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*GOD, NATURE OF
RISING STATISTICS: "In 1974, according to a Gallup poll, 61 percent of Americans gambled, wagering $17.4 billion legally. In 1989, 71 percent of Americans gambled, wagering $246 billion, a 1400 percent increase in fifteen years. In 1974, less than 1 percent of the population gambled compulsively. Today the figure is estimated to be closer to 3 to 4 percent who gamble compulsively with as high as 6 to 7 percent considered problem gamblers.
Gambling fever has swept the country. Gambling is a new national phenomenon. According to International Gaming and Wagering Business Magazine, an estimated $330 billion was wagered legally in the United States in 1992, an increase of 162 percent in a decade. Gambling expenditures each year exceed the amount of money spent on films, books, amusements, and music entertainment combined. Americans gamble about five times as much each year as they spend on toys." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p19)
RISING STATISTICS: "In 1993, approximately $400 billion was wagered in the United States. In 1994, the total dollars legally gambled in the United States jumped to $482 billion, a 22.3 percent increase over the year before. Since 1982, the total amount gambled in the United States has nearly quadrupled. In a short time, legal gambling will surpass all other forms of entertainment in total revenues." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p20)
RISING STATISTICS: "Between 1990 and 1993, the number of American households visiting casinos doubled from forty-six million to ninety-two million, with more than thirty-five million of the increase at casinos outside New Jersey and Nevada. In 1993, more people visited casinos for the first time than purchased tickets to major-league baseball parks. More than one hundred million people patronized casinos, video gaming, and sports betting enterprises." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p20)
RISING STATISTICS: "The amount Americans are betting is also increasing. In 1994, The amount wagered was $482 billion, which is 8.45 percent of U.S. personal income. Between 1993 and 1994, personal income went up 6 percent in the United States while the amount gambled increased 22 percent. In the past decade, legal wagers grew at two times the rate of personal income." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, M149516, p20)
ILLEGAL GAMBLING STATISTICS: "No one really knows how much money goes through illegal bookmaking and the numbers racket each year. Estimates of illegal gambling place the figure at an amount at least equal to the amount gambled legally." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p21)
VICE OF CHOICE: Studies show the following statistics for U.S. citizens:
95 percent have gambled at some time in their lives. 82 percent have played the lottery. 75 percent have played slot machines.
50 percent have bet on horse or dog races.
44 percent play cards.
34 percent play bingo.
26 percent have bet on sports events.
74 percent have frequented casinos.
89 percent approve of casino gambling.
WM N THOMPSON, PROFESSOR UNIV. NEVADA, LAS VEGAS: "The era of expanded legalized gambling has coincided with a trend toward increased permissiveness in society. There certainly is a connection between attitudes about lifestyle, sex, pornography-even abortion and occasional drug use-and attitudes toward gambling. The notion that government has no business in our bedrooms relates to the notion that government has no business telling us how to spend our leisure time and our own money as long as we are doing so without coercion or harm to others." (cited by Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p)
HISTORY: "Anglo-Saxon and later English law evidenced both a tolerance and an ambiguous attitude toward gambling. At first, neither gambling nor promotion of gambling were considered crimes. Shakespeare, for example, mentioned gambling thirteen times in seven plays.
The bewitching nature of gambling eventually caught up with English society, however, for they enacted a law against gambling in games in 1542, a law against all gambling in 1665, and a law making lotteries illegal in 1698. In one of the more prescient phrases of the English language, Lord Beaconsfield called gambling "a vast engine of national demoralization." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p30)
HISTORY: "When the colonists arrived in America, gambling was already a widely practiced pastime of Native Americans. But colonial leaders were not interested in encouraging the activity. The New World's first law against gambling was enacted by the Puritans in 1638. Both the Puritans and the Pilgrims believed gambling undermined a sound work ethic, yielding idleness and debauchery. In 1670, the Massachusetts legislature banned cards and dice as a "great dishonor of God," and cards were considered the devil's playthings. In 1682, the Quakers decided to outlaw gambling, considering dice, cards, and so on to be "enticing, vain, and evil sports and games."
Yet "gambling in one form or another was as traditional in early America as the spelling-bee or barn-raising." At one time or another all thirteen colonies operated lotteries, which were used extensively throughout the colonies to raise funds for public works. The armed forces got into the act during the Revolutionary War when troop supplies were purchased with funds from colonial lotteries. In 1775, the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, was built using proceeds from a lottery.
In 1832, there were more than four hundred lotteries in eight states with a total ticket purchase of $66 million-five times the federal budget of that year. This continued in the new nation in which twenty-four of thirty-three states between 1790 and 1850 used lottery revenues to finance roads, buildings, canals, and bridges. In that same period, lotteries were employed by more than fifty colleges, three hundred lower schools, and two hundred churches, along with individuals and private charities. Even the religious leaders at Harvard used lotteries to help finance capital projects until 1793, as did university officials at Columbia and Brown.
During the period of June 10 to July 2, 1776, Thomas Jefferson kept notes of his backgammon, cards, and lotto winnings and losses even while he was writing the Declaration of Independence. Later, the Virginia legislature authorized Jefferson to conduct a lottery for private gain after his years in the presidency left him in dire financial need. The lottery never happened, for he died before it could be implemented." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p30-31)
SIDE EFFECTS: "Today Las Vegas is a city of neon. Some fifteen thousand miles of lighted neon tubing shines on downtown Las Vegas and along Las Vegas Boulevard-the Strip. The lights are so many and so bright that they blind the traveler to the real Vegas.
Prostitution is no longer legal in Clark County and Las Vegas, but it is still legal in parts of Nevada and can be found nearby. Along the Strip, pimps pass out literature to male visitors (even those with female companions) advertising exotic entertainers for private shows in one's room. Anything can be had in Las Vegas twenty-four hours a day -for a price.
Las Vegas claims one of the nation's highest crime rates. Nevada lists the highest incarceration rate in the nation, and 40 percent of the felons jailed in Nevada are from out of state. One in every sixty six households files for bankruptcy in Nevada-the highest rate in the nation.
Nevada also has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the nation (much of it given away free in casinos). In 1994, the FBI found that criminals in Las Vegas committed five times as many violent crimes as police were able to solve. This is the worst ratio of any large city in the United States.
Personal economics are taking a hit in Las Vegas too. Eight times every day in Las Vegas there is a meeting of a Gamblers Anonymous group. Gambling thrives on destroyed lives, and the destruction always begins in the pocketbook." (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p36)
SIDE EFFECTS: Not everything is coming up roses in Atlantic City:
New Jersey gave a license to the first Atlantic City casino, Resorts International, despite evidence of organized
crime involved in the company's Bahamas operation.
In 1979, ABSCAM, or "Abdul Scam," produced convictions for bribery of a U. S. senator, city mayor, and more.
Illegal sports betting increased after casinos opened in Atlantic City.
Since casinos were introduced in Atlantic City, about 1 00 of 250 restaurants closed. Gamblers eat in casinos and
don't bother to patronize neighborhood businesses.
From 1973 to 1976, Atlantic City averaged 4,700 major crimes per year. In 1990, total major crimes stood at 14,416.
Two-thirds of these crimes occurred in the casinos.
In the first four years of casinos, pickpocket arrests went from 15 to 1,247. During the same period, purse snatchings increased 48 percent, shoplifting 342 percent, larceny from parked cars 347 percent, and larceny from buildings 430 percent. From 1978 to 1984, crimes in all categories increased dramatically: violent crimes 59 percent, crimes against property 76 percent, rape 54 percent, aggravated assault 76 percent, and robbery 49 percent.
The average population in Atlantic City dropped more than 25 percent since casinos arrived.
The city has ten times the number of homeless people on the streets compared to other similar sized cities.
(Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p37-38)
ASTRONOMICAL LOTTERY ODDS: “A lottery ticket buyer is 5 times more likely to be eaten by a shark, 7 times more likely to be struck by lightning, 6,000 times more likely to be hit by a car, and 500,000 times more likely to die in an airline crash that to win a state lottery.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p43
POLITICAL PAYOFFS: “In 1995, the American Gaming Association was started in Washington, DC, as a lobbying arm of the gaming industry. Such agencies, along with gambling industry entrepreneurs, help create a public demand for more legalized gambling through shrewd marketing and classic political deal making. In 1994, the industry contributed $3.1 million to candidates and parties. It’s not surprising that gambling corporations are now listed among the top five interest-group contributors to political causes.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p52
St. Augustine said, "The Devil invented gambling."
John Calvin outlawed gambling in his Geneva under penalty of fines.
Martin Luther said, "Money won by gambling is not won without selfseeking and love of self, and not without sin."
John Wesley occasionally used lots to determine God's will, but he did not gamble.
In his sermons, the Puritan Cotton Mather condemned gambling as theft.
In 1699, Boston clergy called lottery agents "pillagers of the people."
(Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p55)
New Catholic Encyclopedia: “A person is entitled to dispose of his own property as he wills. . . so long as in doing so he does not render himself incapable of fulfilling duties incumbent upon him by reason of justice or charity. Gambling, therefore, though a luxury, is not considered sinful except when the indulgence in it is inconsistent with duty.”)
DIVINE LUCK?: “A forgotten sage once said, "Good luck is the lazy man's estimate of a worker's success." He was right. Both luck and laziness are nonbiblical, non-Christian ideas.
God has a plan for the universe. Good fortune is a blessing of God. In Isaiah 65:11-12, God said,
"But as for you who forsake the LORD
and forget my holy mountain,
who spread a table for Fortune
and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
I will destine you for the sword,
and you will all bend down for the slaughter."
Fortune comes from the Hebrew word Gad and means luck or good fortune. Destiny comes from the Hebrew word Meni meaning bad luck, the god of fate. Gad and Meni were pagan gods of good and bad luck.
Gad combined as Baal-Gad means "Lord of Luck" and was an integral part of ancient pagan worship of the idol Baal (Josh. 11:17; 12:7; 13:5). In Numbers 13:10, Gaddiel means "God of my luck." Faith in luck and faith in God are mutually exclusive ideas. Isaiah 65:12 promises judgment for those who worship or honor the false gods of luck.
