Problems with the Early Christian Lead Books Discovery

Via Bibleplaces.com:

My attempts to avoid this grand discovery have not gone well, to judge from the number of emails I have received suggesting that I must not have seen this story.  It’s foolish to think that I can somehow temper enthusiasm by ignoring the report, so I am succumbing to the requests to note the discovery here.  If I had delayed one more day (April 1), I would have at least felt some measure of justification in spending my time on this.

The basis for the story as reported by BBC and others is a press release from David and Jennifer Elkington.  The best available photographs that I am aware of are at the Daily Mail

The discovery is a collection of 70 ring-bound books made of lead and copper.  Other artifacts were made at the site of discovery, including scrolls and tablets. 

In a nutshell, the problems with this discovery include the facts that (1) we don’t know who owns the artifacts; (2) we don’t know where they were found; (3) the artifacts were not excavated by archaeologists but stolen by thieves; (4) nearly all information about the discovery so far has come from a single source of dubious reliability; (5) claims have been made that this find is more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls; (6) the source of information appears to be positioning himself for fame and fortune…

And from the conclusion:

There may be something to this discovery, but first the artifacts must be confiscated by the officials and assigned to reputable scholars.  In the meantime, I would not trust anything coming from the mouths of antiquities thieves or Mr. Elkington.

Read on here.

Trans Anglican Clergy Gaining Greater Acceptance

Whatever it is, it’s no longer a church:

Last week, the Rev Dr Christina Beardsley, vice-chair of Changing Attitude, a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual members of the Church of England, was one of the voices featured on 4Thought.tv’s week of short films featuring trans people and faith.

While the US Episcopal church developed a maverick reputation within the Anglican communion for blessing same sex marriages and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy, the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England’s report Some Issues in Human Sexuality, issued in 2003, contained a chapter titled “Transsexualism”. Currently, one can find about a half dozen trans clergy in the UK and US. These numbers are imprecise, as some clergy do not wish to go public beyond the scope of their individual parish or diocese – a concern that’s understandable given that the trans community seldom receives even the legal protections afforded gays and lesbians…

During the 2008 Lambeth conference, a decennial gathering of Anglican bishops, Beardsley organised a panel titled “Listening to Trans People“. While only four bishops attended this gathering, it represented the highest number of bishops to participate in an Inclusive Network to date. Also, this panel helped consolidate Changing Attitude’s networking with Sibyls, a UK-based Christian spirituality group for trans people, and the US-based online community TransEpsicopal.

… The Rev Vicki Gray, a Vietnam vet before her transition, and currently a deacon with an emphasis on ministry to the homeless, noted that their goals at general convention were to assert that we exist as flesh-and-blood human beings, to demonstrate that we are here in the church as decent and devout followers of Jesus Christ, and to begin the process of education and dialogue that will lead to full inclusion in the life of the church, not only of the transgendered but of other sexual minorities such as the inter-sexed (known to some as hermaphrodites).

… From 3-10 April, Transgender Faith Action Week will be held in the Boston area in the hope of bringing forth faith leaders from different traditions to increase awareness of the trans community in religious circles. Partridge, one of the organisers, says: “We call upon the church to consider carefully its vision of theological anthropology, its theological vision of the human person. How does gender factor into our conception of the human?” After all, in Genesis 1:26, God created ha-adam, a nonsexual term that means “human being”. Then, after he created humanity, she declared that it all was “very good”.

What depraved distortion of the Holy Scripture by the sodomites who have infiltrated the church and are leading it rapidly along the broad road that heads straight to destruction.

‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Cor 6:9-10).

‘Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:3).

‘If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…’ (1 Tim 6:3-4).

 

Is Hell Crowded or Empty?

Writes Fr Robert Barron:

An Internet controversy is percolating around a soon-to-be-published book by well-known evangelical preacher Rob Bell. In “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,” Bell advocates the “universalist” position on salvation, which holds that everyone in the end is saved and that hell, accordingly, is empty. Many of his evangelical coreligionists are arguing that this doctrine runs counter to classical biblical Christianity and is designed to appeal to a postmodern audience for whom the only unforgivable sin is to be “exclusive.” This dustup over hell made the main page of the CNN website the other day and has prompted tens of thousands of responses. Obviously hell is still (forgive the pun) a burning question among both believers and nonbelievers.

There is nothing new about this controversy. It has raged on and off for almost the whole of Christian history…

Read on here.

Plus this video: