Check this out: A retired farmer has spent 30 years building a scale model of Herod's Temple. Detailed pictures and the story are here.
Update: What I find amazing now that things are in much better perspective -- the Temple covered four times the land than Windsor Castle and I've been there -- is that Jesus said that the temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three day. Now I understand that he wasn't referring to the building. But because of this farmer, I can imagine the disbelief of those who stood around and looked at the grand architecture in amazement.
There is the same video on the web with English subtitles, but it has a curse word. So, for you non-French speaking people like me, the video is about a man who starts and ends his day with coffee -- le café. It begins: "To start well my little day and to wake me up, I took a coffee. An arabica, black and strong ...."
heretic - derived from the Greek word αἱρετικός (hairetikos) which means to exercise option in the presence of alternatives.
Several weeks ago, I was told the true story of an overseas trip by college students and professors. They went to Morocco. And, while in Morocco, the college students had an opportunity to attend a question and answer session with a Muslim imam. The subject of religious liberty came up because the Moroccan constitution provides for religious freedom in the nation, but also asserts that Islam is the official religion. The King, according to their constitution, is "Commander of the Faithful" with the responsibility of ensuring "respect for Islam." Converts to Christianity in Morocco are often persecuted by the government because conversion from Islam is a crime under Islamic law, and the people of Morocco make very little distinction between criminal and civil codes and Islamic law. To these college students from America something just didn't add up.
The imam's response was very interesting. He told his visitors that Morocco does have religious liberty, but Islam is the only true religion. Therefore, the people of Morocco are free to practice the one true religion of Islam while the officials protect its citizens from other satanic religions.
At the completion of the first post in what now will be a series, I thought that two follow-up posts would be necessary. The first was to be a post that was more positive than negative. In other words, in the first post, I made the point that Calvin's followers were not the founders of religious liberty in America. So the follow-up post would be to show who was the founder. And then there was to be a third post before leaving the subject about how that founder -- or more exact, how those founders were treated by the established authorities. And those posts are still in the hopper, but I wanted to drive home the fact in one or two more posts that we cannot honestly say that religious liberty and self-government are "embodied in the system of Calvin" as one has said and some repeat.
Author and historian William Warren Sweet wrote the following in his book Religion in Colonial America:
There is a widespread notion among Protestant groups that the separation of Church and State, and thus religious liberty, was one of the immediate products of the Reformation, that the early Protestants were advocates of a large tolerance, and that religious liberty was but the logical development of the principles held by all the reformers. Just where this notion arose is difficult to say, and no reputable historian of our times would endorse it. The fact is that the rise of Protestantism was accompanied by an ... outburst of intolerance. (p. 320)
This isn't just the opinion of one man. This is historical fact. Intrinsic in religious liberty, as Mr. Sweet points out, is the separation of Church and State. The Reformers failed to deal with the issue. And, similar to Roman Catholics before them, the Reformers married religion and the magistrate and persecuted anyone who disagreed. For example, John Calvin attacked those who argued for separation of church and state:
The principal purpose of the office of the magistrates is not this, to maintain their subjects in peace as to the body, but rather this, to bring about that God is served and honored in their lands and that everybody leads a good and honest life .... We see how that the devil speaks through their mouths, in order to turn the Princes from their course and keep them from their duty .... They show that they are enemies of God and of humankind.
