The Great Ghost Debate Are Human Spirits Consistent With a Biblical Worldview?

ghost debate

Many have objected to my arguments that a biblical worldview must leave room for human ghosts by insisting that they are all demons in disguise. While it is impossible for an author to address each readers concerns one on one, a serious author will seek the opponent with the strongest counter arguments and address them in print. That is why I addressed Mark Hunneman’s work in The Supernatural Worldview. Now in the interest of seeking truth, we are taking it live. I will be debating Presbyterian Pastor Mark Hunneman author of Seeing Ghosts Through God’s Eyes on whether or not “all ghosts are demons” (Mark’s position) or if a biblical worldview allows for the appearance of human apparitions (my stance). This will be recorded and publicly podcast free to all on Beyond Extraordinary with Natalina, the first weekend in October.

Movie Review The Remaining

remaining_xlg The Remaining is a refreshingly realistic portrayal of the rapture and tribulation events described in biblical prophecy. It seems to follow the Pre-Wrath perspective on the rapture timing. Overall, it is one of the better Christian films I have seen. The film begins with a wedding (as in the days of Noah)  and focuses on a group of contemporary twenty somethings:

 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,”(Mt 24:38)

[SPOILER ALERT]

The acting is quite good for a Christian film and the personalities and attitudes of the characters resemble those of today’s young adults. The swanky wedding party quickly goes south as many folks drop dead and the building is bombarded with basketball size hail. I suspect many Christians might take exception with this interpretation because the dead folks are actually the Christian believers. Rather than piles of clothes on the floor like in the Left Behind film, the believers bodies remain while their souls are taken up. Of course, this readily dismisses the proverbial question, “How will they explain the missing Christians?” It  makes a lot of practical sense but I wonder if it is biblical. The principle rapture passage is from 1 Thessalonians:

 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.(1 Th 4:16–17)

Paul does not specify that those who are left are bodily “caught up” up but the preceding verse speaks to the awakening of the dead whose souls are already in heaven so it must be their bodies in focus. The best description of this event is in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”(1 Co 15:51–52)

Because Paul compares this to Jesus’ bodily resurrection (1 Co 15:20-23), it is problematic to spiritualize the raising of the dead and consequently the rapture of living believers. Thus, the apparent death of believers provides a satisfying rationale for the rapture but it doesn’t accurately match Paul’s descriptions.

Overall the film gets a lot of things right and corrects many of the common errors in worldly thinking. Some of the film’s characters believe “the good people were taken and the bad people were left.” This is corrected by Pastor Shay (played by John Pyper-Ferguson) who clarifies “the believers were taken and the unbelievers were left.” The message of scripture is that there are no “good people” (Rom 3:10) and the saved are forgiven because they believe Jesus died for their sins and was raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:3) This important point is emphasized as demons strategically destroy Bibles and kill the characters who come to saving faith. However, this also brings my main criticism into focus.

The biggest problem with The Remaining is that the Gospel is never clearly articulated. The bride in the opening wedding scene, Skylar (played by Alexa PenaVegais a nominal Christian whose parents dropped dead at the wedding. She is the first in the film to realize that the rapture has taken place and she finds a Bible to prove it to her friends. She prays to God and repents of her luke warm faith. Soon after, she is attacked by a demon and slienced. As mentioned above, the apostate pastor also realizes he never really believed and repents. He is also quickly taken out by demonic assault.

What’s missing is what they came to believe. The name Jesus is hardly mentioned much less the fact that he died for our sins and rose from the dead. I suspect the producers wanted the film to provoke unbelievers to ask, “What is it they believed?” rather than hit them over the head with it.  Even so, it seems to me that at least one of the characters could have said “I believe Jesus died for my sins!” It is still a great film to start the conversation and I recommend it.

Pope–Petrus Romanus–Francis Has Only a Few Years to Live?

The Arutz Sheva Israel National News is reporting that Pope Francis has only a few years to live and may retire like his predecessor Benedict.  If he steps down, then I will be the first to say the Prophecy of the Popes was wrong. People who read Petrus Romanus carefully are aware I have always been tentative, for it to be fulfilled Rome should be destroyed. If Pope Frank steps down and Rome is fine, the prophecy of the popes is undone. I have always maintained a wait and see position, my argument has been that past fulfillment compelled me to not dismiss it. I will dismiss it if this pope retires uneventfully. However, it could also mean that 2016 will mark its culmination, the jury is still out.

 

Pope Francis: I Only Have 2-3 More Years to Live

Pope Francis believes that he still has a maximum of three years left to live, he told reporters Monday, and indicated that he is considering early retirement.

“Another two or three years, and God will take me,” Francis said, speaking to reporters on his way back to the Vatican from South Korea. According to reporters on the plane, the pope was generally in high spirits despite the grim prediction.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184187#.U_Nce2P5M-d

 

Last PopeWatch the The Last Pope? for details on the Prophecy of the Popes.

Blood on the Altar

I contributed a chapter to this new book. Because the issue of same sex marriage is the definitive issue between liberal and conservative protestants, I framed it as the main issue and argued for the classical Christian stance.

Response to Joseph P. Farrell Genes, Giants, Monsters and Men

I have been reading Genes, Giants, Monsters and Men by Joseph P Farrell. While I am sympathetic to many of his speculations, I was taken aback to read him citing 19th century German Assyriologist Friedrich Delitzsch. He is famous as an early proponent of the idea that the Genesis narrative were borrowed from the ancient Babylonians. This was expounded in his 1902 lecture, “Babel and Bible.”  Here is the page from Farrell’s book with an illustration from Delitzsch asserting the name Yahweh is found in ancient Sumerian tablets long before the time of Moses.
[i]

In truth Delitzsch is known today as a rabid antisemite that helped to fuel the rise of the Third Reich.[ii] His attitude toward the Hebrew Bible is laid bare in this quote from a later book:

The so-called “Old Testament” is entirely dispensable for the Christian church, and thereby also for the Christian family. It would be a great deal better for us to immerse ourselves from time to time in the deep thoughts, which our German intellectual heroes have thought concerning God, eternity, and immortality.[ii]

Delitzsch’s vitriol is characteristic of the prevailing antisemtism in Germany during that era. As to his assertion that the name Yahweh is nothing special, it is no longer seriously entertained by scholars.

Delitzsch (1850-1922) was one of the early pioneers of ancient near eastern scholarship. At that time, there was a new field called Assyriology dealing with the newly discovered cuneiform tablets. Of course knowledge has advanced greatly since that time. Today the language of the Assyians and Babylonians is referred to as Akkadian. Delitzsch  was soundly criticized by other German scholars during his day[iv] and as linguistic studies have advanced, scholars dismiss his assertions as extremely doubtful.[v]  Most lexicons assert, “No certain etymology of the divine name can be offered.” [vi]

This information is widely available in any good Hebrew lexicon, which begs the question of why Farrell is promoting  discredited19th century scholarship with absolutely no criticism offered? I asked Semitics scholar Dr. Michael Heiser for his opinion and he wrote, “No one should be taking Farrell seriously on biblical studies. His field is Patristics. He’s perpetuating outdated and refuted scholarship in a different field – Semitics. Yes, you can quote me.”[vii] ANE languages scholar Dr. Michael Brown handled this question at 1:01:39 in his August 24, 2012 radio show here.

I am still reading the book but this uncritical use of long debunked scholarship sends up red flags.

 

 

 

[i] Joseph P. Farrell, Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men: The Surviving Elites of the Cosmic War and Their Hidden Agenda (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2011), 21.

[ii] see: http://www.michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble/BabelBibelBias.pdf

[iii] Friedrich Delitzsch, Die Grosse Täuschung (The Great Deception) as quoted in Arnold and Weisberg, “Babel und Bibel und Bias” Bible Review 18:01.

[iv] see: http://www.logosapologia.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Driver-Studia-Biblica-1885-Tetragrammaton.pdf

[v] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 218.

[vi] Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), 522–523.

[vii] Personal email 8/4/2014