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Published on www.tnjn.com on June 8, 2009

“His blood be on us, and on our children.”

These chilling words are well known from the account of Jesus’ trial recorded in Matthew 27:25. Throughout history, they have been used (completely out of context) to justify horrendous persecution of Jews all around the world. In spite of the fact that an angry mob can hardly claim the authority to call down a curse upon an entire race of people, this gross distortion of the Scriptures has resulted in unspeakable atrocities which have cast a black shadow over the history of Christianity.

To say that “THE Jews killed Jesus” is comparable to saying that “THE Caucasians killed Martin Luther King, Jr.” While it is true that Jesus’ crucifixion was the result of His conflict with the Jewish leadership of the day, the fact remains that Gentiles were just as much involved in Jesus’ death as were Jews. Keep in mind that the actual death sentence was passed down by a cowardly Roman governor, and carried out at the hands of Roman soldiers.

Furthermore, we must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Himself was Jewish, as were all of His original disciples. Both the Old and New Testaments (with the possible exception of Luke), were written by Jewish believers. In fact, for the first 70 years of its existence, Christianity was seen as a sect of Judaism known as "The Way." It was only after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans that the two faiths separated.

The tensions grew as Christianity spread through Europe. Gradually, the impression of Jesus evolved from that of a Jewish figure to that of a Greco-Roman figure. The image of a rugged, Mediterranean carpenter was replaced by one of an effeminate blue-eyed blond. Consequentially, this new, Eurocentric Jesus was seen as having little regard for His own people, and His professed followers were happy to do likewise.

Perhaps the most infamous examples of this are the venomous tirades of Martin Luther, who denounced Jewish people as “…(a) base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."

It is also a matter of historic record that, in spite of his atrocities, Adolf Hitler was never formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church of his day. Even the universally revered Billy Graham was not above indulging in Jew-baiting, famously agreeing with then-president Richard Nixon’s conspiracies about Jews controlling the media.

Thankfully, recent decades have seen much vital progress in Jewish-Christian relations. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council declared that “The Church decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." This principle was seen in action during Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit to New York City, where he became the first Pope in history to visit an American synagogue.

Furthermore, Martin Luther’s modern followers have taken great care to distance themselves from their founder’s dark side. To this end, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has issued the following statement: “(W)hile, on the one hand, we are deeply indebted to Luther for his rediscovery and enunciation of the Gospel, on the other hand, we deplore and disassociate ourselves from Luther's negative statements about the Jewish people…"

This is echoed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, whose statement reads: “(W)e who bear (Luther’s) name and heritage must with pain acknowledge also Luther's anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings against the Jews…We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry.”

Philosopher Blaise Pascal was once asked by King Louis XIV about the primary evidence for the existence of God. Pascal’s response? “The Jews, your Majesty.“

Those of us who are Christians are called to honor the Jewish people as those “first entrusted with the Oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). To those of you who are Jewish, please forgive us for our failure to life up to this ideal.
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Published on http://tnjn.com/ May 27, 2009

"Fundamentalist" is a specifically Christian term. Consequentially, much modern usage in the media (i.e. attributing the 9-11 attacks to "Islamic Fundamentalists") is a severe misrepresentation of both faiths. In its purist form, Fundamentalism does not directly refer to any specific church, sect or political organization. Rather, it simply describes an inner-denominational movement tracing back to the early 20th century in which Christians responded to the challenges of modernity by codifying their most foundational beliefs.

Eventually, these were cataloged in a four-volume set known as The Fundamentals: A Testimony of the Truth (an online version can be read here). Published in 1917, The Fundamentals provide a fascinating, if not somewhat paradoxical, look at the fledgling movement. While some aspects (such as the rather strident anti-Catholic overtones) may be offensive to some, other parts are quite enlightening.

For example, in James Orr’s essay “Science and the Christian Faith,” he acknowledges that “there is no violence done to the (creation) narrative in substituting…vast cosmic periods — for "days" on our narrower, sun-measured scale.” These sentiments hardly fit the stereotypes of Fundamentalists in today’s world.

The first known use of the term “Fundamentalist” was by religious journalist Curtis Lee Laws, who referred to “those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal” in their defense. Unfortunately, since Fundamentalism did begin as a defensive movement, the resulting "Fightin’ Fundie" caricatures have often been very much deserved. On occasion, this has led to forays into anti-intellectualism (the Scopes "Monkey Trial" debacle) and in some cases, to outright bigotry (the shameful tactics of the "Reverend" Fred Phelps).

This characterization is unfortunate. While it is true that the Fundamentalist label is relatively new, the ideals it represents are as old as the Christian faith itself. As theologian J.I. Packer observes: "Our critics suppose that that what they call 'Fundamentalism' is something as new as its name. But it is not. Nor was sixteenth-century Protestantism, nor seventeenth-century Puritanism, nor eighteenth-century Methodism. These names denote simply particular aspects and episodes of the continuing history of evangelical Christianity."

At the core of Fundamentalism is a staunch belief in the message of the Scriptures. Fundamentalists believe in a God who has not only spoken, but has done so in a way that is reliable, understandable and practical. Is this simple faith? Yes, but it has been the historic position of the Christian church from its very beginning. In the words of Dallas Theological Seminary professor P.D. Feinberg: "Biblical inerrancy has been the view of the church throughout its history…(I)n each period of the church's history clear affirmations of the doctrine can be found."

With this premise established, the other elements of the Fundamentalist world view are easier to understand. For example, to believe in the authority of the Bible is also to embrace the absolute truth it presents us with. This can be seen in what is perhaps the most visible picture of Fundamentalism, the arena of politics. But before we are too hasty in rejecting these concerns, we must note that in many issues, the Fundamentalists are actually proving to be ahead of their time.

For example, given the advances of prenatal medical technology, it has become increasingly difficult to deny that an unborn child is truly a person. Why then is it considered so “extreme” to say that the child deserves legal protection? When we look at the horrendous impact of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, is the Christian sexual ethic (abstinence until marriage) really that unreasonable? Is it wise to cast science and faith as enemies when some of the greatest scientists in history (including Galileo, Copernicus, Keplar and many others) were Bible believers?

These issues are not going away, and if our goal is to be a tolerant, understanding people, we must look past our stereotypes and see the real substance that is all too often overlooked. Failure to do so is a “fundamental” mistake.
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Psalm 150 (The Message)


Psalm 150

 1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
      praise him under the open skies;
   Praise him for his acts of power,
      praise him for his magnificent greatness;
   Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
      praise by strumming soft strings;
   Praise him with castanets and dance,
      praise him with banjo and flute;
   Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
      praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
   Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
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Just wanted to introduce myself to the community and ask what's going on. It seems that this community has gone a bit inactive. I hope that this is only a temporary situation. Well, I'd like to know more about this community and let me know how I can contribute to the community. Thanks.
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I hope you all enjoy these, and have a wonderful Christmas!

Humor and the Bible/The Glory of God -Preached November 16, 2008

Faces of Christmas-Preached December 7, 2008 (Intro and closing comments from Pastor Larry Keith)

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Obviously, I would have preferred that the election turned out differently. Like most people of my persuasion, I continue to have deep concerns regarding President-Elect Obama's far left ideology, questionable associations and political naivete. But does that mean that I am going to sit back and hope the country will go downhill so that he will look bad? No way!

I accept that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Obama will be our President for the next 4-8 years. If he truly does know how to help the country, then I sincerely wish him well. Time will tell what kind of president he will make, but I will support him where I can, oppose him when I have to and pray for him daily.

At the risk of sounding cliche', this election was definitely historical. And yes, there is a symbolism to Mr. Obama's victory that transcends political ideologies. As I watched the reaction of African-American communities across the country, I could not help but be moved. I also commend him for the dignified way in which he conducted his campaign, and I hope that it will raise the level of dialog on racial issues in the future.

To those who supported Mr. Obama, congratulations on your win. You have much to be proud of. In his victory speech, he reached out to those of us who did not vote for him and pledged that he would be our President too. Let's hope he means it.

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Dear Friends,

As some of you already know, my neice, Stephanie Adcox, is being treated for severe eating disorders. You can read more about her at http://www.supportsteph.com/

Please keep Stephanie in your prayers, and please also pass this along to your churches and any prayer chains you are involved in.


