Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Word became flesh

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, Who is at the Father's side, has made him known."
-John 1:1-18

Sunday, May 25, 2008

5-year-old adopted daughter of award-winning Christian singer died Wednesday


At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close-knit family's six children, and one of their three adopted daughters. More than five years ago, Chapman and his wife MaryBeth founded The Shaohannah's Hope Ministry after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. The ministry's goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to over 1700 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. Chapman is a five-time Grammy Award winner and has sold over 10 million albums and garnered 44 No. 1 singles. He has won more Gospel Music Association Awards than any other artist in history.

"Maria Sue Chapman, adopted and youngest daughter to Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, was killed Wednesday night in a tragic accident in the family driveway on Wednesday evening. She was LifeFlighted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital but for only reasons God can explain she went home to Him... not to Franklin as we all so desperately wanted. Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many. Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman's completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago. These words are unthinkable to type. And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in Him we will see Maria again." - Jim Houser (Manager)


by Steven Curtis Chapman

She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone...

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

News story:,0,2146841.story,0,6846919.story

More about Steven Curtis Chapman:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cartoon showing Mormon doctrine

"Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) and that Jesus is a creation. It teaches that he was begotten in heaven as one of God’s spirit children (See the book Jesus the Christ, by James Talmage, p. 8). This is in strict contrast to the biblical teaching that he is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), eternal (John 1:1, 2, 15), uncreated, yet born on earth (Col. 1:15), and the creator all (John 1:3; Col. 1;16-17). Jesus cannot be both created and not created at the same time. Though Mormonism teaches that Jesus is god in flesh, it teaches that he is "a" god in flesh, one of three gods that comprise the office of the Trinity (Articles of Faith, by Talmage, pp. 35-40). These three gods are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is in direct contradiction of the biblical doctrine that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:5).

Mormon theology teaches that god is only one of countless gods, that he used to be a man on another planet, that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of that god on that world, and that he brought one of his wives to this world with whom he produces spirit children who then inhabit human bodies at birth. The first spirit child to be born was Jesus. Second was Satan, and then we all followed. But the Bible says that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5), that God has eternally been God (Psalm 90:2) -- which means he was never a man on another planet. Since the Bible denies the existence of other gods (and goddesses), the idea that Jesus is the product of a god and goddess couple is rejected.

Mormonism teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross itself (and receiving it by faith) is not sufficient to bring forgiveness of sins. It teaches that the forgiveness of sins is obtained though a cooperative effort with God; that is, we must be good and follow the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church in order to obtain forgiveness. Consider James Talmage, a very important Mormon figure who said, "The sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone has exercised an influence for evil," (Articles, p. 432), and "Hence the justice of the scriptural doctrine that salvation comes to the individual only through obedience," (Articles, p. 81). This contradicts the biblical doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith (Rom. 5:1; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9) and the doctrine that works are not part of our salvation but a result of them (Rom. 4:5, James 2:14-18).

Why is Mormonism a non Christian religion? It is not Christian because it denies that there is only one God, denies the true Gospel, adds works to salvation, denies that Jesus is the uncreated creator, distorts the biblical teaching of the atonement, and undermines the authority and reliability of the Bible.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

-the above text is from:

Thursday, May 22, 2008


"Suetonius was a secretary and historian to Hadrian, Emperor of Rome from 117 to 138 AD. Regarding Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and the Riot of Rome in 49 AD, Suetonius wrote:

As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.

Interestingly, Acts 18:2 relates that Paul met Aquila and his wife Priscilla just after they left Italy because Claudius had expelled them.

Later, Suetonius wrote about the great fire of Rome in 64 AD:

Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.

Mara Bar-Serapion, a stoic philosopher from Syria, wrote this letter to his son from prison sometime after 70 AD:

What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from their executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.

This letter refers to Jesus as being the "wise king." The writer is obviously not a Christian because he places Jesus on an equal level with Socrates and Pythagoras. Without bias in his reference to Jesus and the church, this letter is a valuable historical reference regarding the historicity of Jesus.

Lucian of Samosata was a 2nd century Greek philosopher. This preserved text is obviously satirical, but it's a powerful "extra-biblical source":

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day -- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... You see, these misguided creatures started with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.

This piece is unflattering at best, but it absolutely supports the person of Jesus Christ ("the crucified sage") and the survival of the Christian Church into the second century."


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible in an unlikely place: Jewish Tradition

"Of all the ancient sources for Jesus, the least favorably biased seem to be rabbinic in origin. There are actually a significant number of references to Jesus in the Jewish tradition, but many of them use names like "that man" when they refer to Jesus Christ. Therefore, some of the references are now considered unreliable.

Regardless, in the Babylonian Talmud, the formal commentary on the Jewish Laws compiled between 200-500 AD, there's a powerful reference to Jesus:

It has been taught: On the Eve of the Passover, they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out in front of him, for forty days saying: 'he is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray.' Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the Eve of the Passover.

This is considered to be a very credible reference to Jesus ("Yeshu") from the Jewish tradition. Here, the rabbinical writers verify that Jesus was an historic figure, that he was crucified on the eve of the Passover and that he did miracles, referred to as "sorcery." The events surrounding the life of Jesus were not denied, but definitely verified in the Jewish tradition.

Well, I was looking for unbiased sources, outside the Bible, that speak to the person of Jesus, his death by capital punishment, and the rise of a religion in his name. Remarkably, that's exactly what I got!

The non-Christian historical accounts of Cornelius Tacitus, Flavius Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Mara Bar-Serapion, Lucan of Samosata, and even the writings of the extremely biased Jewish Sanhedrin all vindicate the Biblical accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ in the first century AD.

In addition to the nine New Testament authors who wrote about Jesus in separate accounts, I found at least twenty additional early Christian authors, four heretical writings, and seven non-Christian sources that make explicit mention of Jesus in their writings within 150 years of his life. This amounts to a minimum of 40 authors, all of whom explicitly mention Jesus and the expansion of a spiritual movement in his name. More authors mention Jesus Christ within 150 years of his life than mention the Roman Emperor who reigned during His lifetime. Scholars are only aware of ten sources that mention Emperor Tiberius within 150 years of his life, including Luke, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Paterculus. Thus, within this short time frame, the number of ancient writers who mention Jesus outnumber those who mention the leader of the entire Roman Empire (effectively, the ancient world of the time) by a ratio of 4:1!"


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Famous Martyrs of the First Century

"Here is a list of eye-witness martyrs as compiled from numerous sources outside the Bible, the most-famous of which is Foxes’ Christian Martyrs of the World:

Stephen was preaching the gospel in Jerusalem on the Passover after Christ’s crucifixion. He was cast out of the city and stoned to death. About 2,000 Christians suffered martyrdom during this time (about 34 A.D.).

James, the son of Zebedee and the elder brother of John, was killed when Herod Agrippa arrived as governor of Judea. Many early disciples were martyred under Agrippa’s rule, including Timon and Parmenas (about 44 A.D.).

Philip, a disciple from Bethsaida, in Galilee, suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified (about 54 A.D.).

Matthew, the tax-collector from Nazareth who wrote a gospel in Hebrew, was preaching in Ethiopia when he suffered martyrdom by the sword (about 60 A.D.).

James, the Brother of Jesus, administered the early church in Jerusalem and was the author of a book in the Bible. At the age of 94 he was beat and stoned, and finally had his brains bashed out with a fuller's club.

Matthias was the apostle who filled the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

Andrew, the brother of Peter, preached the gospel throughout Asia. On his arrival at Edessa, he was arrested and crucified on a cross, two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground (thus the term, St. Andrew's Cross).

Mark was converted to Christianity by Peter, and then transcribed Peter’s account of Jesus in his Gospel. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria in front of Serapis, their pagan idol.

Peter was condemned to death and crucified at Rome. Jerome holds that Peter was crucified upside down, at his own request, because he said he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.

Paul suffered in the first persecution under Nero. Because of the converting impact he was having on people in the face of martyrdom, he was led to a private place outside the city where he gave his neck to the sword.

Jude, the brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa in about 72 A.D.

Bartholomew translated the Gospel of Matthew in India. He was cruelly beaten and crucified by idolaters there.

Thomas, called Didymus, preached in Parthia and India. He was thrust through with a spear by pagan priests.

Luke was the author of the Gospel under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries and was supposedly hanged on an olive tree by idolatrous priests in Greece.

Barnabas, of Cyprus, was killed without many known facts about 73 A.D. Simon, surnamed Zelotes, preached in Africa and Britain, where he was crucified in about 74 A.D.

John, the "beloved disciple," was the brother of James. Although he suffered great persecution, including imprisonment where he wrote the book of Revelation, he was the only apostle who escaped a violent death."


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Steve Saint

A couple years ago, I met Steve Saint and Mincaye. Steve is a super-nice and very humble guy. Mincaye constantly had a big smile on his face, and he gave me a big hug (as he was hugging me, I thought to myself, "I'm being hugged by a murderer...a man who has murdered many people by spearing them and/or cutting them up with a machete." Of course, now Mincaye is a born-again Christian, and no longer a murderer.) I bought a copy of "End of the Spear" at one of the tables that was selling them. Steve signed my book, and Mincaye put his inked thumb print on it (since he cannot write or speak English). Then, after driving away, I drove back, wanting to buy a copy for my mom and one for my sister. By the time I got there, they were closing up, and all the books were gone. I found Steve and double-checked with him to make sure there were no more books left, and he said he had a few left in his truck. So I walked with him and Mincaye to Steve's truck, and he gave me two signed copies. I tried to pay him, but he refused payment, and said to consider them his Christmas gift to me (it was Christmas time).

The below video features Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956; and Mincaye, one of the Auca tribesmen who killed the missionaries. The woman in the video is Ginny Saint, Steve's wife.

Nathanael "Nate" Saint (August 30, 1923 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian missionary pilot to Ecuador who, along with four others, was killed while attempting to evangelize the Waodani people through efforts known as Operation Auca.

