Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Volunteers Wanted to Transcribe 'Lost Gospels'

Published July 26, 2011

OXFORD, England – Thousands of volunteers are needed to help transcribe two million segments of ancient Greek writings in a bid to find the next "lost gospel," researchers at the University of Oxford said. Some 200,000 segments of the ancient papyri, found in Egypt, were uploaded to the website -- and now volunteers are needed to transcribe the Greek letters using character-recognition tools. Researchers from the project already discovered previously-unknown "gospels," including stories about Jesus casting out demons that were written in the third century. But now the project is looking for people across the world -- who are not required to read classical Greek -- to help translate the ancient documents because the task is too big for the research team. The software allows people to match Greek letters with the symbols on the papyri, then translates the words and stores them on a searchable database. The scripts include a range of bills, receipts, letters and other everyday documents, but researchers believe they also could contain more stories about Jesus. The papyri were part of a haul discovered in the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus early last century and date from between 500 BC to 1,000 AD. They were written in Greek when Egypt was under the control of the Greeks and Romans. Previous interesting finds among the scripts included plays by Sophocles.

Read more:

Tomb of Phillip the Apostle Found in Turkey

HIERAPOLIS, Turkey – A tomb believed to be that of St. Philip the Apostle was unearthed during excavations in the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis. Italian professor Francesco D'Andria said archeologists found the tomb of the biblical figure -- one of the 12 original disciples of Jesus -- while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday. "We have been looking for Saint Philip's tomb for years," d'Andria told the agency. "We finally found it in the ruins of a church which we excavated a month ago." The structure of the tomb and the writings on the wall proved it belonged to St. Philip, he added. The professor said the archaeologists worked for years to find the tomb and he expected it to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination. St. Philip, recognized as one of Christianity's martyrs, is thought to have died in Hierapolis, in the southwest province of Denizli, in around 80AD. It is believed he was crucified upside down or beheaded. Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city," is an ancient city famous for its hot springs and a spa since the 2nd century. The Turkish news agency notes a wealth of current archaeology projects underway in the country, which has seen a potpourri of cultures over the centuries: Assyrians, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantinians, Ottomans and more.

Read more:




"Impact" segment tonight: mass murder in Norway. A vicious killer, Anders Breivik, has murdered at least 76 people in the Scandinavian nation of Norway. Breivik is a brutal fanatic who apparently objects to the presence of Muslims in Europe. Last Friday he bombed buildings in Oslo and then took an automatic weapon to an island a few miles away gunning down 68 people. Norwegian authorities couldn't get to the island because they didn't have a helicopter, if you can believe it. Now, on Sunday, the "New York Times" headlined "As Horrors Emerged, Norway Charges Christian extremist". A number of other news organizations like the "LA Times" and Reuters also played up the Christian angle. But Breivik is not a Christian. That's impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith. Also Breivik is not attached to any church, and in fact has criticized the Protestant belief system in general. The Christian angle came from a Norwegian policeman not from any fact finding. Once again, we can find no evidence, none, that this killer practiced Christianity in any way. So why is the angle being played up? Two reasons: First, the liberal media wants to make an equivalency between the actions of Breivik and the Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh and al Qaeda. The left wants you to believe that fundamentalists Christians are a threat just like crazy jihadists are. In fact, in the "New York Times" today an analysis piece says that some believe we have overreacted to the Muslim threat in the world. Of course, that's absurd. Jihadists have killed tens of thousands of people all over the world. The Taliban, Iran and elements in Pakistan use governmental power to support terrorism by Muslims. But the left-wing press wants to compare nuts like Breivik and McVeigh to state-sponsored terrorism and worldwide jihad. Again, dishonest and insane. The second reason the liberal media is pushing the Christian angle is they don't like Christians very much because we are too judgmental. Many Christians oppose abortion. Gay marriage and legalized narcotics, secular left causes. The media understands the opposition is often based on religion. So they want to diminish Christianity and highlighting so-called Christian-based terror is a way to do that. The primary threat to this world comes from Islamic terrorism. Iran is a major problem. If the country gets nuclear weapons and it's desperately trying to, does anyone doubt those weapons could be used? A Muslim in Pakistan exported nuclear technology to North Korea. And Muslim suicide bombers blow innocent people up almost every day. Yet, once again the liberal media wants you to fear Christian terrorists. And going forward when jihad is mentioned, you know Breivik and McVeigh will enter the conversation. Sometimes I think the world is going mad. This Breivik guy is a loon, a mass murderer who apparently acted out of rank hatred. No government supported him. No self-proclaimed terror group like al Qaeda paid his bills. Breivik is just another loser who caused tremendous horror by murdering innocent people. There is no equivalency to jihad. No worldwide Breivik movement. Just another violent pathetic legacy stemming back to Cain.

