Shroud of Turin (Jesus ‘burial cloth’) a prop for medieval Easter ceremonies, says historian

British historian Charles Freeman claims that he has compiled all of the information he can about the Shroud of Turin and has come to the conclusion that it was just intended to be a prop for people in medieval times who celebrated Christ’s resurrection on Easter, the pagan holiday.

Freeman noted that the very first mention of the Shroud appeared in the 1300s, around the time emphasis was placed on how bloodied Christ was at his trial and crucifixion. Prior to that, Freeman claims, all depictions of Christ were free of the blood and gore that is popular today. His views line up with the questionable method of radiocarbon dating done of the Shroud in 1988 that gives it a 14th century date. Freeman argues the Shroud only became a relic in the 15th century, when “it was acquired by the House of Savoy in 1453 … to shore up the power base of the insecure Alpine dukedom.”

Examining the various engravings of the Shroud, Freeman points out, “few researchers appear to have grasped that the shroud looked very different in the 16th and 17th centuries from the object we see today.” In other words, he believes it was tampered with at various times to match the bloodied Christ depiction so common today.

As I have noted before, the Bible states clearly that Jesus’ burial cloths were in two pieces or more–one for his head, the other(s) for the rest of his body, as was Jewish custom (John 11:43-44; John 20:6-7). The Shroud is one piece of cloth that supposedly covered Christ’s whole body. When details like this conflict, I would rather stick to what the Bible says. Despite this, many who claim Christianity are caught up in venerating (worshiping) this thing as a religious relic when, in fact, true Christianity is not in the business of promoting the veneration of any relics.

For more info on Freeman’s research, read the original article that appeared on October 23 in The Guardian.

Women lack leadership roles in evangelical nonprofits

boardroomResearchers at Gordon College and Wheaton College have discovered after surveying 1400 evangelical organizations that women have fewer leadership roles than their secular counterparts. While women in secular organizations make up 43% of their nonprofit boards and 40% of their CEOs overall, in the evangelical world only 21% of evangelical boards are female, 19% are in top paid positions, and 16% are CEOs.

A majority of evangelicals (94%), whether men or women, believe that men and women should have equal access to those leadership roles, which has left experts wondering why that isn’t reflected in the actual numbers of women leaders. Three basic questions have arisen from these numbers, namely:

  1. Do the women make decisions that limit their options?
  2. Are there attitudes in these work environments that put men at a better advantage to take these positions?
  3. Do evangelical women feel that their roles at home and church, as stated in the Bible, should also apply to society in general?

Several days ago, an article appeared at CharismaNews from a pastor’s wife who in her travels to different churches still found that women approached her with the concern that they as women were prohibited from preaching, teaching, and praying for people and were relegated to only serving in the church kitchen or cleaning the facilities.

Is this really what God has in mind for women? I personally can’t see how that could be for several reasons such as:

  • Jesus appeared to a woman first after his resurrection (Mark 16:9) and she was the very first to spread the good news of his resurrection.
  • When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2) as evidenced by their preaching/prophesying in tongues, both women and men were there (see Acts 1:14). Peter attests to this when he addressed the interested crowd by quoting Joel 2 where Joel prophesied God would use both sons and daughters, servants and handmaidens to prophesy, which includes preaching.
  • Priscilla taught Apollos the way of God more perfectly alongside her husband Aquila (Acts 18:26). She was also in business together with her husband and Paul joined their business also to help pay for his ministry (Acts 18:3).
  • Lydia, a businesswoman in Philippi (Acts 16:14), was the first person of that city to become part of the church. And there’s no mention of her being told to close her business after being saved.
  • Euodias and Syntyche were also women at Philippi who labored with Paul in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3).
  • The deacon Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
  • Phoebe was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Rome and Paul ordered that church to assist her with whatever she needed because she supported many people in the ministry, including Paul. Apparently those who were ordered by Paul to assist her had to include men (Romans 16:1).

So having taken all of this into account, what do we do with the scripture where Paul told women to keep silence in the churches (1 Corinthians 14:34) or when he told Timothy “I suffer not a woman to teach” (1 Timothy 2:12)? Or how about when he told Titus that young women should be keepers at home (Titus 2:4-5)? I doubt if Paul meant women should not be leaders in the church. But what I do know for sure is all the examples above and that Paul gave instructions on how a woman should prophesy in 1 Corinthians 11 and it’s clear he was talking about women prophesying and praying in church (1 Corinthians 11:16).

Source: Adelle M. Banks, In Evangelical Nonprofits, Women Leaders Lag Behind Peers in General Market, ChristianHeadlines.com, October 23. 2014.

Assorted nuts & nincompoops: Shia LaBeouf finds God? Really?

Shia LaBeoufIn our day of easy-believism and embracing a Jesus that requires no repentance, it’s no surprise that celebrities and the so-called Christians who kiss up to them for the sake of name-dropping and photo ops are really confused about who Jesus really is and what he requires of his followers. The latest example of this is 28-year-old actor Shia LaBeouf, one of the stars in the war drama Fury.

In a recent interview with Interview magazine, LaBeouf gives a glimpse of what’s going on in his heart and mind, revealing a very disturbed, very pitiful soul. I pray he will one day encounter the true life-changing-make-you-wanna-do-a-180 Jesus of the Bible. I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about him. A part of me would like to yell at him about getting his act together and the other part of me feels sorry for him because he just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Anyway, here’s the overall breakdown of this interview:

  • He attributes his recent arrest and being kicked out of a Broadway show as ‘method acting’ to irritate actor Alec Baldwin. However, in this ‘method acting’ episode he put his hands on people.
  • LaBeouf claims his problems are due to his very strained relationship with his dad and his seeking solace in drugs and alcohol.
  • In the movie Fury, he plays a Christian soldier and says playing this part helped him find God. Then he goes on to explain “I became a Christian man, and not in a f***ing b******t way – in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me.” He goes on to say, “Brad [Pitt] was really instrumental in guiding my head through this. Brad comes from a hyper-religious, very deeply Christian, Bible Belt life, and he rejected it and moved toward an unnamed spirituality. He looked at religion like the people’s opium, almost like a Marxist view on religion. Whereas [Fury writer-director] David [Ayers] is a full subscriber to Christianity. But these two diametrically opposed positions both lead to the same spot, and I really looked up to both men.”
  • The actor indulges himself in some self-pity over dissatisfaction with parts of his career and money not bringing him happiness when he states, ‘I felt like I was being blamed for everything wrong with every movie I’d ever been a part of. Which may well have been the case. … And then you’ve got everybody around you going, “How could you not feel joy? Look at all the blessings. Look at all this money that you have. Look at all these opportunities that you have.” And you can’t be grateful because these aren’t things you ever got into this m**********r for.’

All in all, LaBeouf with his profanity-laced statements seems to be your typical self-obsessed entertainer who blames others a lot and maybe hasn’t accepted full responsibility for his actions yet. Hopefully one day he’ll arrive at a genuine Jesus moment and become a new creation inwardly who displays it outwardly.

Source: Elvis Mitchell, Shia LaBeouf, Interviewmagazine.com, November 2014.

Is religion just a fear tactic used to control people?

screamThat is often the accusation used by unbelievers in their attempts to argue that Christianity is invalid. But is that argument itself a valid one? As any of us who have lived long enough knows, fear can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the situation. We have healthy fears that preserve our lives, such as the fear of walking into a busy roadway without looking in every direction first. We also have unhealthy fears, like being afraid of going to the doctor for checkups with the illogical assumption doctors only give bad news.

The truth is that the preaching of the genuine gospel can sometimes be a fear tactic. And that’s fine with God because the dangerous consequences of not heeding the gospel are real. God has given us license to use fear tactics when they are based on his truth in pointing people to the true and living God because God’s control of someone’s life is good control with positive end results. Since God has proven himself to be 100% righteous and trustworthy, the end justifies the means here.

According to Jude, we must depend on wisdom from the Holy Ghost with prayer, mercy, and love to know when fear tactics are necessary and when they should be avoided since God has two basic tactics of drawing people to him. Notice here what Jude says:

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

We are to go out of our way to show overwhelming compassion toward some of the unsaved people he mentions in the preceding verses (v. 15-19) because some unbelievers only require a very gentle nudge to get God’s message across. Then there are others who need to be scared straight with an urgent hellfire and brimstone message to be shown how serious their situation really is (even to the point of yanking them out of the fire) and how appalled God is at their behavior with a display of disgust at the very tools they use to promote their sin. This is what Jude refers to using the symbolic phrase at the end of v. 23 which also shows up in Zechariah 3:4.

Paul also said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” 2 Corinthians 5:11. In other words, hell ain’t no joke. Proverbs 24:11-12 also makes this plain.

If we want to be frank about fear tactics, even Christianity’s critics use them for control. Fear is used to persuade people not to believe in Jesus by making them believe the lie their lives will be over if they do or that their lives will be boring and ruined if they have to give up their pet sin (despite the fact their pet sin has already ruined their lives). Fear is used by socialists to threaten, bully, and badger people with violence and/or surveillance if they choose not to comply. Fear is used by liberals for mind control to brainwash people into thinking those who don’t think like them are out to keep them from what they’re entitled to, therefore they should envy and become a scofflaw if necessary to get what they want. Environmentalists use it. Educators use it.

Fear tactics for control are in every segment of society. So the question we should really ask is “Is this controlling fear tactic for genuine good or genuine evil?”

Rejoicing in a clear conscience of godly simplicity and sincerity

rejoiceThere’s nothing like being able to spend time with a genuine Christian who isn’t perfect but who shows that even if they face challenges they are determined to ultimately do what pleases the Lord. Based on what we see in Paul’s writings, that’s the type of person he was thanks to the Lord doing mighty works in his life. Despite his facing death threats and many other troubles, Paul was able to share these words:

12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 2 Corinthians 1

He was hated by many, slandered and defamed by many, attacked by many, and had many other troubles, but was able to rejoice in the fact his conscience in himself and before God was completely clear. How did he manage that? By his simplicity and godly sincerity that he had in his conversation (i.e. his lifestyle–public and private) as he submitted to the grace of God.

