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The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The importance of dating for archeology[1] cannot be underestimated.  However, dating does not give the definitive answer to human inquiry.  Take for example the Law Code of Hammurabi, (Hammurabi was a king who reigned in Babylonia between 1792 and 1750 B.C.).

The Ten Commandments, also known as The Decalogue, are traditionally estimated to have been given around 1446 B.C.  Others estimate a later date (i.e. 1290 B.C.).[2] Regardless of the acceptance of either date, the dating indicates that Ten Commandments came after the Law Code of Hammurabi.  This has led some to the conclusion that The Ten Commandments were borrowed from Hammurabi’s Law Code.

Nevertheless, dating only demonstrates timing, not necessarily influence.  It gives a chronology, but it does not lay the foundation.

Resemblances between the two do exist.  But a D. Thomas states that, “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylon.  Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit…”[3]

Thomas’ assessment, I believe, is correct.  Similarity does not always imply dependence.  Especially is this so with the Commandments and Hammurabi’s Code.

The Old Testament Scriptures make known that God Himself gave the Commandments to His people through Moses (Exodus 20).  Any question or doubt of this assertion is a question or doubt of the Old Testament Scriptures.  And any question or doubt cast upon the Old Testament Scriptures (and/or upon the New) is a question or doubt cast upon its One Holy Author.[4]

Dating items of antiquity does not either prove or disprove the Bible to be God breathed and God give.  Neither does archeology.  What archeology can do is to estimate the dates of documents and artifacts, make assessments of the land and its people in comparison with those living at or around the same time, and draw theoretical conclusions where the evidence is lacking.

Dating, as in archeology, is a helpful tool concerning peoples and cultures of the past.  However, archeology has limitations, as does the Bible.  The Bible is not a science text book.  It is not a ‘how-to’ book to better oneself.  It is a book through which God reveals the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 20:31).

Archeology has its sphere, and it is helpful and useful as long as it remains there.  But where archeology and other disciplines cross their respective boundaries, mischief against God and His Word and His ways more clearly appear, as do those of any who wish to discredit the Scriptures, God, and Christ.


[1] ar·chae·ol·o·gy

/ˌɑrkiˈɒlədʒi/ –noun

1. the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, esp. those that have been excavated.

2. Rare . ancient history; the study of antiquity.(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/archeology)

[2]Robert G. Hoerber (Ed.), Concordia Self-Study Bible, New International Version, (St. Louis: CPH), 83-84.

[3] D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times (New York: Harper Touchbooks, 1958), 28.

[4] “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (1 Timothy 3:16); “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came

by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

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The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – Commentary: Flunking the religious knowledge test

Gene Edward Veith–

“…It is regrettable when people are ignorant about other people’s religion.  But it is even worse when they are ignorant about their own religion.  Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine of Communion become the Body and Blood of Christ.  Only 40 percent of Americans realize that.  But only 55 percent of Roman Catholics are aware that this is what their church teaches, meaning that 45 percent do not!

But the most disturbing news from the Religious Knowledge Survey is how few Christians are aware that Protestants believe that salvation is through faith alone.  Only 16 percent of the general public is aware of that teaching, which is the same percentage (16 percent) of Christians who are aware of that teaching!  Only 9 percent of Catholics realize that Protestants believe that.

It gets worse.  Among Protestants, only 19 percent were aware that Protestants believe that salvation is through faith alone.  That includes 14 percent of the mainliners and 9 percent of black Protestants.  Among Evangelicals, whose name suggests an emphasis on the Gospel, only 28 percent know that Protestants believe in salvation through faith alone, which means that 72 percent do not…”

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – Commentary: Flunking the religious knowledge test.

“Your Redemption is Drawing Near”

In the Nicene Creed, Christians everywhere confess that the Jesus Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” This confession we confess because it is true according to the Holy Scriptures, as heard in today’s Gospel reading. The Lord Jesus will one day return, not in humility as before, being born of the virgin. When He comes again, He will come in glory. Every eye will see Him, the Bible says (Revelation 1:7).

This is good news indeed for all who long to be without sin, for all who desire God’s mercy in Jesus. But for all others, the day of Christ’s return will not be a welcome day. It will be a day of fear and dread. It will be a day of fear and dread because for those who in Christ do not believe, who ignore His calling now to repent and believe the Gospel, they will be called to account. For them, Christ’s return is not for their salvation. It is for their judgment. But for the Christian, for the one who calls upon the Name of the Lord, who seeks God’s favor through the obedience of His Son, Christ comes to bring them to Himself, to take home all who belong to Him…

Lk21.5-36, Pentecost 25, 2010C

Church Professionals Retreat (CPR) & the Word “Meaningful”

The Church Professionals Retreat, or “CPR” is organized every year to provide meaningful worship, growth, and fellowship opportunities for professional church workers in the Lutheran Church– Missouri Synod.

What I find interesting is that word ‘meaningful’ included in the above description (http://churchproretreat.com/index.html).

Why the need for the word, “meaningful”?  Meaningful worship…Meaningful growth…Meaningful fellowship…  Isn’t all truly Christian worship, growth, and fellowship meaningful?

I guess one could argue “no.”  But this begs the question, what is truly Christian worship, growth, and fellowship?  If these are truly Christian, they have to be meaningful, not, however, because everyone defines them as such.

Christian worship is meaningful not because we are giving to God our worship, but because God is giving to us His Word and promise through Jesus Christ.  Christian worship is that which believes God and says “Amen” to His Holy Word, “saying back to God what He has said to us.”  If Christian worship is defined as meaningful because the Christian is defining it to be so, then what of God’s Word being the determining factor in such matters, not the sinner?

The same could be said with reference to “meaningful” growth.  What is the basis for determining whether growth is “meaningful?”  What we get out of it?  What it “does” for us?  How much we grow?  How many grow?  What of sin and repentance?  What of confession and absolution?  What of learning Christ?  What of God’s Word?

Surely, CPR isn’t suggesting that we (and not God) establish the basis for what’s meaningful with regard to worship or growth or fellowship!

With regard to fellowship, how can it not be “meaningful,” as Christians, united in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, come together to receive the Lord’s Supper?  This may not be what CPR is referring to, but in its truest sense, Christian “fellowship” has to do with communing with one at the Lord’s Supper, fellowship with Christ and with members of His body, the church.

Fellowship can and does, of course, have various meanings in the church.  But even here, what is Christian fellowship, even in a nontechnical sense, but Christians being together?  And how can this not be meaningful already?

Review of Josh McDowell’s, “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict”

The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict

A Brief Review

Josh McDowell does a helpful service to Christians everywhere in this updated volume.  In four main parts, 1-The Case for the Bible, 2-The Case for Jesus, 3-The Case for and against Christianity, and 4-Truth or Consequences, McDowell gives compelling evidence for the credibility and the rationality of the Christian faith.  Christians need not be unprepared for giving defense for the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15) with reference to giving answer to the historicity and the logic of the Christian faith.

Christians increasingly recognize the value of Christian apologetics (defending the Christian faith with sound arguments, in distinction from apologizing for it) as a necessary tool for answering questions of both Christians and nonChristians alike.  However, apologetics is only a beginning.

As helpful and necessary as Christian apologetics is, including this work by McDowell, it is not the Gospel.    It is only the Gospel through which God creates saving faith in the heart, not apologetics, nor the will of man, as we shall see (Romans 10:17).[1] The reader is to be aware of this as he begins study of this book.

The reader should also be aware that Josh McDowell comes from a certain Christian background, one quite different from confessional Lutheranism.  As such, he has a different confession concerning faith (what it is) and conversion, Law and Gospel distinctives, and the means of Grace (Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), to name a few.  The following are some of those differences that more readily show themselves…

Speaking about faith and conversion, McDowell writes in the forward, “Not all—not even the majority—of these whom I have spoken accepted Him (Jesus) as their Savior and Lord.  This is not because they were unable to believe—they were simply unwilling to believe” (italics his).

On the same page, he writes, “The majority of people in most cultures do not need to be convinced of His (Jesus’) deity, nor of their need of Him as Savior.  Rather, they need to be told how to receive Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord” (xii).

In saying that the majority of people he has spoken with were unable to believe, McDowell emphasizes man’s willingness or unwillingness to believe.  The how of receiving Jesus as Savior thus becomes a matter of man’s decision rather than the gift of God given through Word and Sacrament (Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).  McDowell supports this testimony by using his father and himself as examples in the section entitled, “He Changed My Life” (see esp. xxv-xxvii).[2]

Christian faith is not of the will.  It is the result of God’s law convincing and convicting of sin, putting the sinner to death as damnable before God; and then the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, giving new life and peace with God (Romans 5:1ff; 8:1ff); and believing the same, saying “for me” Christ died, with confidence according to God’s promise.

Christian faith is not a matter of “making a decision for Christ.”  We cannot! (Genesis 8:21; Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Psalm 14:1; 130:3; Matthew 15:18-19; Romans 3:10, 23; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 Peter 2:9-10).  Faith is the gift of God (Romans 10:17).  Faith takes God at His Word, denies oneself (Matthew 16:21-26), and believes God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:18-20).  Faith does not place any confidence in self, but in Christ alone—in Christ and in His Word and in His Work (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 4:2-25; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

Inherent in such a discussion is the power (the efficacy, effectiveness) of God’s Word.  By placing emphasis on man’s decision and will, McDowell, knowingly or unknowingly, teaches wrongly about the power of God’s Word, not man’s, to change the sinner.  God’s Word will not return to the Lord void (Genesis 1:3ff; Isaiah 55:10-11; John 6:63-69).  It will humble the exalted and exalt the humbled (Luke 18:14).  God’s Word hardens the self-righteous and gives peace to those trusting God’s salvation in Christ.

McDowell also minimizes Christ and His work in converting the soul.  By impressing upon the sinner the need “to choose,” McDowell lessens Christ and praises man’s ability.  This is not an insignificant point!

Closely connected to McDowell’s emphasis on the human will and “making a decision” are the Four Spiritual Laws[3] as described in the last section of the book (p757ff).  With Law Four, McDowell, Campus Crusade for Christ, and all who use such “Laws” place the decision on the sinner, ultimately, for salvation.  If such is not the case, why such an emphasis?  However, it is not the sinner who chooses God, but God who chooses (and desires to save, 1 Timothy 2:4) the sinner (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; John 15:16, 19).  God is the One who seeks (Luke 15).  Only in Christ is salvation certain and secure, not because of one’s decision, but because of Christ!

When McDowell speaks of “receiving” Christ, he means to say, “choosing Christ.”  Grammatically and in common usage, to receive something does not mean to choose it.  “Receiving” is a passive word, whereas “choosing” is an active one.  What McDowell is speaking about is a contradiction in terms.  According to McDowell, prayer is “talking with God.”  This is a correct definition.  Prayer is what the Christian does, having confidence in the Lord that He will hear and answer.

Yet McDowell contradicts himself when he says that prayer is “talking with God,” on the one hand, something in which we are active, and then goes on to say that “we receive Christ,” something in which we are passive, “through prayer.”  Receiving means “to be passive.”  Choosing or deciding means “to be active.”  So which is it?  Is it through what God does that we “receive” Christ, or is it through what we do, through prayer, that Christ becomes our Savior?

According to Holy Scripture, we received Christ through what God does.  See John 1:11-13; 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:1-10, etc. Receiving Christ is only what we passively do.  It is God who gives.  It is we who benefit from His gifts as He gives them to us.  Faith and salvation are not even remotely our work (Ephesians 2:1ff).  Our own decisions or choices before God do not save.  Only Christ does.  McDowell here does not write clearly according to Scripture.

Another area in which the emphasis on man’s will shows itself is in quotes like the following and others like it:

“You can laugh and Christianity.  You can mock and ridicule it.  But it worksIf you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions—Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives.

Christianity is not something to be shoved down your throat or forced upon you.  You have your life to live and I have mine.  All I can do is tell you what I have learned and experienced.  After that, what you do with Christ is your decision.” (xxvii) [Italics mine, for emphasis]

According to the above, McDowell would have the reader believe that he has the ability to decide for or against God.  But the Lord speaks of “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:14), and “being” called children of God (passive; Romans 6:1ff; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 John 3:1[4]; note the verbs).

Christ is not an option (John 3:17-19; 8:23-24, 42-43).  Nor is Christ better than any other.  Rather, He is the Savior; the only One.  There is no other (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

McDowell would also have the reader believe that Christianity is right because it works.  Christianity, however, is right because it is the truth.   Practically speaking, Christians live under the cross.  They live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Therefore, whether Christianity seems to work, or not, Christianity remains true just the same, because it is of God, and Christ is the Church’s Head (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).  McDowell’s testimony is only human testimony.  But God’s Word is God’s testimony and not man’s.  Man’s word will change others little, but God’s Word is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12).

Apart from McDowell’s errors concerning man’s will, faith, conversion, and Scripture, the general content of this book is worthy of study.  If one be able to set aside the former, one will greatly benefit from the latter.  McDowell’s personal doctrinal positions aside, and that of Campus Crusade for Christ, this work is a valuable contribution to the apologetic task (John 5:25).[5]


[1] McDowell also notes that apologetics is ‘not the end’ when he writes, “The presentation of evidence (apologetics) should never be used as a substitute for sharing the Word of God” (xv).

[2] The prayer of McDowell’s father (xxvii, last paragraph of first column) is a clear example, not of faith, but of faithlessness, for the writer of Hebrews writes, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  Also, St. James writes, Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).  That McDowell’s father did not pray in faith is clear from his use of the words “if God can do…,” “If you’re really God,” (implied– “if…Jesus died on the cross) “If Jesus can do…”  The prayer of faith does not pray with such uncertainty and doubt, but with confidence, not because of another’s experience, but because of God’s Word and promise.  See also Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5-6; John 14:1.  Also, note that the father had said, “I want to give God the opportunity.”  Is it we that give God ‘opportunity?’  God, rather, is the one who is, does, and says without our permission.  (Romans 9:14-33)

[3] McDowell’s and Campus Crusade for Christ’s use of Law here is telling.  Essentially, what saves is not the Gospel, but rather, the law.  The “Four Spiritual Laws” are just that—Laws.

[4] We do not become children of God by “decision.”  Nor do “birth” ourselves into the kingdom.  God gives life to that which was dead.

[5] Other works by Josh McDowell include, A Ready Defense and More than a Carpenter.

Donations plummet after appointment of orthodox Catholic priests in Platteville

Donations plummet after appointment of orthodox Catholic priests in Platteville.

What does it mean to be Roman Catholic?  That’s what a number of parishioners, it seems, are finding out.  Changes have been made to various practices within the parish, and though one might question the how and the duration of time for such changes to take place, few who know their Catholic theology could argue with the catholicity of the practices.  Altar boys, no lay communion assistants, preaching the Roman Catholic faith, use of the confessional (Private Reconciliation)…These practices should not surprise members at all.  What is unfortunate is that many appear to have forgotten what Roman Catholicism is and teaches!

I applaud Madison Bishop Morlino for defending the priests.  That more church leaders would do so in antagonistic congregations!

I’m not in agreement with the polity, the doctrine, or a number of the practices of the Roman Catholic church, but it is good to see other churches and leaders standing up and having backbone for what they believe, not giving in to the pressures of society to accommodate and compromise teachings and practices for the sake of acceptance and political correctness, as has happened and is happening within so many church bodies within Christendom.

God have mercy!

Devotion

…and through God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.

Galatians 1:1

Does the Christian need to be afraid, trepid, fearful, or anxious about anything? Not really!

God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. What does this mean? It means that your faith in Christ is not futile. Christ has, indeed, been raised from the dead.

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:14-22).

Your faith not being futile means that your hope is not a ‘what if’ or ‘possibility,’ but a certainty, for it’s grounded in none other than the risen Christ.

All who here speak in uncertain terms, saying that you can’t be sure of God’s favor and forgiveness (or going to heaven) or despise such hope in Christ alone are showing themselves for who they really are—false teachers and not of God.

Christ Jesus is your certainty, in life—and in death. He is your peace with God.

“Of Him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Jesus, too, is your confidence, before God—Yes! And also before one another!

Luther

At the very outset Paul explodes with the entire issue he intends to set forth in this epistle. He refers to the resurrection of Christ, who rose again for our justification (Rom. 4:25). His victory is a victory over the Law, sin, our flesh, the world, the devil, death, hell, and all evils; and this victory of His He has given to us. Even though these tyrants, our enemies, accuse us and terrify us, they cannot drive us into despair or condemn us. For Christ, whom God the Father raised from the dead, is the Victor over them, and He is our righteousness. Therefore “thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Amen (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p22-22).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you raised Your Son from the dead for our justification. Give us confidence in Your promises, that we boldly confess Your Name and rejoice in Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, amen.

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