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Published in The Daily Beacon, Friday, September 12, 2008

Every other Thursday, I look forward to picking up a copy of USA Today and reading the “Common Ground” column co-written by Bob Beckel , a veteran liberal Democratic activist, and Cal Thomas, a noted conservative columnist. The column’s descriptive blurb tells us that in spite of their political differences, the two are longtime friends and can often find agreement where politicians cannot. In today’s cutthroat political environment, I find this approach to be not only refreshing, but absolutely vital to our nation’s future.

The scenario is all too familiar: A conservative politician will announce a new terrorist threat or a liberal will promote new research on global warming. In either case, the actual substance of the issue is largely ignored. Instead, the opposition party will immediately begin a campaign to discredit the other side. After all, we can’t let one of “them” take credit for doing something positive for our country. All the while, the people’s safety and best interest are sacrificed at the bloody altar of “gotcha” politics. Does that disturb you? It should.

I am a conservative on most issues. Yet I want to see an end to war, poverty and racism just as much as my liberal friends do. While we may disagree on some of the means to these noble ends, we can be civil and charitable in our discussion of them. Furthermore, I recognize that apart from those on the left, these vital issues might not even be discussed.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not advocating a superficial, “warm-and-fuzzy” type of unity. I recognize that the differences are there, and that they are often quite significant. Nor should civility be used as a front for lack of passion or conviction. There are times when a non-compromising attitude is both commendable and necessary. But compromise is not always a bad thing. In fact, it would be impossible to accomplish anything worthwhile without it. For example, if our only available options are helping some poor people or helping none, reducing some greenhouse gasses or reducing none, preventing some abortions or preventing none, aren’t the choices pretty obvious?

As a former professor of mine pointed out, it is possible to be opponents without being enemies. Examples would include Republican President Eisenhower and Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn. Another would be President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill. More recently, we have been seeing former Vice President Al Gore’s innovative TV ads addressing global warming and climate change. Did you ever think you would see the Reverends Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton on the same platform? What about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her predecessor, Newt Gingrich? While I am no fan of Gore’s politics, I commend him for seeking to heal the partisan divide in this manner.

I realize that I walk a thin line here, as I write primarily about religiously themed issues. As a self-professed “theology geek” (and recently ordained minister), that is simply “what I do.” I feel that this is an important contribution, as practically every major issue we face can be traced back to what one believes about God and ultimate reality. However, as one who does believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth (and that truth, by nature, is a divisive thing), there are challenges involved in making the point in a way that avoids creating unnecessary division. In biblical terminology, that is called being a “repairer of the breach.”

In our current Presidential race, I was initially a supporter of Gov. Mike Huckabee. I saw him as a man of integrity who shared many of my political convictions, yet was willing to think “outside the box” on other issues. Now that the nominees have been decided, I must admit that Sen. McCain has showed many of the same qualities I admired in Huckabee. Despite the rantings of the pseudo-messiahs on talk radio, I see McCain’s independent streak as a positive thing.

Our two most recent presidential administrations have been among the most contentious and divisive in history. The next president, whomever that may be, will have a real opportunity to act as a healer. Let us hope that opportunity will not be squandered.

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Dear Friends,

After 10 fruitful years of internet ministry, I am happy to announce that our site has been given a long overdue update! The site still has all of the great features you enjoyed before, but it is now more use friendly and easier to navigate than ever! Please drop us a line at http://www.james-dave.com/

Also, if you haven't visited us in a while, you will notice a number of newer resources. Among them:

A new section of Audio sermons and teachings on a wide variety of topics: http://www.james-dave.com/audio.html

Your Bible questions explored on our Bible FAQ page:

Our Bible articles now number over 50: http://www.james-dave.com/infoe.html

When you visit please drop us an e-mail or sign the guestbook and share any comments or suggestions you may have. We are here to serve you! Also, if you have a web site and would be willing to give us a link, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Hello!  My name is Greg Gustafson.  I've written a book based on a sermon I preached years ago.  I have a question that some of you may be able to answer:

How does a writer bypass or get through the dilemma of not having a platform?  Since this is a community of believers, I would answer my own question by saying that, when God is in it, it is in His timing.  But do any of you have any experience with this?  Can anyone give me pointers other than "give it to God"?

Thank you! 

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