Monday, July 12, 2010

Is the Bible True? Proving the credibility of the Word of God through archeology


I firmly believe that the Bible is the eternal, infallible, inspired word of God. I don’t believe that there is a single error contained on any of its pages, and as a Christian, this is a matter of faith. The Bible claims to be the very words of God (II Timothy 3:16), so I believe that it is.

But to say that I believe the Bible is true because the Bible says it is may sound like circular logic. This might seem like a politician saying that we can trust him because he has never lied to the people; it is ultimately still a matter of faith.

And that is a good thing. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God if we don’t have faith, and Jesus Himself said to Thomas, “You believe in the Resurrection because you have seen me, but blessed are the ones that have not seen me and still believe (paraphrase of John 20:29).”

So faith certainly plays a big role in our spiritual walk, but our faith only goes so far with an agnostic or a spiritual skeptic. What do we do when these people have genuine questions but are not yet prepared to put their faith in the Bible? If they ask us, for example, to prove that God created this world, and all we can tell them is that the Bible says He did, what do we do if they say, “How do you know the Bible is true?”

After all, when a scientist lists pages and pages of data about Carbon 14 dating, fossils, and missing links, we may sound a little naïve by only being able to say that the Bible says so.

So without downplaying the importance of faith, here are six simple findings from archeology that help to affirm the validity of the Bible.

#1. Noah’s Ark. Yes, the actual ark from the story of Noah (Genesis 6-8) has been reportedly discovered. In fact, all you have to do is go to Google images and type in “Noah’s ark found” and you will find thousands of images of the ark. Now there is still a little debate on this topic, as several people have found fragments of what appears to be wooden structures, but one, at the top of Mount Ararat, matches the biblical description in its dimensions. Oh yeah, the Bible also says that the ark came to a rest at the top of Mount Ararat. Check out this story: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/27/noahs-ark-found-turkey-ararat/

#2. The Hittites. Throughout the Old Testament the Hittites are listed with many of the other “ites.” They are mentioned as early as Genesis 15:20, and there are at least 21 other references to this people group. For years critics of the Bible have scoffed at these references since there is no known record of their existence. In fact, it wasn’t until 2006 that there was ever a shred of evidence confirming their existence. A recent archeological dig has unearthed a tablet where Ramses the Great bragged about his army defeating the Hittites. This might not seem like a big deal, but if the Bible is wrong about the existence of these people, then doubt would be cast on all of its pages, especially the ones that contain the teachings of Jesus. Discover the Hittites for yourself here: http://www.prevailmagazine.org/how-archaeology-proves-the-bible/

#3. The city of Ur. The Bible records that Abraham was from the land of Ur, but just like with the Hittites, the city of Ur had long been unfounded by historians. That is until the discovery of not only a tablet mentioning the city’s name, but also the genealogy of Abraham was discovered. The genealogy matches the list recorded in Genesis 11:18-26. Read the story at this website: http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/archeology.htm

#4. The Pool of Siloam. One of the most random and humorous accounts in the recorded life of Jesus takes place near the Pool of Siloam. In John 9:1-7 Jesus gives sight to the blind man by spitting in the dirt, making mud, and telling him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. As soon he did the blind man received his sight. The only problem with this story is that the Pool had continually evaded excavators. But a recent finding has uncovered this very Pool where this remarkable miracle occurred. Like with Noah’s ark, you can find pictures at Google images, and you can read it for yourself here: http://www.s8int.com/page34.html

#5. The Library of Nineveh. The city of Nineveh is mentioned several times in the Bible, but it is most famous for being one of the chief cities in the life of Jonah. In that story Jonah finally agrees to go preach the message of salvation there, and the entire city comes to know God. But many critics have accused this of just being a biblical fish tale because there is no record of the existence of that old city. They are singing a different tune now after the discovery of the Library of Nineveh. This is not a library with selves of books, but rather a collection of tablets that all deal with the city of Nineveh. Among the chronicles in this library is a tablet that refers to the city’s founder as Nimrod. Aside from being an awesome name, biblical scholars know that Genesis 10:10-11 cite Nimrod’s family as settling Nineveh. Don’t take my word for it, read it here: http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/archeology.htm

#6. The Walls of Jericho. Someone recently told me that there was no way I could prove the Bible; he said, “How can anyone ever prove the walls of Jericho?” That seemingly random challenge was a quick backfire. The walls of Jericho refers to the large walls that surrounded the ancient city, and that were utterly destroyed by the rag tag bunch of Israelite soldiers. God told them to march around the wall, then blow their trumpets, and the walls would fall. They were then to take the city, but the spoil belonged to the Lord. That was a significant command because in those days a soldier’s pay was the spoil; he would take clothes, food, money, or anything else he wanted after they took the city.

Archeology has revealed that the large walls that once surrounded the city did fall inward all the way around, as if an earthquake caused them to all fall at once, but that is not the best part. Other discoveries have shown that the city was relatively well preserved; money has been discovered there, as well as sealed jars that once contained grain, and there are remnants of other types of valuables. If there were an earthquake or if any army invaded, everything would have been taken. Unless, of course, that the God of the army told them not to take the spoil (Joshua 6). Look up pictures on Google images and read about the discoveries at http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v21/i2/jericho.asp

These have only been six simple findings to help prove the validity of the Bible. There are scores of other things that can be listed, like goblets with King David’s name inscribed, for example. The Bible contains literally thousands of names, dates, cities, rulers, and genealogies that could be used to discredit it, but instead, they continually affirm what the Bible says. There still has not been a single one of these things ever proven to be false, which certainly cannot be said of the Koran, which contains more errors than my 9th grade algebra homework.

All of these validated cities and names aid in giving the Bible credibility. If the Bible is wrong about the existence of the city of Ur, then the crucifixion account may be wrong. But if it is right about thousands of details, while batting 1.000, then it is much easier for a skeptic to believe the account of the crucifixion.

Archeology has helped us confirm many of the claims of the Bible, including the Bible’s own claim to be true.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Can We Be Americans And Christians? (Tony Campolo Exposed)

This past weekend our nation celebrated the anniversary of her independence. The 4th of July is always a day with with fireworks, cooking out, and patriotism with the red, white, and blue. But this year on Independence Day I came across some writings that troubled me. I was doing some research for a future blog (which I decided to put off until next time) when I came across some things written by Tony Campolo.

If you are not familiar with Campolo, he claims to be a Christian, and yet he is in favor of keeping abortion legal, gay rights, and he does not believe in the Genesis creation account. In his book Red Letter Christians he blasts the “moral majority” for trying to influence Christians to vote based on their morality, and in turn, he urges Christians to vote based on his warped version of Christianity. In his book Partly Right he goes on a diatribe about how all people are divine from birth, but aside from teaching Christians to vote based on unchristian principles and teaching that we are all gods, Campolo has also made a name for himself with his teachings about God’s Kingdom.

He believes that we are presently living in Jesus’ Kingdom. Since that belief shapes part of his worldview, it is easy to see how that has led him down the road to putting an over-emphasis on his social agenda. Living presently in God’s Kingdom has become a major part of his speaking and writing.

Specifically, in his book The Kingdom of God is a Party, he states that we are all living in God’s Kingdom, and God’s main objectives are having a ball and taking care of creation. This is why the followers of Campolo’s theology put all of their time and resources into fighting poverty and saving the planet.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that some green initiatives are okay, as long as we don’t go off the deep end and make it a religion, as too many have done. Also, helping the poor is both good and biblical. However, these two things were not found in the Great Commission; instead, we are told to evangelize and to pull as many as we can out of the fire. Jesus said we would always have the poor with us (Mark 14:7), so we need to realize that we won’t end poverty. We should help those whom we can, but our higher calling is to reach the lost (Matthew 28:19-20).

On pages 43-44 of The Kingdom of God is a Party, Compolo makes the case that some people can’t enjoy this kingdom and have a party if they are poor inner city children, Palestinians who were kicked out of “their” land, or Catholics who are oppressed by a Protestant majority.

First of all, that paragraph is in keeping with his elevation of Catholics (which has been a part of his ministry for a quarter century) and his ant-Semitism.

But secondly, it shows that he is missing the point. Jesus didn’t come die on a cross so that we can party on earth; we are strangers and pilgrims passing through this land, and as Christians, we have heaven to look forward to. Campolo says we need to do whatever we can do to give those who are oppressed something to party about. You want them to celebrate? Teach them about Jesus and show them how they can be saved!

This life is not a party; Jesus didn’t call us to happiness, but to holiness.

Campolo further shows his poor Bible study tactics by committing an entire chapter to showing that God wants us to give a tenth of our money to partying. He cites Deuteronomy 14:22-29, and then he applies that Old Covenant ceremony to us today. He continues this Bible study method by quoting Jesus out of context: “The kingdom of heaven is a wedding feast.” Jesus was actually beginning a parable about heaven, and Campolo failed to realize that Jesus was making a larger point than saying that heaven or earth is a big party.

When Jesus spoke about the kingdom, He was not telling people to denounce their citizenship and join His kingdom. Campolo fails to understand the difference between a physical and a spiritual kingdom. It is possible to be part of the spiritual kingdom of God and still maintain one’s own citizenship. Consider how Paul appealed to Caesar by invoking his own Roman citizenship (Acts 25:11).

The disciples of Jesus made the same mistake that Campolo made when it came to the kingdom. They, too, thought that Jesus was coming to establish a kingdom right then, and that is what led to all of their problems. The Old Testament contains prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and about the second coming of the Messiah, and the disciples merged those into one event. Therefore, when Jesus came claiming to be the Messiah, they thought He was coming to establish a physical kingdom and free them from the oppression of the Roman government.

Because Jesus didn’t start a kingdom, many Jews rejected Him.

The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus will start a kingdom on earth when He returns. But until that day comes, the kingdom of God is spiritual, something we understand in our minds and hearts. According to Bibleworks, an eminent Greek and Hebrew software, the word kingdom in the New Testament is “not to be confused with a literal kingdom (version 7.0).”

This is not the only time we do this in Christianity. We say that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, but we know that we are not referring to a biological kinship.

