links: this went thru my mind

Following are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful.

Archaeology, Israel & Jerusalem: Nose Falls Off the Skull of Gordon’s Calvary

“Visitors to the Garden Tomb of Jerusalem are usually shown the “Skull” identified by Charles Gordon as part of the case that this spot may be the authentic site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. On February 20 the bridge of the skull’s nose collapsed during a storm.”

Churches of Christ & church decline: The 2015 Churches of Christ in the United States

“… the average congregation size has declined … to 124 adherents per congregation. … The Christian Chronicle reports that the same figures reflect a 7.8% decline in membership since 1990, reflecting about 100,443 souls. … The 1990s were a time of plateaued growth … — essentially flat, even though it was a time of rapid population growth. … the rate of decline is accelerating. A lot. … The loss of members, adherents, and congregations is … doubling roughly every 15 to 20 years. … During this same period, the population of the United States has grown … the nation is growing at twice the rate at which the Churches of Christ are declining.”

Distraction, faith & focus: The Wheelchair or the Throne [required reading]

“Our enemy is an expert at distraction. If he can get our eyes off that throne and on the pain and uncertainty of the world, then we are doomed to walk this life in fear and agony. He knows that and he loves every minute of it. … Refuse to focus on what you can see and set your minds on things above. Look away from the evil and drama that saturate our lives and fix your eyes on the King of Glory. Only there will you find healing and hope.”

Documentaries, history, Jesus & media: Finding Jesus: Review of Part One

“… as a docu-drama, I thought this was better than many of them, and I look forward to the remaining five episodes.”

Evangelism, expectations, honesty, hypocrisy, outreach, sensitivity & transparency: Seven Lies Christians Tell [essential reading]

“We mean well, but is the truth really on our lips when we evangelize? … We lie when we claim we are more confident than we really are. … We lie when we claim that unexplainable things are in fact explainable. … We lie when we don’t acknowledge our doubts within the drama of faith. … We lie when we pretend like the Bible doesn’t say some really nasty things when in fact it does. … We lie when we claim we understand other beliefs, faiths and world views. … We lie when we claim that all of our beliefs are a ’10.’ … Finally, and most importantly, we lie (insidious and barbaric lying) when we pretend like we really, really, really love the other person when in fact we don’t.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: February 8-14

Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

February 8

Feb. 8, 1864Abraham Conn (“A.C.”) Huff is born to Thomas Huff and his wife in Hallettsville (Lavaca County), Texas. A.C. will begin preaching at the age of twenty and will continue preaching until the age of 101, for a total of 81 years of ministry. He will die (Dec. 8, 1967) just two months shy of his 104th birthday, having at that time forty-two great-great grandchildren.

February 9

Feb. 9, 1946 – Funeral services are conducted at the Grace Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee for Henry Leo (‘H. Leo’) Boles. Boles – a gg-nephew of ‘Racoon’ John Smith, son of a Union Army veteran, and student of David Lipscomb – had a long-time association as professor and president of David Lipscomb University. Though a well-known preacher and debater, he is probably best remembered today through the influence of his many articles in the Gospel Advocate (for which he served for a number of years as editor), his volumes in the Gospel Advocate New Testament commentary series (Matthew, Luke, and Acts), and a great deal of Bible class curriculum.

February 10

Feb. 10, 1851James Turner & Julia (Sowers) Barclay, along with their two sons (Robert Gutzloff and John Judson) and daughter (Sarah Margaret), arrive in Jerusalem. They are the first foreign missionaries to be sent out from the Stone-Campbell Restoration Heritage and are sent out by the American Christian Missionary Society. They will minister in Jerusalem during two periods of time: 1851-1854 and 1858-1862.

James is a particularly interesting personality. His grandfather, Thomas Barclay, was a close friend of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. James was a physician long before he was a missionary. For a few years early on in their marriage (1830’s), James & Julia owned Thomas Jefferson’s mansion (Monticello) and during that same period in life and for several years thereafter, owned as many as eleven slaves. For a long period in life, James claimed to have read the Bible from cover-to-cover every six weeks. His evangelistic work found little traction among his hearers in Palestine, but once it became known that he was a physician his medical mission work there boomed. While in Jerusalem, James developed a keen interest in the geography and archaeology of the city and assisted the well known archaeologist Edward Robinson. In fact, James was the first non-Muslim to be granted access to the interior of the Dome of the Rock (known by Muslims as ‘The Noble Sanctuary’) in Jerusalem in several centuries. Also during his time in Palestine, James’ eschatological views radically shifted from postmillenial to premillenial. One of his sons (John Judson) married Alexander Campbell’s daughter, Decima Hemans Campbell, in 1863.

Between the drain of the American Civil War on finances, abolitionists’ objections to the Barclay family having been former slave-owners, and James’ switch to a premillenial perspective, the Barclays saw their financial support for the Jerusalem mission dry up and blow away, forcing them to return to the then divided States. James continued to long for a third opportunity to do mission work in Palestine and had a great desire to be buried there, but he died in 1874 with his dreams unfulfilled. His remains are to be found today in “God’s Acre,” the Campbell family cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

Feb. 10, 1874Thomas Wesley (“T.W.”) Brents pens the preface to the first edition of his book entitled The Gospel Plan of Salvation. This book will become essential reading to a great many preachers within the Restoration Heritage during the latter quarter of the 1800’s and the first half of the 1900’s. Accounts are common as to how when preachers traveled and had room to take only one book along with them other than the Bible, they didn’t take a concordance, but took along The Gospel Plan of Salvation. Of greatest significance is the fact that this work discusses salvation solely as a matter of things accomplished in the past; any present or future aspects of salvation are not noted. The consequences of that myopia of perspective not only on the formulation of sermons, but the reception of them, and how salvation is to be rightly viewed, cannot be understated.

[Sidebar: Even in the latter half of the 1970’s when I first mentioned to a preacher the thought of my taking up preaching, Brent’s work was the first suggested to me to own and read.]

February 11

Feb. 11, 1880William Baxter, a native of England, dies at the age of 59. He had come to the States in 1829, was baptized in 1838, and was a co-worker with Walter Scott. A graduate of Bethany College (1845), Baxter went on to become the president (1859) of Arkansas College in Fayetteville, a role that came to an end when the Confederate Army, retreating from the Battle of Pea Ridge, burned the college down (March 1862). Prior to, and during, the Civil War, Baxter was known for his opposition to slavery. Holding those views while living in a state that had seceded from the Union, caused no small amount of trouble for Baxter, but he never wavered from them.

Though having been a preacher, songwriter, and college president, Baxter is best remembered today as having penned (1874) the first in-depth biography of Walter Scott (The Life of Elder Walter Scott: With Sketches of His Fellow-Laborers, William Hayden, Adamson Bentley, John Henry, and Others). Baxter’s body is buried in the Lisbon Cemetery in Lisbon (Columbiana County), Ohio.

February 12

Feb. 12, 1823William Watts is born to William Samuel & Roxanna (Ware) Watts in Pikeville, Kentucky. His family soon moves to Georgia and raises him there, but when he gets out on his own he moves back to West Virginia and works as a school teacher and Baptist minister. During the Civil War, he is a sympathizer of the Confederate cause (he will even name one of his sons “Jefferson Davis”), but because he encounters so many troubles related to his holding such a view in Union West Virginia, he moves to Confederate Virginia. While there in 1865, Watts hears some sermons by a preacher within the Restoration Heritage and, with time, is convicted and submits to baptism by the preacher.

The following year, Watts returns to West Virginia, but since he is now preaching “some new thing,” his reception is mixed. No small number are persuaded by him (including his wife’s family), but many others are not, and he is forced to leave his pulpit in the Baptist Church. With those he has persuaded in the area, he plants a Restoration Heritage church. Watts and the new congregation will face strong opposition, but they experience some growth and at least one other congregation is planted in the county as a result.

Watts will live in poverty the rest of his days. Upon his death in 1879 at the age of fifty-six, his family is so poor they cannot even afford to purchase the necessary cemetery plot in which to bury his body. The Masonic Lodge steps in and donates a plot and gravestone.

William Watts was never well-known outside of his county. He was the recipient of unending, merciless ridicule and mockery by many. Derisive songs were even made up and sung about him. He was hardly even able to provide his family with a means to survive and he died rather early on in life. Still, two of his sons will choose to become preachers.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that this man’s life was anything but unique, for a great many preachers within the Restoration Heritage traveled a very similar path in life. Those of us in this Heritage today stand on his shoulders and those of many others like him. May the memory of such come often, and never cease to humble us.

February 13

Feb. 13, 1843Robert Catlett (“R.C.”) Cave is born to Robert Preston & Sarah Francis (Lindsay) Cave in Orange County, Virginia. R.C., and both of his brothers (Lindsay Wallace and Reuben Lindsay) will all serve in Co. A of the CSA, 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. This regiment is exposed to some of the hardest fighting and bloodiest battles of the war. It is virtually cut in half (losing 111 of the 250 men it fielded) in the Battle of Gaines Mill (June 1862). The 13th VA also suffers significant losses in the battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas (aka: 2nd Bull Run), Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor (fought on the same ground as Gaines Mill), and Cedar Creek. When the South surrenders in April 1865, only ten officers and fifty-two men of the 13th VA are present. Remarkably, although all three Cave brothers are wounded in combat, all three survive the war. All three go on to take up preaching.

R.C. begins preaching in 1867 and will soon come to serve as editor of two departments for J.W. McGarvey’s Apostolic Times. He will eventually take up preaching in 1888 with the Central Church in St. Louis, Missouri, the congregation where J.H. Garrison, editor of the Christian-Evangelist, is a member. Learned, eloquent, and a man of wide-reading, R.C. is well received at first. However, in late 1889, R.C. preaches a series of sermons that explicitly denies all sense of anything miraculous about Scripture and the Christian faith as a whole. The local newspaper, the St. Louis Republic, begins running transcripts of his sermons and these are picked up by the national media. his sermons. Word of the matter, and the resulting shock, runs like electricity through Restoration Heritage churches, as well as other groups, and R.C.’s ministry with Central will come to a swift end. Upon leaving Central, R.C. and a number of other former members, start up the Non-Sectarian Church of St. Louis. In R.C. word’s their rationale is clear:

“We claim that we have freed ourselves from many superstitions and errors still taught by the Church, and planted ourselves on higher ground. We claim that we have come nearer to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus; that we have truer and nobler conceptions of God, and of Christ, and of worship, and of sin and salvation. We claim that instead of weakening moral obligation, we place morality on a more rational and permanent foundation, making it, instead of obedience to the arbitrary will of a supreme ruler whom we must obey to avoid his vengeance, conformity to the eternal law of right which is written in man’s being and in the constitution of the universe, and to which we must conform because it is right, and because conformity to it is necessary to the preservation and development of true, noble, and self-respecting manhood. We claim that, instead of opposing true religion, we have separated the religion of Jesus from the traditions and dogmas and forms imposed upon it …”

R.C.’s views soon evolve into full-blown universalism, taking in all religions as valid expressions of faith. In 1911 he authors a book entitled Defending the Southern Confederacy: The Men in Gray, a work passionate in its quest to justify the Confederacy’s vision and cause. And perhaps most surprisingly of all, in 1917 (six years before his death) R.C. returns to the Restoration Heritage, to the branch now known as Disciples of Christ, and is largely embraced, even though he makes clear he is not changing any of his views.

One of the great challenges in life is in the observation of events to not learn the wrong lesson. Unfortunately, among the most enduring influences of ‘The Cave Affair’ within the Restoration Heritage is that it helped make a case in the minds of many for anti-intellectualism. According to this perspective, wide-reading, higher education, exposure to views other than those you currently hold, and communication with those of other faiths will inevitably lead one astray and are, therefore, ways to be viewed with deep suspicion and avoided.

February 14

Feb. 14, 1862James Madison Pickens, a Christian and aspiring preacher within the Restoration Heritage from Maury County, Tennessee, re-enlists today in the Confederate Army. While serving in Co. B of the CSA, 2nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment (Robinson’s), Private Pickens decides to preach a sermon to his comrades in arms. However, they are not inclined to listen to him at the time and their disinterest rankles Pickens. Finally, ending his sermon in disgust, Pickens exclaims,

“If you fellows don’t want to listen to me, you can just go to hell and be damned!”

Following the war and during the period of Reconstruction, Pickens will continue to preach. He will be the first Restoration preacher to arrive and minister in NW Alabama to re-establish and organize the churches devastated by the war. Soon joining him in this work is T.B. Larimore. Pickens will continue to preach until his untimely death (at the hands of a murderer, over political matters), at the age of forty-four.

links: this went thru my mind

Here are several links I found to be interesting and helpful.

Choices, decisions, discernment, intuition, morality, rationalization & thinking: Your Mind is a Spin Machine

“… usually, the rider is the servant to the elephant.”

Cinema, faith, film, forgiveness, hatred, movies, torture & war: The Power of Forgiveness [essential reading]

“How does a man forgive what is seemingly unforgivable? In search of the answer, I began a seven-year journey through his life, a journey that culminated in my book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.”

Feast of Dedication, Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, Jesus & Jerusalem: * Jesus Visited Jerusalem During Hanukkah; * Hanukkah: When Jesus Claimed to be God

* “The Gospel of John records more visits to Jerusalem by Jesus than any other of the Gospels. John is the only one to record the visit during the Feast of Dedication.”

* “Today, some say Jesus never claimed to be God. But His words during that Hanukkah left little doubt.”

Israel, roads, the ascent to Jerusalem & travel: New Video: The Modern Ascent to Jerusalem

“Bill Schlegel, author of the Satellite Bible Atlas, has just posted a video showing the ascent to Jerusalem from the Shephelah. The 6-minute video uses drone footage to show the modern highway’s route and the new construction. In antiquity, travelers followed the natural routes along the ridges. Today when we deviate from those ridges, we spend billions to destroy the landscape in the construction of passes, bridges, and tunnels.”

Prison system & teens: End Solitary Confinement for Teenagers

“That the practice is widespread remains a disturbing indicator of how poorly we treat the hundreds of thousands of minors arrested each year in the United States.”

links to the land

 

Bethsaida: A Bethsaida Lesson—Jesus Wants to Teach You Much More [required reading]

“For the faithful follower of Jesus, there is another danger beyond complacency. … We limit our understanding of Jesus when we require Him to act within the limitations of our understanding. … To deepen your understanding of Jesus, set your mind on God’s interests above your own.”

Golan Heights: Golan Heights Tour

“The Golan Heights, Israel’s mountainous north-eastern region, is one of the most beautiful areas of the country.”

Tel Al-Elealeh: The Moabite city of Elealeh

“After the Israelites occupied the area the city was given to the tribe of Reuben as part of their territory (Numbers 32:3, 37).”

Temple Mount: The Most Contested Real Estate on Earth? [essential reading; outstanding diagram!]

“Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. Jews and Christians call it the Temple Mount. Built atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, this 36-acre site is the place where seminal events in Islam, Judaism and Christianity are said to have taken place, and it has been a flash point of conflict for millenniums.”

links to the land

 

Caesarea Philippi: Jesus’ Promise at Caesarea Philippi

“The text does not specify that Jesus entered Caesarea Philippi, but that He came to the ‘region’ (NKJV), ‘district’ (NASB), ‘the area of’ (NET) Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13).”