In September of 1955, after the arrival of teammates Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, and Peter Fleming (Roger Youderian would join them a few months later), Saint found a Huaorani settlement while searching by air. In order to reach the remote tribe, Saint and the team lowered gifts, including machetes and clothing, to the Huaorani in a bucket tied to the plane. The Huaorani were a widely feared tribe, because of their chronic fear and anger. They tended to attack and kill any outsiders without provocation. Nevertheless, the tribe displayed excitement on receiving the gifts, and soon gave back gifts of their own. After three months of successful air contact, the missionaries decided to attempt to meet the people on the ground, and on January 3, 1956, they set up camp four miles from the Auca settlement, using a portion of the beach as a landing strip. Their initial personal contact with the Huaorani started out encouraging; however, on Sunday, January 8, 1956 the entire team was killed on the beach when armed Huaorani met them. Saint's body was found downstream. He was 32 when he died.

Saint and the other four men became famous worldwide as a result. Life Magazine published a 10-page photo essay on the story, which was also covered in Reader's Digest and many other publications. The story is credited with sparking an interest in Christian missions among the youth of their time and is still today to find Christian missionaries working throughout the world who claim to have been inspired by it. Today, a small school for missionary children in Shell, Ecuador bears Nate Saint's name.

Rachel Saint, Nate's sister continued the mission efforts to the Huaorani, which eventually came to fruition.

The son of Nate Saint, Steve, now works with the Huaorani Indians and often travels around the world preaching the gospel, often accompanied by, Mincaye, one of the killers of Palm Beach. In 2005, a documentary based on the story was released entitled "Beyond the Gates of Splendor." The following year, a feature film entitled "End of the Spear" was released on January 20, 2006, a week and a half after the 50 year anniversary of the killings. Saint wrote a book about his experiences, also titled "End of the Spear," to coincide with the release of the film.

Obviously, the willingness of the five missionaries to die for their faith—and to refuse to shoot at their attackers—looms large. Equally as heroic, however, were the actions of these missionaries' wives and relatives, who, according to one interviewee, "were in this thing just as much as the men were." Despite being hesitant to allow her husband to venture into Waodani territory, missionary wife Barbara Youderian says she realized, "I can't keep my husband home just because I have a fear." Another wife, Elisabeth Elliot, joins up with Steve's aunt, Rachel, in staying behind after the killings to forge a lasting relationship with the Waodani. Their efforts ultimately curb the imminent self-extinction of the tribe, as noted by anthropologists and Waodani alike. In fact, one older tribesman says his people "were almost down to two people. ... If [Rachel and Elisabeth] had not come, there would have been no one left."

Prior to their interaction with the missionaries, the Waodani had no method for resolving conflict, which led to numerous unnecessary deaths. Theirs was an individualistic society with no concept of acting for the good of the group. The consistent love—through action—of Rachel Saint and others helped effect change on this social setting, leading to a 90 percent reduction in the Waodani homicide rate in only a few years.

At the core of this transformation, this documentary shows, are the elements of forgiveness and redemption. Rachel, Elisabeth, Barbara and the other families continue to love the very people who murdered their husbands and brothers. Later, Steve follows suit and leaves his life in the United States to return to the Waodani with his entire family. His children end up calling their grandfather's killer, Mincaye, their own grandfather. Steve's sister is even baptized in the same water her father had been killed in—--by two of the men who had killed him. "All I knew was that I really loved these two guys," she says.

Just as Rachel Saint and others helped effect the Waodani's social changes, they also influenced the spiritual culture, inviting the tribesmen to live in the peace, forgiveness, hope and love of Jesus Christ. Though they included a creator God called Waeumi, the Waodani's ancient spiritual beliefs were based around "jumping the great boa." The ultimate test in death that they spent their lives preparing for was to climb a trail upward and jump over the great snake. If they failed, they would fall back to the ground and become termites. Because of this, the Waodani believed life's purpose was to become as strong as possible—--which, in their eyes, included (and somewhat excused) killing each other.

Anthropologists Clayton and Carole Robarchek describe the Waodani as one of the most violent people in human history, and the stories told by several natives undergird this (along with the culture's 60 percent homicide rate). We hear of relatives speared, drowned, cut into pieces or hacked across the neck and face with machetes. A mother is said to have strangled her young daughter so she could be buried with the mother's dying husband (as was the custom).

To convey the notion of God's Word, the Waodani are told that "if they followed His carving while they were alive, then they would find His house when they died." These "carvings" included the instruction to not kill. Dayumae, a native Waodani girl who was taken in by Rachel at an early age, comes back to teach her tribe the Bible on Sundays, which she says is God's day.

Mincaye is the one who murdered Steve's dad, and yet Steve grew up among the Waodani, after his dad was killed. Once the Waodani tribe members became Christians, Mincaye 'adopted' Steve and raised him as his own. Steve considers Mincaye part of his family now. Such is the power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ; not to mention the power of the Holy Spirit to change a primitive tribe of murderers into loving followers of Christ Jesus.