What was this simplicity and godly sincerity Paul speaks of? It was his inner, Holy Spirit-led determination to stay true to the Lord’s will no matter what. His simplicity meant, as explained by the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, that he had “a fair open profession and practice of evangelical truth, with a single view to obedience and to the glory of God.” Paul was so focused on the Lord that he was not double minded. He did not vacillate or contradict himself or God. He wasn’t wishy-washy with his morals. What he distinguished as sin or righteousness months before were the same things he pointed out as sin or righteousness in the present. That’s why he avoided fleshly wisdom, which is marked by contradictions, instability, and ungodly compromises.

The ability to stay focused on simplicity brought forth his godly sincerity. He was genuinely, sincerely in tune with the Lord’s wishes. Paul sincerely communicated with the Lord who sincerely communicated back to him by the Holy Spirit. He knew how to lovingly “keep it real” for the Lord’s sake and this led to his God-blessed lifestyle (conversation) of spiritual gifts to flow “more abundantly” to churches, like Corinth, that he ministered to. And that abundance not only flowed to churches back then. It flows out to us today if we follow Paul’s example, embracing and acknowledging the words he wrote by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.

That’s how we can rejoice like Paul did in the testimony of his conscience. It’s sad to see when churches avoid these simple principles. For example, this church in Alabama, that is now suing its pastor after he admitted to having affairs with women in the church while he had AIDS and then admitted to abusing drugs. The signs of his evil doings must have been seen somewhere along the way since he was pastor since 1990. Now this pastor has gone rogue and changed the locks to the church facilities and attempted to freeze the board out of the church bank accounts. All of this could have been avoided if they had used spiritual discernment years ago.

Nevertheless, Paul’s words and examples like this church can serve to encourage us that we can be better and do better with the Lord’s help.

Harry A. Gaylord

Houston’s city leaders use pro-gay ordinance to demand copies of pastors’ sermons

Houston’s city attorneys have assumed the role of Nazi fascists by using Houston’s non-discrimination pro-gay ordinance as a basis for doling out subpoenas to several pastors throughout the city to hand their sermons and all communications with church members over to the city for inspection to see what they may have said about homosexuality, transgenders, and the lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. When the non-discrimination ordinance was being discussed and promoted, assurances were given by the mayor and city leaders that churches and small businesses would be exempt. But, of course, lieberals have been known to lie to get their way. That’s what has happened in Houston.

Tacked onto the ordinance was a bathroom bill that mandated all bathroom and restroom facilities to be open for use to both men and women to accommodate transgenders. Many Houston residents then signed a petition in opposition to the bathroom bill so it could be placed on the ballot for a citywide vote. After the petition was submitted with tens of thousands more signatures than the law required, city leaders made up an excuse to toss it out and a lawsuit was filed by petitioners in response. The city council and city attorneys then decided to distribute the subpoenas to the pastors as payback, just like any devoted socialist fascist would, even though the pastors subpoenaed were not parties in the suit. Contempt of court charges with possible jail time have been threatened for any pastor who fails to comply.

The Alliance Defending Freedom issued a statement about the move, which says in part, “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.” One pastor has gone on the record stating, “We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights. This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.” This proves once again what history has shown us–when radical socialists/atheists/progressives/liberals gain power, they trample on others’ God-given and constitutional freedoms because their deep-seated hatred prompts them to do so. Satan’s principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places have shown themselves, which means Christians must respond with prayer to gain wisdom to combat the ungodly forces and take legal action against a blatant violation of the Constitution.

Source: Todd Starnes, City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons, FoxNews.com, October 14, 2014.

Obama admin’s Susan Rice shares wrong info again–this time re:Turkey

The Obama administration never seems to get enough of sticking their feet in their mouths or not verifying info before they share it or just flat out lying. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the one who lied to us about Benghazi, showed up on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and gave us a message of hope that later turned out not to be true. Here’s a clip of her interview:

Turkey’s so-called agreement was really no agreement whatsoever as shown here:

Although this second video is full of excuses why Turkey is reluctant to let NATO forces use its air bases, the real reason is that Turkey and other New World Order interests see ISIS as a means to an end and are secretly supporting ISIS, just like Vice President Biden stated in a speech several days ago–comments he later dialed back (guess he wasn’t supposed to let the cat out of the bag) after Turkey vehemently denied it by feigning indignance at such a prospect. Turkey has not hidden the fact that they want a Middle Eastern Union (i.e. a caliphate), a move which will serve to push the world closer to welcoming the Antichrist who I believe will come from Turkey.

The traditional news media outlets continue to give the masses reasons not to trust them with all the misinformation being bandied about. “Meet the Press” has been struggling in its ratings since the passing of Tim Russert, making changes recently to turn things around. And wouldn’t you know it? The current administration, who they have been so cozy with, has left them looking like fools. I don’t think they should count on their ratings going up any time soon if they continue to shell out this type of junk.

Harry A. Gaylord