Corinth: The Meat Market at Corinth

“‘Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.’ (1 Corinthians 10:25 ESV) The Greek word used here for ‘meat market’ is makellon. Archaeological discoveries at Corinth include inscriptions mentioning the meat market and the fish market.”

Hebrew manuscripts: The Aleppo Codex

“The oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible in existence is brought to you for the first time online. … The manuscript known as the Keter or ‘crown’ of Aleppo is the oldest existent manuscript known to us …”

Jerusalem: The Burnt House, Jerusalem

“… The Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. … I don’t think it makes it onto the itinerary of many tours to the Holy Land so it qualifies as ‘obscure.’ This is a site that dates back to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the first century.”

Nazareth: The Quest for the Historical Nazareth

“In the case of first-century Nazareth, religious scholars tend to talk up the size of Nazareth, while skeptics tend to question whether Nazareth even existed at the time. …  ‘Nazareth’ occurs 29 times in the Bible, all of them in the NT. Nazareth is never mentioned in the Tanakh or in any other Jewish writings of the period. … There are no references to Nazareth in the Apostolic Fathers, and just handful of references in Christian texts from the second half of the second century CE. …

“Nazareth probably did not have a synagogue in the first two decades of the first century. In the time of Jesus the population may have been fewer than 300 persons, and we might imagine that the majority of them would have been children.”

links to the land

 

Archaeology & the Bible: Has Archaeology Gone Overboard in Throwing Out the Bible? [required reading]

“When we learn to read (excavate!) the text geographically, historically, and archaeologically, the Bible has much to contribute to the archaeological process. Reciprocally, archaeology has a great deal to contribute to our understanding of biblical texts.”

Bronze Age: Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought [required reading]

“… what caused the Bronze Age collapse? Scholars have proposed a combination of factors including marauding Sea Peoples, plagues and earthquakes leading to a so-called ‘systems collapse,’ in which complex societal networks broke down under mounting interregional economic or demographic pressures. … A recent study of pollen grains in sediment cores beneath the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea provides a new view …”

Corinth: The Erastus Inscription at Corinth

“Paul calls attention to a person named Erastus who was a ‘city treasurer.’ He would be one of the few (‘not many’) Christians who were among the socially elite at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:26). … It is of interest that during the 1929 archaeological excavation of the area near the theater, a plaza was located that contained a stone inscription bearing the name of Erastus and indicating that he was a public official.”

Crusades: What Were the Crusades and How Did They Impact Jerusalem?

“What were the Crusades, really? In truth … Crusades history has acquired a bit of a romantic glow in our modern times, a glow that is far from the gritty, bloody reality.”

David & Tel Dan: The Tel Dan Inscription: The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible

“What made the Tel Dan inscription one of the most exciting Biblical archaeology discoveries for scholars and the broader public was its unprecedented reference to the ‘House of David.’ The stela’s fragmented inscription … proved that King David from the Bible was a genuine historical figure and not simply the fantastic literary creation of later Biblical writers and editors. Perhaps more important, the stela, set up by one of ancient Israel’s fiercest enemies more than a century after David’s death, still recognized David as the founder of the kingdom of Judah.”

Jehoash Tablet: * Jehoash Tablet Released, Golan Partially Vindicated; * Jehoash Tablet Must Be Returned to Owner

* “It remains to be seen what will happen to Golan’s claim to the James ossuary, but this is a partial victory for his claims.”

* “Like the James Ossuary, we will probably never know if this document is authentic.”

Kedesh in Galilee: Picture of the Week: Kedesh in Galilee

“Our first stop is the ancient city of ‘Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali’ (Joshua 20:7). This site is located just west of the Huleh Basin, in the region north of the Sea of Galilee.”

Shephelah: Are You Guarding Your Shephelah? [essential reading]

“Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the ‘Shephelah.’ The hills of the Shephelah were a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier. You have a Shephelah in your life as well. Here’s a lesson on how you can guard it.”