Therefore, it is entirely possible for a person to be both Christian and American; that is, their heart and life belong to Christ while they are citizens of a country. To cease to be of nationality because we join the kingdom of God would be like saying “I am no longer Caucasian” or “I am no longer African-American.” It is a part of who we are, not something we must give up or deny.

I Peter 2:17 tells Christians to “honor the king,” while Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 to obey Caesar. There is a biblical precedent to maintain one’s own nationality with respect, even while our hearts belong to God’s Kingdom. One day, in the Millennial Kingdom, we will live in God’s Kingdom.

I also find it ironic that Campolo leads people into his “kingdom now” theology while telling people to vote for his social agenda. If he is part of another kingdom, then he has no business voting in this kingdom. Honestly, I wish he would stop voting in this country anyway; that would be one less vote for abortion/homosexual rights.

I chose to write this blog because it was the 4th of July and I was bothered by the fact that he has led people to stop calling themselves Americans. But his false views about the kingdom are the least of Campolo’s problems. For anyone who buys into the Red Letter Christians concept or the kingdom now concept pushed by Campolo, consider all of these other beliefs that he holds. I believe a person’s ideas should be rejected if they show a pattern of flawed thinking (i.e. Sigmund Freud).

Campolo described his salvation experience in his book Letters to a Young Evangelical. He said that he never had a “conversion experience” like his mother, but instead, he became close to God by reciting Catholic prayers and repeating the name of Jesus as a mantra. Jesus warned against those vain repeated prayers (Matthew 6:7), and Jesus said we must be “born again (John 3:3)." Being born again is a conversion, not a long path of chanting prayers. Is Campolo even saved? Not by his own salvation testimony; so should we really embrace his theology?

Campolo also rejects the idea that the Bible is inerrant. This means that he believes there may be errors in the Bible. In an interview with Shane Claiborne, Campolo described an evangelical this way: “An evangelical is someone who believes the doctrines of the Apostle’s Creed. That outlines exactly what we believe in detail. Secondly, an evangelical has a very high view of scripture, though not necessarily inerrancy (“On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation,” Crosscurrents, Spring 2005, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2096/is_1_55/ai_n13798048).”

In Partly Right, page 99, Campolo indicates that personal experience supersedes what the Bible teaches.

He also believes that a person does not have to be a Christian to go to heaven. In an August 9th, 1999 article in the National Liberty Journal, Campolo said “there may be people who enter the kingdom who did not call themselves Christians.” He made that claim after saying that the “work of Christ on the cross may be broader than some of us think.” On the Charlie Rose Show on October 1st, 1999, Campolo reaffirmed his position by saying “I am not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.”

In a January 27th 2007 article in the Edmonton Journal, Campolo was asked if non-Christians can go to heaven, and after dancing around for a minute, concluded by saying that “we have no way of knowing to whom the grace of God is extended.”

On MSNBC, Campolo told Bill Moyers “I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me as well.” That was his defense on his position of not trying to convert Jews to Christianity (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4117713232348817752).

Then, in a very disturbing interview with Shane Claiborne in 2005, Campolo said these words: “I’ve got to believe that Jesus is the only Savior but being a Christian is not the only way to be saved... Now Muslims do not believe that Jesus died on the cross, but…I do think we have to say is that the grace of God extends way beyond the limitations of my religious group. Our Muslim brothers and sisters can say Islam is the only true faith but we are not convinced that only Muslims enjoy salvation. I contend that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ, but I am not convinced that the grace of God does not go further than the Christian community.”

Claiborne later said that instead of trying to convert Muslims, we should “stop talking with our mouths and cross the chasm between us with our lives. Maybe we will even find a mystical union of the Spirit as Francis [of Assisi] did.” This confirms my theory that Claiborne is just as nutty in his theology as Campolo is.

Campolo then responded by saying “It seems to me that when we listen to the Muslim mystics as they talk about Jesus and their love for Jesus, I must say, it’s a lot closer to New Testament Christianity than a lot of the Christians that I hear. In other words, if we are looking for common ground, can we find it in mystical spirituality, even if we cannot theologically agree? Can we pray together in such a way that we connect with a God that transcends our theological differences?” He made similar claims on pages 149-150 of his book Speaking My Mind.

In his book The God of Intimacy and Action, Campolo says that we should emulate the supersaints of Roman Catholicism (page 9-10). And an article in the Baptist Press from June 27th, 2003, quoted Campolo as branding those of us who agree with the Bible about only men being pastors as being “instruments of the devil.”

Obviously I could go on and on with outrageous beliefs and statements, like when he said that the Harry Potter series was good for children to read, but that pastors needed to preach out against the Left Behind series, but I think that the point has been made. Tony Campolo is a dangerous false prophet.

What are the odds of him being wrong about so many things of theology, and then being right about his kingdom now belief? If he is so wrong about so much, then his minority view about the kingdom should also be rejected. Whenever a pastor claims to have some new insight that people have missed for 2,000 years, beware. Especially if that person has a track record like Campolo’s.


If you still want to believe in Campolo’s theology, that is your right as an American…I mean, as a Kingdom citizen.