The other man in the video who doesn't say anything is Randy Alcorn, an American Christian author and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to teaching an eternal viewpoint and helping the needy of the world. Eternal Perspective Ministries owns the royalties to his books and 100 percent of them are given away to support missions, famine relief, pro-life work, and other ministries.

For more information, see:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Corrie Ten Boom

Cornelia Johanna Arnolda ten Boom, generally known as Corrie ten Boom, (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983) was a Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor who helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Corrie co-wrote her autobiography, "The Hiding Place," which was later made into a movie of the same name.

She spent time in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Her sister died in that camp. Corrie survived, and years later, she saw one of the Nazi guards who had tortured her and others. He had become a Christian, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness that comes through knowing Jesus Christ, Corrie and her former Nazi guard embraced each other, and she forgave him.

Also see:

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Inquisition

The Inquisition is another thing, besides the Crusades, that some people hold against Christianity. For this reason, I would like to learn more about it. Here is a brief summary from what I have studied so far:

“One of the strengths of the medieval papacy in maintaining its power over the populace of Western Europe was the Inquisition. In the process of development for a couple of centuries, the medieval Inquisition came to its definitive formulation under Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241). The reason for its implementation at that time was the decision of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1232 to issue an edict assigning the apprehension of heretics to state officials.

Gregory feared that Frederick would use this effort for political ends and also did not want to surrender the management of church affairs to the state. As a matter of fact, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 had spelled out aspects of the Inquisition and the church was about ready to proceed on its own anyway.

The Inquisition was designed to inquire into the spread of heresy and to call before its Tribunals Roman Catholics suspected of heresy in order to secure their repentance. The program was launched merely to keep the faithful in line, not to obtain the conversion of Jews and Muslims. The great purges against those peoples in Spain were inventions of the Spanish throne after 1479. The Inquisition was deemed a necessity because of the spread of groups such as the Waldenses and the Cathari or Albigensians, which, if allowed to go unchecked, threatened the very life of the papacy.

Generally, the Dominicans or Franciscans were in charge of Inquisitorial activities. Trials were held in secret. There was no way of obtaining meaningful legal defense, because any lawyer representing an accused person would himself become the target of church tribunals. Confessions might be extracted by torture, and testimony against the accused might be obtained from witnesses by the same means.

Those who confessed and were reconciled were subjected to various punishments, including penances, pilgrimages, scourgings, or fines. Those who refused to recant commonly had their property confiscated, were imprisoned, or handed over to the secular authorities to be executed, usually by burning. The excesses of the Inquisition (sometimes called “an engine of iniquity’), its violation of human rights, and in some places its reign of terror, must forever remain as a blot on the history of the Roman church.”

(pp. 68-70, “Exploring Church History,” by Howard F. Vos)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Your choice: to love the things of this world and go to Hell.....or to forsake all and follow Christ and gain eternal life

"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." (Matt. 18:8-9)

Hell is such a terrible place that you should do whatever it takes to make sure you don't go there. Repenting from your sins and following Christ is the only way to avoid Hell. And if following Christ means going against what your family says, or what your friends say, or giving up your favorite sinful practice that you love to do, then its worth it. If it means giving up fame, or giving up riches, or giving up pleasure, its worth it. Even if that thing is something that is as near and dear to you as your right eye is, or if its something as useful as your right hand is to you...if it leads you into sin, then that thing, person, habit, object, or whatever it may be, however dear, you are to part with.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Israel Museum puts Dead Sea scroll on rare display

By MATTI FRIEDMAN Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) — One of the most important Dead Sea scrolls is going on display in Jerusalem this week — more than four decades after it was last seen by the public. The 24-foot scroll with the text of the Bible's Book of Isaiah had been in a dark, temperature-controlled room at the Israel Museum since 1967. It went on display two years earlier, but curators replaced it with a facsimile after noticing new cracks in the calfskin parchment.

The museum decided to put the scroll back on show for three months as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.

The priceless manuscript, written by a Judean scribe around 120 B.C., was in a long glass case Tuesday, its neat rows of Hebrew letters distinct and legible. President Bush, visiting Israel this week for the anniversary celebration, will be one of the first to view it.

The Isaiah manuscript was the only complete biblical book discovered among the Dead Sea scrolls, one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century. The ancient documents, which include fragments of the books of the Old Testament and treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war, have shed important light on Judaism and the origins of Christianity.

The Book of Isaiah is traditionally attributed to a prophet who lived in the 8th century B.C.

In the book, he calls for repentance, warns of impending doom, and — in one of the most famous passages ever written — offers an idyllic vision of the future: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Curator Adolfo Roitman called the Isaiah manuscript the "gem of the Dead Sea scrolls." It is "one of the most important treasures of the Jewish nation, if not the most important," he added.

A far smaller fragment of another Dead Sea scroll will be on display at the Jerusalem convention center where Bush will be speaking along with other dignitaries.

The segment, also rarely shown, contains the text of Psalm 133, which reads: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Crusades

I have some interest in studying about the Crusades, because they are considered to be a black spot on the Church. However, I tend to believe that most of the individuals who participated in the Crusades were likely not true born-again Christians at all. The Crusades were something generated by the Medieval Catholic Church, and I tend to believe that most of them were not a part of the true Body of Christ (i.e., the ‘invisible church’). In fact, the Catholic Church at that time was responsible for martyring some who were, in fact, true followers of Christ. Part of my interest in studying a bit more about the Crusades is to attempt to find out how correct my theory is. The following is a brief, overall review of the Crusades:


In part, the call for a crusade must be viewed as connected with the investiture struggle. At the Council of Clermont in 1095, in the midst of the contest with Henry IV, Urban II proclaimed a Crusade. This was evidently a show of force in his struggle with the emperor. By this means Rome could direct the energies of Europe in a way that would bring her great advantages.

Although many went on the Crusades for economic reasons, or for adventure, or for other lesser reasons, the primary and official motive of the Crusades was religious. In fact Urban promised remission of sins to those who marched under the banner of the cross.

The event that sparked the Crusades was the advance of the Seljuk Turks in the East and the call for help from the Byzantine emperor Alexis I. Tales of the sufferings pilgrims endured at the hands of the Turks in the Holy Land provided emotional appeal for many to engage in holy war. And, in fact, Urban’s professed goal was to deliver the shrines of the Holy Land from Muslim control and return them to Christian supervision.

In response to Urban’s call a great host gathered from Western Europe, especially from France, the Lowlands, and Italy, and finally took Jerusalem in 1099. The Crusaders then set up the kingdom of Jerusalem and a series of Crusader states along the coast of Syria and Palestine.

Estimates of the number participating in this Crusade vary greatly. About 40,000 arrived at Nicaea (northwestern Turkey) in June of 1097; of these less than 5,000 were nobles and knights. The rest were wives, sisters, relatives, friends, retainers, and assortment of pilgrims, and even prostitutes.


The burden of arousing enthusiasm for the Second Crusade (1147) fell on the famous Bernard of Clairvaux. Europeans were concerned with meeting the Muslim threat to the northern borders of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The king of France and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire led the Crusade, but it was completely unsuccessful, leaving Jerusalem in greater danger than before. The crusading movement ground to a standstill until 1187, when Saladin captured Jerusalem and all Christendom was again aroused.


The Third Crusade (1189-1192) is known as the Crusade of the Three Kings: Richard I of England, Philip II of France, and Frederick I of Germany. Frederick drowned on the way to Palestine; Philip stayed in Palestine for only a very short time, leaving Richard to carry on the struggle alone. Although he was unsuccessful in taking Jerusalem, he recovered territory along the coast of Palestine and won permission for pilgrims to enter the Holy City for a few years.

The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 under the leadership of Pope Innocent III. He urged the capture of Egypt as a base of operations against Palestine. When the army gathered, it found itself without sufficient funds to pay for shipping. In return for financial guarantees it agreed with Venice to recapture nearby Zara from the Hungarians. For the same reason, it subsequently decided to support the deposed Byzantine emperor in his bid to regain the throne of the empire. The attack on Byzantium was more fiercely opposed than the Crusaders had expected, however.

The result was a prolonged struggle there, permanent sidetracking of the Crusade, the sacking of Constantinople and destruction of the power of the Eastern empire, and establishment of a Latin kingdom in its place. Innocent was able to have some indirect influence in this Latin kingdom and over the Eastern Orthodox church.

The last Crusade of any significance was the sixth, led by Frederick II of Germany in 1228-1229. By diplomacy he acquired for ten years Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and a corridor connecting Acre and Jerusalem.


The Crusades ended in failure, with Jerusalem falling to the Egyptians in 1244 and remaining in Muslim hands until 1917, when the British General Allenby captured the Holy City from the Turks. Yet it must be said that while the Crusades lasted, the Roman church enjoyed wave after wave of popular enthusiasm in support of her causes.

Moreover, while the church directed the energies of Europeans in fighting an external foe, she provided a safety valve that spared her a great deal of internal stress.

The effects of the Crusades were destined to be mainly political, social, and economic rather than religious. They contributed to the commercial revolution and its accompanying rise of the middle class, the demise of feudalism, and the decline of provincialism in Western Europe. It is hard to measure fully the impact on Western Europe of the travel of hundreds of thousands of people to strange lands where they discovered new foods, new modes of dress, and new ways of doing things. All this ferment also helped to pave the way for the coming of the Renaissance. And since profits from commerce usually do not flow in one direction, rising commercial activity also stimulated a new prosperity in Muslim lands, notably Egypt. Moreover, the Fourth Crusade helped to bring about the fall of the Byzantine Empire.”

(pp. 66-67, “Exploring Church History,” by Howard F. Vos)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Generational curses

Ah, televangelists. They spread the gospel all over the earth via television. Yet, at the same time, they often give a bad name to Christianity, because of things like committing adultery or their extravagant wealth and spending. Unfortunately, and more and more it seems, these are not their only faults. Many of them also teach false doctrines which are not biblical. I could devote an entire blog to this. Yet, my purpose is not to attack other Christians. After all, we are all sinners; therefore, none of us is perfect. In addition, with any person on this earth, I could eventually find something that they believe that I disagree with. But, at the same time, I do want to warn against false doctrine. In this post, I merely want to briefly address one such widespread false doctrine which is extremely common among Christians today (at least, American Christians); and that is, the idea of 'generational curses.' The following quote sums it up nicely, I think:

"Question: "What does the Bible say about breaking generational curses?"

Answer: The Bible mentions “generational curses” in several places (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). It sounds unfair for God to punish children for the sins of their fathers. However, this is looking at it from an earthly perspective. God knows that sin is passed down from one generation to the next. When a father has a sinful lifestyle, his children are likely to have the same sinful lifestyle as well. That is why it is not unjust for God to punish sin to the third or fourth generation – because they are committing the same sins their ancestors did. They are being punished for their own sins, not the sins of their ancestors. The Bible specifically tells us that God does not hold children accountable for the sins of their parents (Deuteronomy 24:16).

There is a trend in the church today to try and blame every sin and problem on some sort of generational curse. This is not Biblical. The cure for generational curses is salvation through Jesus Christ. When we become Christians, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). How can a child of God still be under God’s curse (Romans 8:1)? The cure, then, for a generational curse is faith in Christ and a life consecrated to Him (Romans 12:1-2)."


Sunday, May 11, 2008

"God is love; therefore, He will forgive me."

Many people today, hearing the phrase "God is love" over and over again, have come to believe that God will forgive them, and they will go to Heaven, whether they are a follower of Christ or not. They don't think that God, being a God of love, could punish anyone. Yet, the Bible says that sin will not escape God. God does not ignore sin.

"The LORD replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book." (Exodus 32:33)

"But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23)

"You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you." (Psalm 69:5)

"For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die." (Ezekiel 18:4)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness..." (Romans 1:18)

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:5)

"But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)" (Romans 3:5)

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." (Romans 12:19)

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 5:6)

"Because of these, the wrath of God is coming." (Colossians 3:6)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Get your 'fire insurance' right here!"

"Can't you see what fools we are? We preach a man-made, plastic gospel. We get people to come forward to `the altar' by bringing psychological pressures that have nothing to do with God. We `lead them' in a prayer that they are not yet convinced they need to say. And then to top it all off, we give them `counseling,' telling them it is a sin to doubt that they're really saved!"
- Keith Green

"It is easy to get children to hold up their hands to indicate a decision, but that does not mean they are saved. The Bible says that no one can be saved unless he repents. . . . Repentance is being sorry enough for your sins to want to stop doing them."
- George Eager, Winning Children to Christ

"Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that 'repentance is only a change of mind.' It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one's mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit."
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Royal Saviour

"Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man's sinfulness and guilt, calling on 'all men everywhere to repent,' results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that 'faith without works is dead.'"
- Harry Ironside, Except Ye Repent

"To leave out or minimize repentance, no matter what sort of a faith you preach, is to prepare a generation of professors who are such in name only. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on 25 years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can't put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by 1/2 and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart... . Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate."
- B.H. Carroll, in Repentance and Remission of Sins

"The most prominent evangelist of the mid-19th Century was Charles G. Finney, a Presbyterian who developed the altar call as a device to get decisions in his meetings. Ian Murray, in Revivals and Revivalism, says that Finney "believed that all that was needed for conversion was a resolution signified by standing, kneeling, or coming forward, and because the Holy Spirit always acts when a sinner acts, the public resolution could be treated as `identical with the miraculous inward change of sudden conversion'."

Finney believed that conversions could be obtained by the "use of means" to get people to walk the aisle, and he seemed to get results. But many of his converts fell away soon after making their "decision." One of his ministry associates, in a letter to Finney, stated: "Let us look over the fields where you and I have labored as ministers and what is now their normal state? What was their state within 3 months after we left them? I have visited and revisited many of these fields and groaned in spirit to see the sad, frigid, carnal, and contentious state into which the churches have fallen and fallen very soon after we first departed from among them."

Something was wrong - people were making "decisions," but they were not demonstrating the fruits of salvation. More recently, Roger Schultz, faculty member at Liberty University, reported on a revival meeting he attended: "I recently heard an evangelistic message that raised the bar for gimmickry. The evangelist had a thrilling testimony, one that left me brushing away tears. (But he never used the Bible, which is always a bad sign.) For the invitation, the evangelist insisted that he did not want people to come forward. Rather, he wanted them to make a decision in the 'quietness of their hearts.' Later, he asked all who had made decisions to 'simply stand up.' A little while later, he directed all those who had stood up 'just to come forward.' Had he been consulted about his deceitful methodology, the evangelist would probably argue that he was simply breaking down personal barriers and eliminating silly internal resistance to the gospel. To me, it seemed like a sneaky way of building up to an altar call. The Holy Spirit doesn't need gimmicks."

Observers over the years have noted that Billy Graham, who is considered to be America's premier evangelist, gets a lot of people coming forward in his meetings, but few lasting conversions. Herman Otten, editor of Christian News, stated that "The editor's home congregation participated in the 1957 New York Billy Graham crusade. . . . The editor's home congregation received about 28 [referral cards]. All were visited but none were interested in joining the church. Surveys have shown that Graham's mass crusades have resulted in few ever joining a church."

Christopher Cagan and John Waldrip, after attending Billy Graham's San Diego crusade in 2003, presented a report which determined that "Graham's sermons are an outgrowth of the theology and methods of Charles G. Finney, the 19th Century evangelist who changed the meaning of salvation from Biblical 'conversion' to the empty 'decisionism,' which stopped historical revivals and ultimately helped to empty the churches... . The sad truth is that Graham's message converts an almost infinitesimally small percentage of people who did not already consider themselves Christians before they ever heard him preach. The third awful result of Graham's meetings is that almost no one is added to the churches.... Dr. Robert Ketcham of the GARBC (Regular Baptists) showed from hard-core statistics that only 13 previously unchurched people were added to the churches of San Francisco from a lengthy Billy Graham crusade."

Is there any answer to the dilemma of "conversions" that do not last? One possibility is to examine the techniques of those who have been successful in their soul-winning ministry. One example of success is the Congregational evangelist Asahel Nettleton, who won 30,000 converts during the years 1812-1822. It was estimated that 90% of his converts were still faithful Christians and active church members, 10 or 20 years after their conversion.

What was Nettleton's secret? According to Sam Horn of Northland Baptist Bible College, "His meek and quiet spirit, his utter dependence on God for results, and his rejection of man-induced means were in stark contrast to the ministry of other evangelists such as Finney who were gaining a reputation and a following by introducing new methods for bringing revival to a church or community....

"His belief that revival was a God-centered sovereign intervention of the Holy Spirit apart from the methods and machinations of men was diametrically opposed to the new thinking represented by Finney."

Asahel Nettleton was a Calvinist who never gave invitations or conducted altar calls in his meetings. (This is not to say that we must adopt these convictions in full, only that such convictions did not in any way hinder Nettleton's soul-winning ministry. If the power of God is working, it doesn't really matter whether or not an altar call is used).

Of course, any man holding Nettleton's convictions today would be denounced as an infidel and run off from most Baptist associations and churches in America nowadays. (After all, it is a lot easier to go hunting for "heretics" in our midst than to win sinners to the Lord).

We prefer to depend, not on the power and sovereignty of God, but on massive multi-million-dollar "festivals" and media events, our worldly entertainment extravaganzas and minstrel shows, and our psychological manipulation methods to get people to walk the aisle, shake the preacher's hand, mumble a prayer, "say these words after me or just follow along while I pray for you," or "just ask Jesus into your heart," and then we wonder why most of our converts never join the church, and most of those who do join a church turn out to be as mean as the Devil and are interested only in tearing our churches apart."


The Psychological Manipulation of the "Invitation":

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig (Part 1)

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig (Part 2)

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig (Part 3)

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig (Part 4)

The Resurrection of Jesus - Dr William Lane Craig (Part 5)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters foreword

Screwtape to Wormwood Letter 1

Screwtape Letter 2

Screwtape Letter 3

Screwtape to Wormwood, Letter 4

Screwtape to Wormwood Letter 5 on War

Screwtape to Wormwood, Letter 6

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis (parts 25-35)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 25)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 26)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 27)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 28)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 29)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 30)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 31)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 32)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 33)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 34)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 35) Final Part

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis (parts 13-24)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 13)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 14)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 15)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 16)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 17)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 18)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 19)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 20)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 21)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 22)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 23)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 24)

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis (parts 1-12)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 1)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 2)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 3)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 4)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 5)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 6)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 7)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 8)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 9)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 10)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 11)

C.S Lewis - Mere Christianity (Part 12)

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Both our relationship with God and our relationships with people are blocked and marred by sin. God potentially fixed our relationship with Him by sending His Son to die for us. After that, its only a matter of repenting of our sins (i.e., turning away; wanting nothing more to do with it; hating it and being repulsed by it); submitting and surrendering ourself to Him (i.e., turning our life over to other words, dying to self...this begins with coming to Christ in childlike faith, trust and simplicity; humbling ourself before Him; giving ourself fully to Him, as clay gives itself to the potter), and allowing Him to forgive us, through the sacrificial death of His Son, Christ Jesus; and then, walking with Him and getting to know Him better and better in intimate, personal relationship; and serving Him forever. Though we have offended Him, there is no offense on His part, because He is sinless and holy.

However, when it comes to people, both we and other people are sinners, and are imperfect. And both we and other people have caused offenses against each other. So, rather than a sinner being reconciled to a holy God, when it comes to our dealing with other people, its a matter of a sinner being reconciled (or trying to get along with) another sinner. This makes it more difficult for both parties. Fortunately, however, that aforementioned holy God helps us and empowers us to get along with other sinners.

Relationships are everything. In fact, the Ten Commandments are based on relationships.