Read more:



Hebraic "Cyclical Thinking"

Certain Messianic teachings (such as Bill Cloud) are attacking "Western Linear Thinking" and are becoming evangelists for a supposedly "Hebraic/Eastern" "Cyclical thinking."

To illustrate that the Jews "thought cyclically" Mr. Cloud and his associates point to annual holidays and the agricultural cycle. Until recently, America was an agricultural society. Do farmers think is a "cyclical" mindset? Did Americans before the Industrial Revolution? Practically every culture has annual holidays-that doesn't mean that all cultures that celebrate an annual holiday (such as the 4th of July or Christmas) think cyclically. After all, everyone has a birthday every year-does that mean people think cyclically?

One book in the Bible does have a vicious cycle-Judges. In that book the vicious cycle is not presented as a good thing. The people sinned, faced judgment, cried for deliverance, God sent a deliverer and they soon thereafter slid back into sin. In their history the Israelites had significant events that profoundly effected their history and were never to be repeated again (as they would if the Israelites believed in a cyclical history). These events were-the giving of the Law and the making of the Covenant at Sinai, their deliverance from Egypt-which they were never to repeat-but which they were to forever remember where they came from, the choosing of King David and the consecration of Jerusalem as the Holy Place. These were unique events-not events to be repeated again and again in a cycle.

If the Jews don't think cyclically-then who does? Pagans do! Especially Hindus and Buddhists. (And perhaps this mentality is part of the reason why these countries are generally backwards when compared to the west. Westerns and Jews believe in linear history and thus in progress. Eastern societies believe in cyclical history-no progress and so they see no impetus to develop. So, we see that this is a destructive and harmful philosophy and a pagan one at that-so no spiritual person should be advocating it. I once talked to a Hindu about a Hindu myth that I didn't like called the "Ramayana." (I did enjoy reading the Epic Maharbharata.) He believed it was literally true. I found it preposterous with it's monkey-people and bird-people. He conceded that the events didn't occur in our time but in a pervious cycle of life on earth. Buddhist do want to escape the vicious cycle of reincarnation-in fact that was the goal of the Buddha. Life is seen as a vicious cycle. Buddha wanted to escape the cycle through enlightenment. The way to escape is to achieve Nirvana-non-existence and cessation of being. So, Easterners reject the idea of progress and we see that cyclical thinking is pagan and not biblical. (It is interesting that these evangelists advocate the Cycle-while the greatest thinkers of the East are trying to escape it.)

WHERE IN THE BIBLE IS CYCLICAL THINKING TAUGHT? Perhaps Ecclesiastes, in which the author explores carnal thinking. If God put cyclical thinking upon us, he would have said, "I am the Lord thy God who had brought you back to square one-thou shalt engage in cyclical thinking!"

Michael Rood often warns us to leave behind our "Western Greco-Roman mindset" and adopt a "Hebraic" mindset. He doesn't really explain exactly what a "Hebraic Mindset" is but apparently, you can gather from his teachings, that it means keeping all 613 commandments of the law of Moses. Another ironic thing about Michael Rood is that he asserts falsely, using antiquated and discredited research, that Christianity is derived from "Babylonian Religion" which I have studied and he obviously knows nothing of while at the same time he uses astrology-and encourages its use-and astrology is ultimately derived from Babylonian religion (although, it apparently came into its present form in Hellenistic Alexandria). The most ironic thing is that Cyclical thinking is Greek and "Linear thinking" is a contribution of the Hebrews. The eminent archeologist John Romer explores the Jewish development of Linear history in his educational series "Testament" which is now available on DVD. While the Egyptians and other Near Eastern peoples kept annals and made chronicles of their reigns, it seems that the Hebrews were the first people who wrote a linear history of their people-from their origins with Abraham up to their present day. This linear history is called "The Holy Bible." (Egyptian kings would boast of their achievements-but only at the Hellenistic period-after the Bible was written, did an Egyptian attempt to write a history of Egypt.)

So we see that the Jewish contribution is linear thinking-we have records but no history before the Jews invented it. The Scriptures pre-date Herodotus, the Greek "Father" of history. (The Jews beat him to it.) (The Ark of the Covenant was also significant because it represented the presence of God. God had entered human history and was now leading man forward-not in circles. This was a unique history changing event. In fact, God punished people by making them wander for 40 years because of their disobedience. A vicious cycle does not represent God's loving plan for man but rather divine punishment.)

So, we have seasons and agriculture-but everyone does not just the Jews-so dealing with cycles isn't uniquely Jewish. Judaism doesn't teach "Ground-hog Day." (Groundhog day is a Bill Murrey movie in which not only is every day like the other-every day is the same. Like in a "Twilight Zone" episode-Bill Murrey is trapped living the same day-Groundhog day-over and over again until he finally managed to escape.)

Just for sake of argument, let's say that the Jews did have circular reasoning. That doesn't make it right. Our need is to be Born Again and have the Holy Spirit and not a "Hebraic Mindset." Nicodemas had a "Hebraic Mindset" as did the Pharisees who opposed Jesus-that wasn't enough to save them. Jesus didn't say "Go ye into all the world and teach them to have a Hebrew mindset." He told them to preach the Good News of Repentance, forgiveness and salvation. This "Hebrew Mindset" taught by these messianic teachers is a mindset the ancient Hebrews did not have! These ideas of a "cyclical mode of thinking" would have been alien to them. When Assyrian Christian missionaries arrived in the East-they had to deal with Cyclical Thinking-they taught people that Jesus sets you free from the cycle-there is freedom in the Messiah! Praise God! These false ideas brought bondage. We have freedom and progress in the Messianic Era.

The greatest irony here is that not only is "Cyclical thinking" not Jewish, and not only is it pagan-it is Greco-Roman. Empedocles (490-430 BC) believed in a constant cycle (cyclical thinking) of destructive and constructive reincarnation.

It is almost sacrilege that these so-call self-professed "messianic" teachers are introducing error and pagan teachings and deceiving people into thinking these occult thought patterns are "Jewish" and somehow the only proper way to think. These ideas about "Cyclical thinking," "Circular Reasoning," and the Pendelum Theory are all false. (We aren't swinging from left to right-we are swinging farther and farther to the left all the time and towards eventual disaster.)

Cyclical Thinking isn't biblical, Christian, Jewish or spiritual. What I want to do is think coherently and discover truth and walk in the truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thinking in circles is not the path to Revelation-but only to confusion and darkness. (For more see my youtube:

We only kneel to God!
When I was in Syria, I noted a lot of anti-American and anti-Israeli propaganda in the streets. President Assad was fond of saying "We only knell to God!" This means that he wouldn't bow down to America or Israel. (Actually, he does bend down for Iran. Syria, under Assad, is for all intents and purposes a satellite state or colony of Iran.) Now the rallying cry of Syrian protestors is "We Kneel only to God!" They have had enough of kneeling to Assad. I find that ironic.

How to Win the War on Terror

Recently, some positive developments have been made in the war on Islamic terror. We need to expose our enemies (I.E. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and hold them accountable. The most frustrating thing to me since the "War on Terror" has begun was seeing how the United States Government and the Liberal News Media would protect our enemies-Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. No, they are our allies-we were told. It is the "Big Lie." If you repeat it enough times people will start to believe. But now it seems that the Obama administration is tired of playing games with Pakistan. Now, we are exposing them to the world for what they are. (Pakistan-not Saudi Arabia yet.) A rouge terrorist state.

Iran and Al-Qaida are working together-and have been for some time-and one is Shiite and the other is Sunni!

I sincerely believe that Obama is harming the United States and the world. However, I strongly support this new direction the Obama Administration is pursuing in exposing Pakistan's involvement in Islamic terrorism and holding them accountable. This is the only path to victory.

We will never win until we insist on the four principles of moderate Islam. ALL four.

  1. A total renunciation of Jihad. A moderate Muslim will not support religious violence
  2. Sharia law must be merely a personal lifestyle choice. Anyway who tries to impose Sharia law upon others through coercion or legal action-is not a moderate Muslim
  3. A moderate Islam believes that Arab Muslims and non-Arab Muslims should be totally equal. The same goes for all non-Muslims in Muslim majority countries. There should be no discrimination-and all rights and privileges Muslims enjoy will be extended towards and enjoyed by all non-Muslims.
  4. A moderate Muslim will support the right of any Muslim to leave Islam and convert to any belief system he chooses-with no penalty. A moderate Muslim opposes the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

It isn't polite to criticize Islam

When I was in Bethsaida, one of our groups had recently gone to Egypt-despite the recent chaos there. I was having a conversation with one of the professors. I talked to him about my experience among the Copts in Egypt and attempted to discuss the Islamic persecution of Christians in Egypt. He told me that while he was in Egypt, a Coptic Christian assured him that there was no violence against Christians in Egypt, that Christians there are treated very well, and that there had been a few isolated incidents that were exaggerated by the media. First off, the media isn't reporting on the persecution of Christians in Egypt. When I left for Israel, I picked up a Time magazine. (Time magazine and Newsweek are hard left magazines.) I bought it because it featured a story about Christians in Egypt. It focused on the harmonious relationships between Copts and Muslims and about all the love and goodwill Egypt's Muslims have for Copts. Time downplayed anti-Christian violence in Egypt. What media is he talking about? Only the Barnabas Fund, The Assyrian International News Agency ( , and Coptic American groups are publicizing the incidents of violence against Christians. I mentioned perhaps the Copt that he was talking to was fearful of discussing the incidents less retaliation be taken against him. (I gave examples from Darymple's "From the Holy Mountain" and Phillip Sennot's "The Body and the Blood.") When I gave the professor personal accounts and details from my research-he politely excused himself. As far as he is concerned Islam is a religion of peace and no one is going to tell him differently. Plus, we have the new "Chrislam" movement, where so-called "Christians" believe that we should adapt Christian teachings an practice to make them more acceptable to Muslims. So, we see "Christianity Today" carrying a cover story about how we should avoid calling Jesus "The Son of God" because that offends Muslims. The cover of the magazine was in Arabic. Zondervan, a major Christian publishing company, is publishing Islamic propaganda entitled "Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Understanding and Building Relationships" by Carl Medearis. The problem, according to Medearis, isn't with Islam-it is with Christianity and Christians. An we even have the Ted Dekker-a Christian author-writing a book entitled "Tea With Hezbollah." According to Mr. Dekker, we have been treating Islamic murderers all wrong. We need to see how they are right and we are the ones with a problem-according to Mr. Dekker. There is one word to describe what these false Christians are "Judas Iscariot." By aiding terrorist and ignoring the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution-Mr. Dekker and Mr. Medearis have the blood of Christians on their hand. They need to repent for joining the enemies camp and fighting against God's people.

AWOL Soldier Arrested in What Police Say Was New Fort Hood Terror Plot

By Mike Levine and Jennifer Griffin, July 28, 2011,

An Army private has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to attack Fort Hood soldiers that authorities suggest was close to being carried out. The arrest, first reported by Fox News, comes nearly two years after a deadly shooting rampage at the base. Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell in Kentucky, was arrested by the Killeen, Texas, Police Department near Fort Hood and remains in custody at the Killeen jail. Abdo, 21, was found with weapons, explosives and jihadist materials at the time of his arrest, a senior Army source confirms to Fox News. He was arrested at around 2 p.m. Wednesday after someone called authorities to report a suspicious individual. Bob Jenkins, a Fort Campbell spokesman, told Fox News that Abdo was also being investigated for child pornography found on his government computer. Abdo went AWOL on July 4. On the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan -- after only one year in the Army -- Abdo applied for conscientious objector status as a Muslim. It was denied by his superiors at Fort Campbell but later overturned by the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Army review board.

Read more:

Thomas C. Oden writes on non-Western Christianity

He is the editor of the series "Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture" which includes commentary by the Coptic and Syriac Church Fathers. He has also written a Systematic Theology. His other books include:

"How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind"

The African Memory of Mark: Re-accessing Church Tradition

"Early Libyan Christianity: Uncovering a North African Tradition"

Oden is a Methodist and proposes a "paleo-orthodoxy," returning to early Christianity in order to reform the church. I like what he has done. We do need to return to our early roots. Also, I like the fact we have a non-Calvinist (such as myself) doing "systematic theology."

What Stephen is up to…

This has been a busy summer. In June I was participating in an archeological excavation in Bethsaida, Israel. In July I was on military duty for my Annual Training with the National Guard. I will be at Chicago at the end of the month. Hopefully, I will meet with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. I hope to get back to work with a renewed focus on the Assyrian Christians. I also need to start my application process for a doctoral program. Currently, I am leaning towards continuing my education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

My book "The Language of Jesus: Introducing Aramaic" is selling well in print and kindle editions-check it out.

No comments: