Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More Archaeological Proof of King David

I heard a comedian tell a joke during a stand-up routine regarding things he hates about other drivers. He said, “The two kinds of drivers that I hate the most are tailgaters and people who drive so slow that you have to drive right up on their tail to get them to drive faster.” The reason this joke is funny is because it is a classic case of a double standard. According to the Dictionary, a “double standard” is “the application of different sets of principles for similar situations.” In other words, you have one rule for others and a different rule for yourself. The comedian had a personal rule against others tailgating him while he excuses himself from tailgating others. Double standards are rarely, if ever, good. And, one of the worst areas of double standards openly practiced today is in the field of archaeology.

For centuries, scholars whom the world praises as experts regarding documents of historical antiquity (including scholars on Biblical texts and archaeology), have made it a favorite professional past-time to claim that the Bible is fiction in spite of the mountain of evidence to the contrary. For example, the famous David, the killer of Goliath who rose to become King of Israel, has long been criticized by these experts as fictional and largely the stuff of legend. For example, Jacob L. Wright, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory University has written that “the most popular legends about David…are the creation of those who lived generations after him.” Even Wikipedia declares, “Critical Bible scholarship holds that the biblical account of David’s rise to power is a political apology.” However, archaeological findings beg to differ.

In May of this year, Israeli veteran archaeologist, Eli Shukron, announced the discovery of the citadel that was captured by David in his conquest of Jerusalem (recorded in 2 Samuel 5) in a dig spanning almost 20 years. This particular conquest was one that the critics have long claimed to be legend. Given the political sensitivity regarding this city and its existence being central to the present day Israel-Palestine conflict, criticism seems to be largely driven by factors other than evidence. For example, Shukron has unearthed evidence that everything we now know of this archaeological site compares perfectly with the Biblical record. Sample pottery shards helped date the fortification walls to be 3,800 years old, consistent with the biblical record. And, these walls of the city are the largest walls found in the region from before the time of King Herod, which supports what we know of David’s citadel. The fortification surrounded a water spring and is thought to have protected the ancient city's water source. The biblical story of David's conquest of this city provides clues that point to this particular fortification as David's entry point into the city. "I know every little thing in the City of David. I didn't see in any other place such a huge fortification as this," said Shukron. These are just a few examples of the evidence supporting Shukron’s 20 years of conclusions regarding the site. But, the critics drone onward citing various arguments that can all be summed up under the header, “incomplete evidence.”

You might ask, “How is this a double standard?” Well, archaeology freely affords benefit of the doubt with more incomplete fossils, but not with less incomplete Biblical excavations. Benefit of the doubt is almost always afforded to secular conclusions regarding archaeology, but virtually never afforded to those digs that clearly support the biblical record as fact. And, this double standard is astounding in light of the fact that over 25,000 archaeological digs and finds have supported the Bible as the most accurate and reliable historical book of antiquity known to man. You would think regarding all other works and all other disciplines, the Bible has earned the benefit of the doubt above all others.

This double standard in archaeology is driven primarily by two underlying agendas – one spiritual and the other political. Spiritually, the agenda is to discredit the Bible’s authenticity at all costs, even at the cost of double standards. These same critical archaeologists who see the clear evidence from Shukron’s dig, are quick to find every reason to discredit the conclusions as not totally proven. However, that will always be the case with archaeology since archaeology by definition is an incomplete science. There is no such thing as an archaeological dig that contains all of the evidence that you would need to make thorough conclusions beyond all doubt. That said, however, these same archaeologists freely endorse as fact (not opinion) all of the wild extrapolations regarding dinosaurs and other fossils in the fossil record. Every article you see about a finding of a single dinosaur bone is inevitably accompanied by conclusions of what the animal ate, how it swam, what it looked like, how old it was, how it died, and so on. And from just a single bone, they often conjure up such undisciplined conclusions. While that is preposterous to make undisciplined conclusions on its face, it is downright disgusting for archaeologists to criticize Shukron’s and other digs with a level of skepticism that they never submit themselves to. In truth, we know more from Shukron’s dig than probably any dinosaur dig we have ever unearthed to date. And, yet, by their criticism, you would never know that. The obvious double standard can only scream of spiritual or spiritually-blinded agenda.

The second agenda driving the double standard in criticizing biblical archaeology is that of the need to politically discredit the claims of Israel as a nation and Christians as a voice. You see, if the line of King David is further established beyond reasonable doubt and rights to his territorial kingdom supported, the claims against Israeli territorial rights would be to a greater extent discredited. After all, today Israel is effectively divided between Israeli and “Palestinian” political interests. Such evidence is a borderline declaration of war. With regards to Christians as a voice, it is helpful for critics to discredit the line of David. After all, Jesus is the prophesied King of Kings that descended from David’s line of kings. Therefore, they must fictionalize David and Jesus as much as possible in spite of overwhelming evidence against their agenda.

Regarding double standards, Proverbs 20:10 says, “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” As Christians, we must notice a double standard when it is presented and dismiss it accordingly. In the meantime, be encouraged that archaeology continues to support your faith like no others’.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Should Your Conscience Be Your Guide?

One of my work colleagues used to own a brave Labrador. He kept the dog in his yard by use of an invisible fence. The fence worked by inflicting an electrical shock through a collar on the dog’s neck when he got too close to the yard's boundary. But, before the dog receives a shock he receives a series of audible beeps. These beeps are a warning sign that the dog needs to turn around or he will feel the pain of electric shock. This dog knew what that fence could do. However, if he saw something outside the yard that he wanted, he was still brave enough to go get it. In order to do so, he would back up as far away from the fence as he could, bare his teeth and run toward the boundary. As he got close to it, he would howl as he ran right through the pain. That dog learned that if he ran far enough, he would get beyond the range of the fence. The pain would stop and he could go where he wanted. He ignored the warning signals so he could escape the fence's protective boundary. People are not that different from this Labrador. We often ignore the warning signals of our conscience, which otherwise prevents us from doing something wrong. But, if we do this enough something worse happens.

The Dictionary defines conscience as “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.” This begs the question of where such an "inner sense" comes from. Of course, science is entirely incapable of addressing such a question. In fact, the existence of conscience remains as an inexplicable disconnect between humans and animals when viewed through the prism of atheistic evolution. While humans have a conscience, animals are reduced to purely raw instinct totally absent of conscience. Animals have no concept of virtue with many species often eating their own offspring. Since animals don’t have a conscience, where did humans obtain one? We who know God are not incapable of answering this question. 

Our conscience had its beginning in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2 records, “The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” And, of this second tree, God commanded, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Of course we know how the story goes in the following chapter. Eve was deceived by Lucifer (in the form of a serpent) and she and Adam ate the fruit in disobedience to God's singular command. It was at this moment that they obtained full knowledge of good and evil. This is the point at which we as a species received a working conscience unlike all other species. However, this conscience resided in a fallen body. And, the internal spiritual war began in all of us from then until this day. Romans 2:15 says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.”

It is important to note that our conscience, even in the Christian, is not the same as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit (God) is never wrong, but our conscience can be. The battle that rages within us all, between our flesh and our conscience. And, repeated exposure can result in the searing of our conscience. To “sear” something is like burning it as in the way we brand a cow. The cow’s hide is burned to the point of charring. When that burn heals a permanent scar remains. The scar no longer has nerve endings, and, therefore, the scar tissue has no feeling. A conscience that becomes seared is a conscience that ceases to feel or sense what it should. Searing our conscience is like silencing our warning system not unlike the invisible fence to the brave Labrador. We ignore the pain in our heart and we keep running toward wrong behaviors until the signal stops. At that point, we no longer feel like the behavior is wrong. This is how our seared conscience is trained by our flesh to deceive us. For this reason, the cliché, “Let conscience be your guide” can be very dangerous advice.

In his book The Vanishing Conscience, Dr. John MacArthur says, “The conscience entreats us to do what we believe is right and restrains us from doing what we believe is wrong. The conscience is not to be equated with the voice of God. It is a human faculty that judges our actions and thoughts by the light of the highest standard we perceive. When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, consternation, anxiety, disgrace and even fear. When we follow our conscience, it commends us, bringing, joy, serenity, self-respect, well-being and gladness… The conscience, however, is not infallible. Nor is it the source of revelation about right and wrong. Its role is not to teach us moral and ethical ideals, but to hold us accountable to the highest standards of right and wrong we know.” In this regard, searing your conscience is like acquiring a taste for something. If you have to acquire a taste for a certain food or drink that means you don’t like the way it tastes from the beginning. Only after repeated consumption do you begin to like it. In life, we must be ever cautious about acquiring a taste for wrong or unwise behaviors.

How do you know your conscience is seared? If you find yourself addressing a moral gray area with the phrase, "I don't see anything wrong with it," your conscience is probably seared. A sure sign of a seared conscience is an over-reliance on your own opinion rather than God's. You know your conscience is seared when you see that which is wrong as being right. So, how do you know you are guilty of such poor spiritual vision? Well, since God is the source of all righteousness and the One who determines all that is wrong, you know your conscience is seared when you find yourself disagreeing with Him, His Word, or His Bride either in attitude, word or behavior. If you are engaged in any way in even passive disagreement with God, your conscience is to that degree seared. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.” Many in the Church today are actively advocating for behaviors that are condemned even by the pagans among us. And, they do so totally disconnected from God's truth.

So, how do you un-sear your conscience? J. Oswald Sanders said this concerning the conscience, “Every conscience needs instruction. Its delicate mechanism has been thrown off balance by the fall. Just as a bullet will reach the bull’s-eye only if the two sights are in correct alignment, so correct moral judgments are delivered only when the conscience is correctly aligned with the Scriptures.” Romans 13:5 says, “Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” The development of our conscience is always God's work that is in progress. The conscience must be trained to constantly be in subjection to God's Word. The conscience is not infallible. It only knows what it has been taught. And, it can most efficiently be taught through the respectful and regular consumption of His Holy and infallible Word. That is the easiest and most straightforward way. If that sounds too cumbersome for you, there is another way. God can un-sear any conscience without your consent. However, God usually uses pain to accomplish it. He does not have to use pain. However, the more that our searing has deadened our feelings, the more pain it takes to awaken the senses again. Having experienced this personally in my own life, I strongly suggest the easier way as a preventative measure over the corrective way of God’s discipline.

In today’s confused world that routinely defaults to the bowing towards the fleshly answer over the spiritual one, we are bombarded by opportunities to sear our conscience. Too many times, when we are presented with a moral dilemma between two parties or between two opposing factions, we too often take one of the two sides. Sometimes that is warranted. However, when pressed to take a side, the Christian default should be to respond by declaring that you take God’s side and God's side alone. You don’t necessarily take side A or Side B. Rather, you always take God’s side. It is not that seldom that both sides A and B actually oppose God. We should rather be right with God than right with anything other.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Gay Marriage" is Legislated Morality

Earlier this month the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the appeal from five states whose popularly elected bans on “gay marriage” were overturned by a single activist judge in a lower Federal court. This cowardly and underhanded maneuver by the highest court in our land was the probable final significant step in making “gay marriage” legal throughout the country against the will of the majority. Once again, as was the case when the Supreme Court similarly injected abortion rights into the Constitution where it never existed, conservatives are told to be silent under the deception of the cliché, “You can’t legislate morality.” To that I quickly respond, “You can’t NOT legislate morality!”

The first recorded version of this shallow cliché was a quote in 1856 made by James Hambleton regarding the debate over the establishment of a public school system, “You cannot legislate men to morality; you must educate them to liberty and virtue . . . and the schools must give to the country a people who will require no such despotic laws.” This was a shallow and nonsensical argument then and it is a shallow and nonsensical argument now. The simple reasons that it is shallow and nonsensical are that it is both unsupportable and logically impossible. The legislation of morality is unavoidable. All laws are meant to govern morality, without exception. In fact, there isn’t anything else that you can legislate but morality. If you assume that laws are not directed at affecting our moral behavior then you must conclude that laws are strictly written for the disconnected purpose of tyranny. I don’t believe that and I doubt you do either.

Morality is about right and wrong. Every law says one behavior is right and the opposite behavior is wrong. Therefore, all laws legislate morality – the question is whose morality? For example, regarding abortion, the pro-life advocates wants to legislate to require continued pregnancy upon the mother. That is a moral position. But, the pro-choice side wants to impose death on the baby whenever abortion is chosen. That too is a moral (or immoral) position. The pro-abortion advocates also take the moral positions that the father has no right to make a choice and that the baby has no moral right to life much less choice. Finally, the left forces upon us that the only person who has a moral right is the mother. Every one of these positions are moral positions. In fact virtually every position in law and politics is a moral position. All sides, conservative, liberal and all shades in between (even Libertarians) are trying to legislate morality. And, while our politicians and activists blather on, our own unrevised founding documents clearly state as the first guiding principle that our “inalienable rights” have been unto us “endowed by our Creator” and the first among those rights is “life.” Without the right to life, you don’t have anything. The right to life is the right to all other rights. That is why it is listed first in the Declaration of Independence. Sounds moral to me.

Abortion is probably the most famous case where this bankrupt argument was most effectively used (even in the Church). In addition to legislating the right to kill babies, some other examples of laws that legislate morality include:

  • Sin taxes for cigarettes, etc.
  • Prohibitions on the sale and consumption of crystal meth
  • Prohibitions on prostitution
  • Prohibitions on gambling
  • The regulation of carbon emissions
  • Mandating universal health insurance

For the sake of space I will stop the list there. But, without exception, we could list every single law ever passed as an example of attempts to legislate morality.

Isaiah 10:1 warns us, “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees.” What the prophet Isaiah was warning us of was regarding God’s reaction to such people. That reaction was later recorded in Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” We are living in the horrid fruition of that outcome. And, specifically regarding abortion, Psalm 94:20-21 hauntingly says, “Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.” Finally, while Romans 13 commands us to obey our government, when that government commands us to disobey God, Acts 5:29 says, “We must obey God rather than men.” Which is why regardless of what an activist judge rules, God’s Church has but one simple reaction to “gay marriage” – align with God in opposition. Otherwise you are advocating the legislation of a perverted morality. Do you honestly think that God supports the legalization of "gay marriage?"

Regarding “gay marriage” and the recent activities of activists on the left, I have some questions to expose your attempts to legislate our morality. Isn’t it immoral to override the vote of the people against their consent? Isn’t it immoral for you to support a judge that does so? Isn’t oligarchy (the rule of the few, like that by unelected judges) immoral? Given the innate immorality of all men, isn’t it more moral to support the Rule of Law over the rule of men? Where in the Constitution is marriage deemed a civil right? If marriage is a civil right, isn’t it immoral for you to oppose the marriage of adult siblings? Isn’t it immoral for you to oppose the marriage between father and his adult son? Are you incestophobic? Do you hate incestuous adults? Isn’t it immoral of you to oppose the marriage between consenting polygamists? Are you polygophobic? Do you hate polygamists? Don’t you see how you are forcing your morality upon the rest of us without our consent? You choose to support such tyranny while I choose to support the vote of the people. Which is more immoral - tyranny or democracy?

The truth is that the left is certainly in favor of legislating morality as long as it is their morality. In other words they believe and preach to the rest of us that you can’t legislate morality, but you can legislate against it. To my friends on the left, I am willing to make a deal with you regarding the moral lesser of two evils. I will support “gay marriage” if you will join me in unconditionally defending the right to life for unborn children. To my friends on the right, don’t worry - this deal will never result in my support of “gay marriage” because those on the left will never defend the right to life for unborn children. To them, that would be … immoral.

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