First, relationship between us and God. Secondly, relationship between us and other people. If we got both of those perfectly right every second of our life (including our thinking, our attitude and our intentions), we would never sin.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bethany Hamilton: the girl who lost her arm to a shark attack

Heart of a Soul Surfer offers a personal perspective into the true story and life of Bethany Hamilton, a promising young surfer who discovers her purpose in life as she overcomes the loss of her arm to a 14-ft tiger shark off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii on October 31, 2003. This faith-based documentary conveys Bethany's heart and tackles the difficult question: Why does God allow bad things to happen in our lives? Dealing with topics from self-consciousness and courage to faith in God, Heart of a Soul Surfer presents a good message in a fun, exciting way; told from the heart of a young woman with great passion and dedication to God.

Bethany Hamilton, the young teenage girl who made headlines for swiftly resuming her amateur surfing career after losing an arm in a 2003 shark attack in the waters off Hawaii, shares her story to hundreds of teens.The Christian teen was just 13 years old when the 14-foot tiger shark attacked her on the North Shore of Kauai. The shark also took a 16-inch bite out of her surfboard. But she didn't lose her faith in Jesus. She surfed again three weeks after her attack and is competing again.

Bethany Hamilton, world-renown for surfing (top ten Women's surfing) and her shark attack, shares wisdom and advice with the Class of '08 through ConGRADulations! The Music CD, The Media DVD, and The Gift Devotional Book- with over 1 million given to graduates, it is the #1 Grad gift of the decade!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Check out these other blog sites

Here are some cool blog sites to visit:

Please check out my friend Russ' blog site. He blends
humor and theology on his site. He's a great guy, and,
like me, enjoys martial arts:

Next is Dan Lacey's site. He is the creator of FaithMouse.
I met him online several months ago on a Christian Forums
site. He's a great guy. He is Catholic, and I am Protestant,
but those differences don't stand in the way of my respect for
him, and the fact that I consider him a friend (even though I
haven't corresponded with him in months):

I don't know this lady, but her posts really seem to glorify the Lord:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Art

I didn't post anything yesterday, because I had the worst stomach virus that I've had probably since I was a child. I'm still feeling lousy, but much better than I did yesterday.

Monday and Tuesday I posted revisions of the two magazine covers I did. They actually had me do one more revision of one of them on Tuesday, which ended up like this:

They did a silly little video, which shows my cover illustration very briefly at the beginning, then more completely towards the end. Here's that silly video:

(That video comes from:

In addition, I did this little banner as well (I drew the gavel in Illustrator and put it all together in Photoshop), which can be seen at

Some Christians, afraid of creating graven images, have steered clear of artistic creativity. However, the Bible offers a robust affirmation of the arts. In fact, the Old Testament even lists certain individuals to whom God gave specific artistic talents in order to build the tabernacle. The human impulse to create reflects our being created in the image of a Creator God.

Because human beings are made in the image of God, we not only love and feel emotion, but we also have the capacity to create. People all over the world, in every culture, produce art. Creativity is intrinsic to our humanness. (Note that, though the Old Testament forbids the making of "graven images" to use for idolatry, it does give instruction for the use of art and craftsmanship toward the true worship of God; i.e., Exodus 20:4; Exodus 25:18; 2 Chronicles 3:6,7; etc).

"The nature of art

There are, I believe, three basic possibilities concerning the nature of a work of art. The first view is the relatively modern view of art for art's sake. This is the notion that art is just there and that's all there is to it. You can't talk about a message in it, you can't analyze it, it doesn't say anything. This view is, I think, quite misguided. For one thing, no great artist functions on the level of art for art's sake alone. Think for example of the high Renaissance, beginning with Cimabue (c.1240-1302) and leading up to Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Leonardo (1452-1519). All these artists worked from one of two viewpoints, and sometimes there was a confusion between the two. They worked either from their notion of Christianity or from a Renaissance form of humanism. Florence, for example, where so many excellent works of art were produced was a centre for the study of Neoplatonism. Some of the artists studied under Ficino (1433-99), perhaps the greatest of neoplatonists and influential throughout Europe. These artists showed their point of view in their art.

The second view is that art is only an embodiment of a message, a vehicle for the propagation of a particular message about the world or the artist or human beings or whatever. This view has been held by both Christians as well as non-Christians, the difference between the two versions being the nature of the message which the art embodies. But this view reduces the art to merely an intellectual statement and the work of art as a work of art disappears.

The third basic notion of the nature of art - the one I think is right, the one that produces great art and the possibility of great art - is that the artists make a work of art, and that then the body of his work reflects his world view. No one, for example, who understands Michelangelo or Leonardo can look at their work without understanding something of their respective worldviews. Nonetheless, these artists began by making works of art, and then their worldviews showed through the body of their work.

I emphasize the body of an artist's work because it is impossible for any single painting, for example, to reflect the totality of an artist's view of reality. But when we see a collection of an artist's paintings or a series of a poet's poems or a number of a novelist's novels, both the outline and some of the details of the artist's conception of life shine through."