Dr. Fleming: You always bring up something that took no foresight nor brilliance. It is called "stumbling into an archaeological discovery." I fell into a hole.

I was photographing around the Old City of Jerusalem and I was taking a picture of the Eastern Gate to the city. It had been raining for several days and so of course the ground became soft. There was a mass burial tomb under where I was standing. Just when I went "click" taking a picture of the top of the gate, I fell down eight feet into the ground. I found myself in a mass tomb surrounded by 46 skeletons. Actually, I didn't count them right away. I wanted first to make sure enough rocks fell in so that I could climb up and it wouldn't be 47 skeletons!

Dr. Reagan: Brother, if I'd fallen down in that tomb I would have walked on air to get out, and here you're counting skeletons! You actually took a camera and started taking pictures, and what did you see in one of those pictures?

Original Eastern Gate

Dr. Fleming: I saw an arch of an earlier gate.

Dr. Reagan: So, you proved that the ancient Eastern Gate was located below the current Eastern Gate, which was a major archaeological debate up to that point?

Dr. Fleming: Yes, that it was finally fully discovered. The top of the arch is in place, which means another 20 feet down or so would be the roadway. I told my archaeologist professor the next day and he thought I fell on my head. "Sure you found the gate," he patronized, but at least he was willing to come back to the site.

Can you believe the Islamic authorities had already cemented the hole over? That's very uncharacteristic of Middle East efficiency back in 1969. At that time I was just a kid.

Dr. Reagan: You may have been just a kid, but you become world famous overnight among archaeologists. That was amazing.

Dr. Fleming: No, no. I think the Lord had a purpose for my life. I do feel that, as we all should.


Why an Explorations in Antiquity Center

Dr. Reagan: Let's talk about purpose for a moment. You've touched on it, but I want you to get very specific. What is the purpose of the Explorations in Antiquity Center?

Dr. Fleming: The Center exists to help people see daily life as the ancients would have seen it. People would then learn to think in the way the ancient people thought, which will help the Bible come alive for them. We read the Bible from a modern way of thinking. So, how can we suspend some of that? The answer is to look at the very practical daily life and imagery from biblical times.

Dr. Reagan: You have many sites out at the Center in what you call your Biblical Garden which is where we're going to be taking a look at. You also have an educational center were you have an auditorium with maps and all kinds of multi-media presentations and programs you can present, correct?

Dr. Fleming: Yes, we try to run conferences. We have some areas particularly geared to clergy. Most of what we do though is for the layperson who is interested in the life of the Church.

Dr. Reagan: Also inside your main building you have some places where you can have a biblical meal and see what the Last Supper really looked like.

Last Supper

Dr. Fleming: Right. There have been so many archaeological discoveries that give a completely different idea than church art historically has.

Dr. Reagan: Could you give me an example off the top of your head why how better understanding the culture of the First Century would better help people understand something that's said in the Bible?

Dr. Fleming: Only a thousand come to mind! Okay, did you know houses in the time of Jesus were 20 to 40 rooms holding 50 to 75 people over three to four generations, all living in one house? All relatives by marriage lived in one house. That little fact helps you reinterpret parables. Why does the woman when she has lost one out of ten coins tell her friends and neighbors? It's because they're looking for it as well. They all live together and share cooking rooms, courtyards and storage rooms. You see, the story is in the context of a collective identity. Part of such a system can be rough because everybody knows everything about everybody and talks about them all of the time, but the good part of living in such a way is that you have a great support system.

Dr. Reagan: Living among so many family members is sort of your social security system?

Dr. Fleming: Yes, there was no need for care institutions for the elderly. So, collective living gives you a new nuance in understanding these stories. We can then understand that life then meant there was little private matters like we think in the United States where it is such an individualistic country. When the prodigal son wished his mom and dad were dead and asked for his inheritance in advance, well everybody knew about it. It's not just the one family that knows, but all of the relatives, even relatives who are not even there. The son had embarrassed that neighborhood and even the whole town.

Dr. Reagan: So, in a town like Nazareth which was tiny with maybe 200 people, everybody knew everybody and everything about everybody?

Dr. Fleming: Yes, because they did all things together.

One thing that is really interesting about the story of when Mary and Joseph left Jesus behind in Jerusalem, that "home alone" story, the next day or that night probably as they were counting noses they realized Jesus wasn't with them. They inquired amongst their relatives and friends if anyone had seen Jesus? That meant Mary and Joseph and Jesus had a support system of family and friends who came with them for the coming of age visit of Mary and Joseph's son to Jerusalem. That means Mary and Jesus would not have been alone either with the eventual loss of Joseph, which is apparently so from his absence in the Bible in Jesus' later life.

Dr. Reagan: I would suppose it means too that when Mary became pregnant everybody in town knew about it?

Dr. Fleming: That's the down side, yes.

Dr. Reagan: It probably would have been good for Joseph to take Mary with him to Bethlehem as he had to go because of the Census then. That way no one would have known exactly when the baby was born or the circumstances.


In the second part of this series with archaeologist Dr. James Fleming at his Explorations in Antiquity Center, we'll glean some biblical insights by learning what life in the First Century was like when living in a Bedouin tent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Questions From Non-Believers: Why Don't Christians Follow the Mosaic Law?

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

How can a Christian support the death penalty at the same time be opposed to abortion?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to answer the most frequently asked questions by non-Christians about the Bible and Christianity.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: Let's look at some of the statements that we run across all the time and get your reactions on these. People are always writing in and saying, "How can a Christian support the death penalty at the same time be opposed to abortion?"

Eric Barger: Well, we stand for innocent life. In the case of the death penalty, this is a completely different deal, though. Capital punishment is not about innocent life. In the case of a baby, this is innocent life which we stand up for. So, the argument is a moot point, and one that the Atheist and Agnostic love to throw at us.

Nathan Jones: Yes, it's nothing but legal jargon.

Eric Barger: They are two different and unrelated topics.

Dr. Reagan: It's interesting too from a Christian viewpoint that the death penalty was commanded by God in the covenant He made with Noah, which is an everlasting covenant. That covenant is still in effect today. God said if anyone takes a life, there a life is to be taken (Lev. 24:17). This is a command that originates from the Bible. But, people will say the law was overridden by the New Testament, because the New Testament is all about love. It didn't override the covenant with Noah either, for that covenant is still in effect.

You both are right. Concerning abortion, one is talking about a completely innocent life. The other one is about judgment on the guilty.


How could Christianity condemn homosexuality, yet at the same time eat shrimp?

Dr. Reagan: Can you believe people bring these types of crazy questions up all the time?

Nathan Jones: Oh, Atheist love that one, because they can work up to saying, "You should then be putting to death your children according to Mosaic Law if they transgress this or that." So, they'll accuse, "Why are you eating shrimp, or mixing your threads?"

The answer is simple — we don't live under the Mosaic Law anymore. In fact the Mosaic Law was given only to the Jews. A lot of the 613 Levitical laws were given because the Jews were traveling from slavery in Egypt through the desert in very hostile situations. As slaves for generations, they didn't know how to live out in the Sinai desert. They needed to learn cleanliness. They needed to learn when to drink certain waters and eat certain foods so they won't get sick and die. Those dietary laws applied to them. But, when Jesus came, the Old Testament law was replaced by, "Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor." We live by that grace today.

Eric Barger: Yes, that is exactly right. It's a matter of looking at the Old Testament and understanding the reasons for what was happening there and who these laws were written for, and then looking at the New Testament and seeing the grace and mercy of God fulfilling those laws.

Nathan Jones: Grace also covers the question about people asking if they should be worshipping only on Saturday or if they should reject celebrating Christmas and Easter. Under God's grace, we no longer have to worship on one particular day. Instead, we're to worship God every moment of every day. So, we fulfill the Law, but we are free from the bondage of that law. We can worship God on Christmas and Easter. We don't have to worship on the Jewish holidays, because God gives us that freedom of worship.

Eric Barger: I say if it is Tuesday morning or Thursday night or Saturday, any of those days are fine. Whatever day you pick is okay, but don't you Judaizers tell us that we have to worship on a specific day for us to be saved. That's the bottom line of their argument — it becomes all about my work for my salvation. Really, it's not about what I've done, but instead what Jesus did for me. My works cannot save me.

Nathan Jones: Well, they need to get the day right even. The Sabbath is not Saturday, but from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset if they really want to get legalistic.

Dr. Reagan: I get letters of condemnation all the time primarily from Seven Day Adventists who tell me I am going straight to Hell because I don't worship on Saturday. My response to them is always the same. Go read chapter 14 of Romans. Just read the chapter. Romans teaches that we have freedom in Christ. Really, Romans 14 says this point blank that believers in Christ can give spiritual significance to any day we please and not to judge one another for that choice. So, if I want to give spiritual significance to Christmas, well that's my business. If you don't want to, that's your business. And yet, I don't have any right to condemn you either, and you don't have any right to condemn me.

Eric Barger: That's right. Celebratory days are not a heaven and hell issue according to Romans 14. Paul elsewhere says that all those old celebrations have been done away with. He makes that very clear. By the way, I have actually read that chapter in a Seven Day Adventist Church where I was preaching one time, many, many years ago. They didn't invite me back, of course, but they kind of looked at me funny and shook their heads having to admit it's actually in the Scriptures.


Why do bad things happen to good people?

Eric Barger: We live behind enemy lines. We live in a fallen creation. Therefore, bad stuff is going to happen to good people. Conversely, good stuff is going to happen to bad people. People say that's not fair. Why isn't God doing anything about all the suffering? Have we forgotten that we still have Satan loose on the earth? He's the key right there.

Dr. Reagan: In fact, we are pretty well guaranteed in Scripture if we really give our heart to the Lord Jesus Christ we will be persecuted. Life here is not going to be a bed of roses. Because of our faith in Christ, there's going to be trials. There's going to be tribulations. There's going to be persecution.

Nathan Jones: We have to keep the big picture in mind. This lifespan of ours is 100 years or less. All of human history is 6,000 years plus another 1,000 for the Millennial Kingdom. Beyond, we have an eternity with God in perfection. So, yes, life's rough at this time certainly. After all, they killed Jesus, so it was rough even for Jesus being here in this fallen world. We have an eternity to look forward to where we do not have to suffer. Let's keep our eyes on that prize.

Eric Barger: If someone thinks coming to Christ will make everything in their lives be like a bed of roses and all the time 72 degrees and it's just going to be wonderful and everything will be great, it's not the way of the world that we live in. Sadly, in too many churches we hear that kind of story being taught, claiming that if you just come to Christ today, He has a great plan for your life. He does indeed, but realize that you still might go through lots of trials in life that will mold you into becoming more Christ-like. I can guarantee you as the older I get the more I know that we're going to see all kinds of disconcerting events in our lives. We are going to lose loved ones and suffer setbacks. But, through Christ I know I can handle anything that comes my way if I've got Jesus, and that is the key difference in being a Christian or not.

Dr. Reagan: It's called living by faith.

Eric Barger: That's right. It's not all about what Jesus is going to do for you and the great plan He has for your life. No, it's about my faith and my trust that I put in Him so that I know my eternity has been settled.

Nathan Jones: You reminded me of when I was a decision counselor and we had a guy come down who wanted to be saved. He was blind. He told me that he only wanted to get saved if God could cure him of his sight. Taken aback, I replied, "Well, I can't heal you of your vision, but I can pray that the Lord will." I explained that salvation isn't about the physical. It is about rescue from eternal death and the spiritual walk we'll have with Jesus and all the benefits of that relationship. He just stood up with his cane and walked away. He wouldn't have God unless He healed his sight. I never learned if God ever did heal him. But, to think physical healing was a stumbling block to the salvation of his soul. And, for a lot of people, the suffering in their lives becomes the stumbling block, or they use it purposefully to stumble their faith and be mad at God as an excuse not to accept Jesus.

Eric Barger: Way too many preachers today preach that when you come to Christ everything is going to be fine in your life. We have lied to somebody when we say that. A worry-free life can never be the reason for somebody to come to Christ. Salvation's focus is instead on eternity.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Questions From Non-Believers: Who Really is Jesus Christ?

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Who really is Jesus Christ?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to answer the most frequently asked questions by non-Christians about the Bible and Christianity.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: We're talking about questions that both Christians and non-Christians most frequently ask about Christianity and about the Bible. This is a question that both Christians and non-Christians struggle with. Was Jesus just a man? Was He only a great prophet? Who was Jesus and who is He today?

Eric Barger: Scriptures teach He was fully God and fully man. Jesus is God in the flesh. He came and fulfilled the many, many prophecies that the Messiah had to fulfill in order to be called the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah that the Jews are looking for. He's the one who the Gentiles are looking for. He is the Savior of all men who would come to Him. The Bible says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son." This is what are told in Scripture. This is what the Scriptures speak about concerning Him. "That whosoever believeth in Him would never perish or have eternal life." That's the Jesus we serve. He is God incarnate and the One who fulfilled all of the prophetic passages.

Dr. Reagan: The Bible teaches us that Jesus lived a perfect life and never sinned, therefore when He died He did not die for His sins, but instead He died for our sins. Our sins were place upon Him. His righteousness was transferred to those who in faith believe in Him. Jesus had to die for the sins of mankind, to reconcile us with God.


Why do you believe in such a bloody religion?

Dr. Reagan: Another question that people always throw at Christians is, "Why do you have a belief in such a bloody religion?"

There was a woman in New York City just recently who as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City called a press conference and said to the effect, "I'm fed up with the bloody religion of Christianity." She's a graduate of Baylor University, as a matter of fact. She went on, "I'm fed up with this religion. I have decided we're just going to take all the songs out of the song book that refer to blood. I'm not going to preach about blood." Well, I thought, you're going to have to change the name of your church, for "Calvary" refers to the blood of Christ. Here is a Christian leader saying this. What is it about the blood?

Eric Barger: The blood is an offense to the Devil. I believe that it is the most feared weapon in the arsenal of the Christian. I really do. I believe the blood is the demarcation line between death and life. It's where our sins were paid. It's the difference between Satan having control over each and every human and those who will follow Jesus, being saved because of His precious blood sacrifice.

By the way, the Emergent Church hates the blood. They want a relationship with God, but no bloody cross between us and God.

Dr. Reagan: The Mormon religion will not have a cross anywhere. The cross is offensive to a Mormon.

Eric Barger: And yet, they believe Jesus sweat blood in Gethsemane.

Nathan Jones: Hebrews 9:22 tells us, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." In other words, we have to have something sacrificed on our behalf. So, like the Old Testament, yes they had lots of animal sacrifices, but those animals died in the place of the people for a temporary covering until Jesus who is the ultimate sacrifice died for our sins.

No, Christianity isn't a bloody religion, it is in truth a religion of love. Where else does the Creator God give up His own blood so that we can be saved? Christianity isn't a religion of death and destruction, but a religion of love and grace.

Eric Barger: I mentioned Gethsemane a minute ago, and I want to clarify that, because somebody will hear that and not get the whole picture. We believe that according to the Bible Jesus in Gethsemane sweat blood too, but Mormons never talk about the cross in Mormonism. Gethsemane is the only place that the blood of Jesus is spoken about inside Mormonism, where He sweat great drops of blood.


In the fifth and last segment of this series concerning common questions from non-believers, we'll cover a few questions including, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Questions From Non-Believers: Only One Way to Heaven?

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Is there only just one way to Heaven?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to answer the most frequently asked questions by non-Christians about the Bible and Christianity.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: Let's talk about the accusation that Christians are just too narrow minded and they aren't tolerant enough because we believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven as John 14:6 and other passages teach. We live in an age of tolerance where we should embrace and love everybodies ideas and believe that your opinion is just as good as my opinion. Even among so called evangelicals today, there are some saying there's not really any absolute truth and that your truth is as good as my truth. Is this true?

Eric Barger: Did you call me narrow minded? If you did, praise the Lord, Brother! You've got it.

Dr. Reagan: Jesus must have been pretty narrow minded, for as He said many times, there is no road to God except through Him.

Eric Barger: Jesus didn't say "me and Buddha," or that "Confucius is the way, the truth and the life." No, Jesus stated very clearly in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is the key.

As Christians we certainly want to be conciliatory and we want to be loving and we want to reach out to people. In the process, though, we can't let the values and the doctrinal beliefs that the Scriptures teach us to be let go by and by. And yet, that's exactly what's happened to the Church. This loss of belief in Christ alone is happening in evangelical circles, exactly like it did 100 to 150 years ago with those who used to be the Evangelicals but whom now today we call Liberals. When I say Liberals, I'm not talking politics. Instead, I'm talking about those who claim to be Christians but don't really believe what the Gospels teach.

Dr. Reagan: The fastest growing belief in Christendom today all across the board and in all denominations is the idea that there are many different roads to God. Let's keep discussing that.

Nathan Jones: We then have got to look at the people who are claiming tolerance and are saying all roads lead to God. Usually, to be truthful, they don't really believe in anything. They are the most tolerant because they don't have any true faith by which they believe by, so they are just kind of hoping that whatever belief one has eventually all leads to somewhere. They have an agnostic, general view that there's some God out there, and wish hopefully they'll be going to Heaven one day just so they've got their bases covered.

Dr. Reagan: It seems to me like when they're saying that and they are claiming to be Christians, though, what they're basically doing is loving cults like the Mormons and unbiblical religions like the Hindus and Muslims right into Hell.

Nathan Jones: This shows they're very confused about their belief in Christ, too. They really don't believe in Jesus, so they have to say all these other religions' prophets are right as well.

When we are called "narrow minded," that indeed is a compliment like Eric said, because what we are saying is the claim of Jesus being the only way to Heaven doesn't originate in us. In reality, this comes from God in His Word. God is the One who says that He sent His Son to die for our sins, and that if we believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, we will be saved.

God is giving us a life preserver. He is throwing mankind a lifeline. Praise the Lord we've even got a life preserver! So, we need to grab it and hold onto it with all our might, and be rescued from eternal death. With our eternal fate at stake, we can't be swimming out in the ocean of sin only to have God throw us a life preserver and then we push it away saying, "Oh, no, no, send us a green one." Or, "Send us a square one." Or, "I'll just swim forever." There's no choice in the matter. That doesn't work. No, instead, praise the Lord that we've even got a God who wants us to be saved and gives us the means by which we can be saved — faith in Jesus' saving work on the cross.

Dr. Reagan: Eric, what do you have to say about the claim of there being many roads to God?

Eric Barger: In the Church today we have something called Reconciling Universalism which believes or teaches that when Jesus went to the cross He died for the sins of the whole world, which the Bible says, but that everybody is now saved without faith. Not true, though. Hebrews 11:6 says you have got to have faith to please God. Reconciling Universalists take parts of Scripture out of context and falsely teach that everybody is going to be saved in the end.

Dr. Reagan: They sort of ignore that Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 that the road to Hell is very wide, and the one that's proper is very narrow.

Eric Barger: They do purposefully forget Matthew 7:13-15. Right on the spot! Jesus said concerning the proverbial entrance to Heaven that there is a narrow gate and a wide gate.

Reconciling Universalism is the kind of universalism that I see Christians expose to more often than not. They need to be aware that when Jesus said He was the only way to the Father that was because He loves people.

Jesus didn't proclaim exclusivity just because He wanted to give us something to buttress an argument or so we could beat somebody up with the truth. This isn't about us being right or winning an argument with an Atheist or a New Ager or whomever. No, this is about trying to explain to people what the Bible says so that then they can consider the claims of who Jesus is and what He sacrificed so they can consider Him as Savior and Lord.

Dr. Reagan: I always think about the Ten Commandments and how God gave those for the purpose of helping us to have a very fulfilled life. And yet, people tend to look upon those rules as coming from some kind of arbitrary God who is just trying to keep them from having fun claiming, "I want to be free. I want to do what I want to do." But, what do they do? They go out and get hooked on drugs. How free are they really?

Eric Barger: Not free at all. I for one remember. I know what being a slave to drugs is like.

Nathan Jones: Isn't it sad that the heart is so desperately wicked? I think the basis of this view that we need to tolerate and embrace everyone's sin and we're all going to Heaven and there is no judgment is because people actually want to be sinful. We want to live out our sinful desires. And so, we come up with all these philosophies that will support our desire to rebel against God.

Eric Barger: If there was anything I'd say to someone who is examining Christianity and trying to figure out if it's THE way, go and examine the claims of Jesus Christ. Don't base your studies on the teachings of any particular church, but examine who Jesus said He was. Examine what happened to the disciples, especially the despair they showed when Jesus died. Look at the way Peter cowered the night before the Crucifixion, and then look at the resurrection power that was visited upon them afterwards. That's what Jesus does for people. He changes lives. He changed us sitting here. We weren't born Christians. We might have come from Christian homes or homes that had other Christians in it, but we weren't born that way. We came to Christ based on what He did on the cross for us and His claims of being one with Father God. That's what we're trying to get people to see, not just that we're so right and they're so wrong, but what the Bible teaches concerning all of our eternal destinies.


In the fourth segment of this series concerning common questions from non-believers, we'll tackle the question, "Who really is Jesus Christ?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Questions From Non-Believers: How Important Could Doctrine Be?

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

How important could doctrine be?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to answer the most frequently asked questions by non-Christians about the Bible and Christianity.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: The first question I want you to answer, Eric, is about doctrine. You said people were always asking you, "Do I really have to believe what the Church teaches about this or that belief? Do I really have to believe in the Virgin Birth, or the Resurrection?" How important is doctrine? And, what is the problem with doctrine being taught in the Church today?

Eric Barger: The Church in general, especially here in American, has switched to preaching a "self-help here-and-now" Gospel, also known as a "self-improvement" Gospel. We've substituted marriage seminars for Bible study. Now, there's nothing wrong with marriage help or financial seminars. There is nothing wrong with those. But, we can't just slap a Scripture on top and call it the Gospel. Something is wrong with that.

Our people need to hear the doctrines of the faith. Those doctrines will see them through tough times. It was those doctrines that the apostles taught again and again and again and again so that the whole Church knew what they believed. The students of the Apostles weren't dependent necessarily on going to say to their pastor asking, "What do we believe about this?" They knew what they believed because they had heard it over and over again.

We need to return to sound doctrinal preaching that prepares the Church to understand the basics of Christianity. Too often I've heard pastors succumb to the idea that the latest, greatest, newest book with a workbook that we've all got to buy for everybody in the church to go through, to spend the next six months working on a workbook rather than working on The Book.

Let's come back and look at what the Scripture says; what we'd call the non-negotiables. Certainly, there are secondary doctrines that are negotiable which we don't all have to agree on the exact same way. It doesn't mean that peripheral doctrines as I call them aren't important, but there are heaven and hell issues that we just can't budge on. These of course would be outlined in the Creeds of the Faith.

Dr. Reagan: How about it, Nathan? What are your ideas about doctrine and its importance?

Nathan Jones: People have taken this word "doctrine" and made it out to be a bad word, but it's not. Doctrine is simply what we believe. After all, how could we understand sin unless we study hamartiology? How do we understand salvation unless we study soteriology? How do we understand how churches work and function without ecclesiology? All these are big words that can sound kind of scary, but doctrine is simply categorizing what we believe. We need to understand what we believe so we can defend against the attacks that come from Satan and unbelievers all the time.

Dr. Reagan: The public opinion polls of Christians, even born-again people who say they are born-again Christian which is a Bible-believing, fundamental-type Christian, the latest polls are showing an incredible ignorance concerning doctrine. People who claim to be born-again are actually claiming that they believe Jesus sinned. They don't see why it is so important to believe in the Resurrection, or to believe in the Virgin Birth. Concerning the fundamentals of the faith, we aren't talking about peripherals here. And yet, they don't understand why these topics are so important.

Eric Barger: Yes, some claim the Holy Spirit is an it, rather than the third person of the Trinity.

Dr. Reagan: If you ask them to defend the Virgin Birth, or defend the Resurrection, what would they say?

Eric Barger: Yes, concerning the Resurrection of Christ, if Jesus didn't raise from the grave physically, and this is one doctrine that is attacked all the time, if He didn't raise physically, then we are still lost. Jesus wasn't the Savior if He didn't come out of the grave physically.

Dr. Reagan: I was in a conversation recently were somebody mentioned something so and so said, and I replied, "Yes, but he's not a Christian." They said, "What do you mean he's not a Christian? He's a Bishop of the Church. Who are you to judge him?" I replied, "I have every right to judge him by what he believes and how he lives, and I'm telling you right now, he's not a Christian. The reason is because he denies the Resurrection. You can stand in a garage and say you're a car, but that doesn't make you a car." Anybody who says he's a Christian yet denies the Resurrection, he is not a Christian. You cannot be a Christian and deny the Resurrection.

Eric Barger: We have this very fallacy being taught in seminaries and Bible schools. We have instead the spiritual resurrection of Christ being taught all over and over again. This is the kind of unbiblical teaching that our new seminarians and perspective pastors for the future are being taught.

Dr. Reagan: And yet, the Apostle Paul said that if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, we have no hope (Rom. 4:24-45; 8:11; 10:9; 2 Cor. 4:14-15; Gal. 1:1; 1 Thes. 1:10).

Eric Barger: That's right! We of all men would be most miserable, exactly. First Corinthians 15 is a great resurrection chapter. We have 500 eye-witnesses who saw Jesus alive after He was killed. We have better proof that He's alive than the fact that we are in this room today.


Can a Christian just be a "red letter" Christian?

Dr. Reagan: Another statement I hear so often today particularly from Christians is, "The Apostle Paul said that. I only believe what Jesus said. I'm a red letter Christian. Jesus never spoke out against homosexuality and condemned it. Only Paul did that. It was Paul's personal opinion." How do you deal with such a statement?

Eric Barger: Obviously they want to take just the four Gospels, and only parts of them really. They wouldn't want to take seriously Matthew 24 and Luke 21 and Mark 13, which are some of the prophetic sections. They wouldn't want what Jesus said in the Book of Revelation. So, they'll discount Acts, all the Epistles, the Book of Revelation, and just accept only the four Gospels.

We see who these people are and those who are advocating this view. They are dead smack right in the middle of the Emergent Church Movement. They come out of a liberal background that teaches them that they can pick and choose from the Bible what they want out of it, instead of taking it all as God's revelation to us. A liberal theologian once said that he believed the Bible was a divine mailbox where you could receive messages from God. No, it is THE message, and it's no pick and choose. Either you accept all God has said or nothing.

Dr. Reagan: W.A. Criswell, who was pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for many years before he went home to be with the Lord, used to talk about leopard theology. I asked him what that meant. He answered, "A leopard theologian is one who believes the Bible is only inspired in spots, and he knows what spots. They are the spots only he agrees with."

Eric Barger: That's right! We take up what we like and discount what we don't.

Nathan Jones: Anyway, Jesus talked about marriage and sexual purity, so He did indeed covere the topic of homosexuality.

Eric Barger: Whether Jesus mentions homosexuality being a sin outright or not, the Scriptures are clear it is from both the Old and New Testament. This has nothing to do with how much we love and have compassion for every person no matter what their sin might be. God wants to set people free. Thank God He is setting people free of all kinds of sin, and not just pet sins that people say are less than murder which is terrible so certainly that person needs God. Jesus Christ can forgive us of any and all of our sins.


In the third segment of this series concerning common questions from non-believers, we'll tackle the question, "Is there only just one way to Heaven?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Questions From Non-Believers: Most Frequent

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

What are some of the most frequent questions asked by non-believers?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to answer the most frequently asked questions by non-Christians about the Bible and Christianity.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: Nathan, let's start with you. What would you say are the most frequent questions that you receive from unbelievers?

Nathan Jones: When it comes to unbelievers, there are two groups. Firstly, there are those who come across an article we put out and they really want to know our position. The second group, and this tends to be a bigger of the two groups, are those who just want to attack what we as Christians believe.

For those seekers who really want to understand the biblical supports, they want to know how we can trust the Bible as God's Word. Concerning the Creation, they'll ask how can we believe that God created the universe.

For unbelievers that come in attacking, they'll usually accuse God of being all so bloody and demand to know what's up with all those sacrifices. What's all that blood about? And, since they claim we can't use the Bible to defend itself, they'll ask for some extra-biblical references to the Bible that proves the Bible is God's Word.

Dr. Reagan: Eric, how about the questions you most get?

Eric Barger: There are several of them. I appreciate the one Nathan brought up there at the end concerning the idea of not using the Bible or quoting sections of the Bible and then quoting another section. I'd argue that it's not circular reasoning to use the Bible in its defense, because the Bible is a compilation of different authors and different time periods and is actually 66 books bound together into what we call the Bible.

Okay, a couple of questions that I frequently get cover how we can believe the Bible doesn't have errors. These antagonists claim that the Bible's been doctored, or it's been added to incrementally. I hear all those related questions in which a lot of people want to argue with me about. I don't have a lot of time to just argue. But, for somebody who really wants the truth, I will go the extra mile to try to give them the answers they're seeking.

Another question would be in relation to the accusation that Christianity is way too narrow in saying that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Aren't all religions equal? I get those questions about universalism a lot. People want Jesus on par with Mohammed, Buddha, and the rest.

Another question would be concerning why bad things happen to good people. If God is indeed a God of love, well how could that be with all the suffering going on? I get that question often.

Another question really argues that science should be the way we decide what's truth. I hear that a lot. Of course, the origins of that question always comes back to the idea that Evolution trumps Creationism and therefore Christianity.

From Christians, the question I get frequently is, "Wait a second, do I have to believe all those doctrines to be a Christian?" I had a gentleman come up to me one time not so long ago and say, "I'm a Christian, but I don't believe in that Virgin Birth business." So, I said to him, "It's a free country and you can believe what you want to believe, but I can't call you my brother in the Lord if you don't think Jesus was born of a virgin, because if He wasn't, we're still lost. Why then are your bothering to go to church? We'll need then to be figuring out who the Messiah is because it wasn't Jesus if He wasn't born of a virgin."

There are some doctrines that are non-negotiables, meaning beliefs I can't budge on. There may be a lot of secondary doctrines we can agree to disagree on, but the essentials of the faith that are shown to us in the great creeds of the faith, those are the beliefs that are the essentials. Sadly, a lot of people just don't want to believe in the essential doctrines which make the Christian faith.

Nathan Jones: I'd also add this question to our list, and it's probably one of the biggest ones from Christians, asks if we must worship God on Saturdays? Good Christians are really confused about whether they should be dropping Christmas and Easter and instead worshipping on the Jewish holidays and on Saturdays.

Eric Barger: Interesting, I almost listed that one, too. A minute ago I thought about bringing that question up since I get it so often as well.


In the second segment of this series concerning common questions from non-believers, we'll tackle the question, "How important is doctrine?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

Atheist Arguments: The Bible is Full of Contradictions

Nathan JonesWatch MP3 PDFBy

Is the Bible full of contradictions which disprove its validity?

Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to discuss why Atheists think the way they do.


Eric Barger

Dr. Reagan: Let me ask you this, Eric. Atheists are always saying the Bible is full of contradictions, just contradictions everywhere. How do you answer that false assumption?

Eric Barger: You'll hear that argument from Atheists all of the time. Start by looking at what they say.

One argument they'll use is that they'll claim the Bible isn't really the Word of God because it also has the words of demons and angels and Lucifer. And yet, God speaks in it 3,100 times. God wanted us to know about Himself and about the universe and how to interact with other men so we know what we'll be accountable for. That the Bible is called the Word of God; it is God's Word to us. It isn't necessarily God dictating to a secretary what He wanted us to know. God uses His words and others in the Bible to accomplish His revelation.

Critics say the book of Daniel is out of place with the rest of the Bible, and that's a common argument you'll hear. These people will claim Daniel was written about 150 BC, but when you go back and do the research you can clearly see that this wasn't the case. I could give a long dissertation as to why, and I do so in one of my messages.

Critics will also claim the genealogies are off base. There are all sorts of attacks made against the Bible.

Nathan Jones: They'll try to pick it apart by pulling the threads apart, don't they?

Eric Barger: Exactly, yet none of their arguments are about the substance of who God is and what He's trying to convey in His Word to mankind.

Dr. Reagan: Not only is the Bible validated as the Word of God through fulfilled prophecy, in truth there is just no other book in the world that has fulfilled prophecies. The Bible has prophecies already fulfilled — hundreds of them — about cities and towns and individuals. I'm not just talking about Messianic prophecies.


Archaeological Support

Dr. Reagan: Look at the field of archaeology. Archaeology is dominated by unbelievers. Nearly 98% of archaeologists in the world are people who are not believers and are determined to prove the Bible wrong. And yet, every time these archaeologists turn over a spade of dirt they find new evidence that the Bible really is historically accurate. They have to be some of the most frustrated guys on planet earth!

Compare that to the Book of Mormon for example. The Book of Mormon talks about cities all across of North America and South America, but no one has found any kind of evidence that these cities ever existed. There is just no archaeological evidence whatsoever. But, go to Israel, and everywhere you walk you will find the archaeological evidence of what the Bible describes.

Eric Barger: Right. Mormons weren't helped any by the coming of DNA either, because DNA proved that the American Indians from North, Central, and South America were not the children of Israel who they claimed were Jews who came to this continent.

Nathan Jones: I thought this was a great example of archaeology proving the Bible that came up recently. Someone wrote into the ministry saying that they read Luke 2:1-2, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." They asked why if Quirinius was governor of Syria in 6 AD and, Jesus was born in 4 BC, how do you explain the apparent discrepancy in dates? The answer is through archaeology. An archaeological discovery that answers this is the Lapis Tiburtinus. It's a fragment of a record from that time that pointed out that Quirinius was governor twice and that there had been someone between his first and second tenures. So, Quirinius was indeed governor during Jesus' birth. This is another example of how archaeology proves those little areas in the Bible where we are like, "Hey, wait a minute!"

Dr. Reagan: Another good example is that for years archaeologists have said that David and Solomon had never existed and that they were just simply like King Arthur of Camelot. They claimed these biblical kings were just a folk story among the Jews. Later, archaeologists found a potsherd that speaks about a certain king of Israel being of the House of David. Critics will then say, "Oh, that doesn't really mean David lived." They've always got some excuse to explain the hard evidence that is prolifically there.

The thing that gets me about biblical critics is that they'll find a little papyrus in Egypt, just a little piece of papyrus, and it will have something written on it which they will take easily enough as absolute fact. And yet, here we have the Bible preserved by the Jewish people as no other literature has ever been preserved, but they say the Bible's all just myth, legend and superstition.

Eric Barger: The city of Hazor, which was called the king of the pagan settlements, it was a very important spot in Israel as far as typography goes. Two of the prophets prophesied against it. Jeremiah said that no one will ever live there again. And, no one has ever lived there since. Hazor has to have more snakes and vipers living there as it says in the Bible than anywhere else, and it does.

Dr. Reagan: For years, one of the major attacks on the Bible was that it mentions Hittites. Critics said there was never such a people who ever existed. But then, archaeologists found the whole civilization of the Hittites.

Critics also as late as 1800 were writing books saying the New Testament is full of myth, legend and superstition because it says Jesus spent 3 1/2 years of his ministry primarily in three towns: Capernaum, Korizan and Bethsaida. These critics claim these cities have never existed. But then, in the middle of the 19th Century the archaeologists found all three towns.

Eric Barger: The Atheist were counting on the idea that King Solomon wasn't as smart or as influential as the Bible says he was. They claim he couldn't possibly have had a thousand horses and chariots stabled in one place. But then, in 1945, archaeologists found the stables and took pictures of them.

Dr. Reagan: I've even been to those stables.

Eric Barger: By the way, that discovery stopped the Atheists. The stables became an argument they took off the table. They couldn't use it anymore, but it was their main argument before 1945 against the Bible.


The Constantine Fallacy

Nathan Jones: Eric, one question I get all the time, and this one is really sad. A mother wrote in concerning her daughter who had grown up in the Church and in the faith, but when she went off to college she met a guy who's an Atheist. All he had to say to the daughter was, "Constantine picked what books out of the Bible he wanted and got rid of the rest." Now she's joined him as a meth-head because she's lost her faith. How do you deal with people whose faith is so fragile that all one has to say is, "Constantine got rid of all the books that didn't match what he wanted?" People's faith then crumbles. Is that true? Did Constantine get in there and play with what books he wanted?

Eric Barger: No, Constantine had nothing to do with the formulation of the Bible. The canon was all compiled well before his birth.

Nathan Jones: Which was what, 300 AD or so when Constantine ruled?

Eric Barger: Yes. Between 140-170 AD was when the Church was deciding they needed a standardized set of teachings that the Church could use in all quarters that they could refer to as the written set of teachings. Until that time, even though the letters of the Apostles were circulating, there wasn't a standardized set of teachings before the Muratorian Canon came out, and that took 30 years for them to put it together. They didn't go to the coffee shop one day and say, "Well, boys, I think we've got it." No, these biblical scholars took 30 years to make sure that they had the confirmed teachings of God. They included all but three of the books of the Bible that we have in the New Testament today.

Dr. Reagan: When most churches today seem to have youth programs aimed at fun things and never spending any time on Bible study, what more can we expect when our kids go off and have their faith challenged. They don't know how to defend anything.

Eric Barger: I agree. This is one of the Church's biggest contemporary problems. Our kids are being forced fed Evolution and Agnosticism and that all is well with the sinful lifestyles of others around them. Every day we hear these stories, and yet our youth pastors are too afraid of the kids not wanting to come back, so we have to have something fun for them. But, where is the study? We can't expect a half hour Bible lesson on Sunday morning to be an antidote for 40 hours of schooling which the kids are getting in our secular schools today, especially with the curriculum being so liberal like it is.