To Calvin, the "civil magistracy is a calling not only holy and legitimate but by far the most sacred and honorable in human life" (Institutes, IV, 20:4). His followers took up the monistic combination of secular and religious authorities -- "Christian sacralism" or Constantinianism-- and marched forward inspiring Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor, to take the conclusions to its terrible ends. In support of the killing of heretics he wrote:
After God had launched Christianity by unarmed apostles He afterward raised up kings by whose wisdom He intended to protect His Church .... They do not like it that civil laws are enacted against their wickedness, saying that the apostles have asked no such thing of their kings -- but these men do not consider that those were different times and that all things agree with their own times. What emperor had at that time believed in Christ, in days in which Psalm 2 was still in effect: "Why do the nations rage ...." When we invoke lawfully and divinely instituted protection against stubborn and incorrigible heretics we only do what the Word of God and the authority of the holy prophets assert. (Dutch translation of Beza's work)
Jump forward several decades and in the colonization of America we see the children of the Reformers in the Massachusetts colony. The religious leaders held the sword of government and used it to compel people. In 1651, a group of Anabaptists arrived in Massachusetts and came into almost immediate conflict because of several reasons including the questioning of infant baptism and failure to attend government-mandated weekly church services (the meetinghouse). They were arrested, tried, fined and a few were flogged. And then we read of the Quakers who were dealt with even more severely by the Massachusetts colonists. Some were executed -- all in the name of keeping unity in the community.
Even after the founding of the United States, we see some vestiges of state-church coupling. In 1791, The First Amendment is ratified, ending the more than ten years of Anglican rule in the colonies. In 1818 Connecticut disestablishes Congregational rule from its government. In 1833 Massachusetts follows suit and dissolves Congregational rule. And in 1961 Maryland became the last state in the Union to eliminate religious testing from its requirement to run for public office. And some of my readers may live in states -- most of which are in New England -- that require a licensed person to perform a religious marriage ceremony.
Despite what some say, the fact that the freedom to believe or disbelieve -- the pattern of voluntaryism as found in the New Testament -- is a "self-evident" right is not found "embodied in the system of Calvin." Roland Bainton, the late church historian and Luther biographer, wrote the following concerning our heritage of freedom:
These views are on the North American continent among those truths which we hold to be self-evident: the voluntary Church, the separation of Church and State, and religious liberty. From the days of Constantine ... the principles, to us so cardinal, had been in abeyance. (Recovery, p. 317)
Our heritage of religious liberty is due to the wisdom of "heretics." And, on this, I will write further posts. But I leave you with a quote by Ernst Troeltsch, German theologian and philosopher. Of the New World, he wrote:
Here those Stepchildren of the Reformation [i.e., Restitutionists, Anabaptists, the "Second Front"] have at long last had their history-making moment .... Here the end of the medieval idea of culture was effected and in the place of the coercive culture of the State-Church came the beginning of modern culture separate from the Church. (Historich Zeitschrift, 1924, p. 63)
Biblical economics does not make sense. To clarify, without a trust in God, Biblical economics often does not make sense. I have never been good with economics. Just the other day Bahnsen8 referred to Keynesian economics; I had to look it up. After just reading a little I was lost. However, it did lead me to the Austrian School of thought on economics. That, too, did not take long to confuse me. So I thought I would open the Bible and see what kind of economics I could learn there. This starts a series (who knows how long) on this very topic.
1. The Land Needs Rest
“For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines.” (Leviticus 25:3-5)
The land needing rest has a practical and a spiritual side. Practically speaking, our land (I also allegorize this to our economic markets, for example, the housing market) needs a chance to recover from the burden that has been placed on it. The idea of crop rotation comes to mind. Any swelling in the market now has a chance to recover.
However, there was more to the Sabbath year than just not growing crops. “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” (Exodus 21:2) “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.” (Deuteronomy 15:1)
Economists would hate to adopt such principles. But why does it work? One must trust that God will provide, especially at the Year of Jubilee. In the fiftieth year the land gets another whole year to rest. This means that families would have to rely on God for two straight years – the 49th as well as the 50th. However, this long extended time of rest probably only occurred once (no more than twice) in an individual’s lifetime. What is the lesson here: trust God, he will provide!
ASIDE: Interesting fact, 2009 is divisible by 7 (I bet you didn’t realize that).
You'll notice some color changes. More changes are in process, so don't adjust your screen.
Update: OK, there's the banner. It's really a first pass, because I'm trying to figure a way to incorporate the Delaware-crossing pic -- maybe as a watermark on the tag or silhouetted below the tank.