To believe in luck is to believe that God does not exist. For if God does exist-an all-knowing, all-powerful, Creator God-then luck makes no sense. Things don't just happen. Nothing happens outside of God's will and disposition. So belief in God not only dispels any idea of luck, it also rejects any idea of chance.”
…Gambling is a kind of "secularized divination," which is based upon chance. The idea that events are disposed merely by chance is akin to superstition. Fyodor Dostoyevsky reminded us in The Gambler that gambling and superstition go hand in hand.2o From the lucky shirt and a certain way of holding the dice to the lucky lady standing at one's shoulder, gamblers look to unknown forces to guide their play.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?” Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p60-61)
THE BIBLE: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” (Prov 12:11)
IOLATED STEWARDSHIP: “Gambling also violates our stewardship of others. In Scripture we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18, 34; Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31). Winning at gambling, no matter how distantly removed by the economics of enormous jackpots, always comes at the cost of others. Winners always win less than losers lose. The winner's gain is always at the expense of many other people's pain.
You cannot gamble while arguing that you are being a proper steward of your God-given resources. It's impossible.
…Gambling in any form is a violation of God's moral will. First, we hold all our resources in trust, and we are accountable to God for their use. Gambling ignores this biblical principle by staking money on chance or luck.
Second, the amount of money wagered does not change the essential nature of the gambling transaction. Whether we gamble with a little or a lot, we still gamble. Small stakes gambling is a difference of degree not kind.
Third, whether we can afford to lose the money wagered is not a very sound test. This seems to suggest that it is morally acceptable for the wealthy to gamble but not for the poor to do so. This is a morally inconsistent position and one that is biblically indefensible.
Gambling is only one violation of biblical stewardship. Pastors need to preach total stewardship. It's more than tithes and offerings. Stewardship summarizes a Christian worldview.” "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p64-65)
WILLIAM TEMPLE: "The persistent appeal to covetousness is fundamentally opposed to the unselfish, which was taught by Jesus Christ and by the New Testament as a whole. The attempt (inseparable from gambling) to make a profit out of the inevitable loss and possible suffering of others is the antithesis of that love of one's neighbor on which our Lord insisted.” (quoted by Starkey, Money, Mania and Morals, p 103)
Serving God, Not Mammon: Is gambling a sin? Yes. Why? Because gambling is a biblically indefensible activity…
1. No justification for gambling can be found in Scripture, including the practice of casting lots.
2. Gambling appeals to luck and chance, disregards the sovereignty of God, and promotes pagan superstitions.
3. Gambling violates Christian stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, and it violates our stewardship of our relationship with others.
4. Gambling undermines a biblical work ethic and human reason and skill.
5. Covetousness, not godly contentment, is the chief end of gambling, which encourages greed, materialism, and the love
6. Gambling is a form of theft.
7. Gambling is potentially addictive.
8. In most cases, gambling is associated with a host of social and personal vices, thus violating God's command to avoid every kind of evil.
(Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p68)
THE BLACK HOLE: "With tourists for customers (like Las Vegas), it does not really matter that many players go broke, a mathematical certainty known as 'gambler's ruin.' However, when the casino is located in a closed community, it acts like a black hole, sucking the money out of the local population. Around the world, and throughout history, every society that has allowed casinos to cater to local customers has eventually outlawed gambling.” (I Nelson Rose, “Gambling and the Law: Endless Fields of Dreams,” Christian Social Action (July/August 1994): p6)
RISING BANKRUPTCIES: “In December 1995, the Detroit News reported that in the eighteen months following the opening of Casino Windsor across the river in Canada, gambling related bankruptcies in metropolitan Detroit increased an estimated fortyfold. In the Detroit area's Wayne County, prosecutions for writing checks with insufficient funds increased 67 percent in the months after the casino opened its doors.” Ron French, “Gambling Bankruptcies Soar,” The Detroit News, 3 Dec 1995, 1A)
UNPROFITABLE FOR GOVERNMENT: “John Warren Kindt, a commerce professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, estimated that a one-cent increase in local sales tax will raise more net revenue than legalized gambling. He says that for every dollar gambling contributes in taxes, taxpayers spend at least three dollars fixing streets, increasing police patrols, and treating compulsive gamblers.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p77)
UNCHARITABLE: “Even when a professional charitable gambling agency is honest, the amount that ends up going to the charities is usually quite small. Usually 50 to 80 percent of the amount gambled goes to winners; 30 to 40 percent may go as fees to the group operating the games. The charity might get 5 to 10 percent of the take.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p80)
ECONOMIC RACISM: “Statistically, however, it can be demonstrated that only a small percentage of Native Americans derive benefits from casino operations. A recent report by Native Americans in Philanthropy found that gambling on reservations has not yet significantly lowered high poverty rates among Native Americans nationwide, and that poverty has instead risen in the last decade. This finding seems to contradict both public perception of Native American casino ownership and arguments promoting reservation gambling.
It's not difficult to understand why Native Americans have so quickly embraced the casino culture. Some 24 percent live in poverty on reservations. The suicide rate is two times higher than for other nonwhites. They claim the highest high school dropout rate among nonwhites, and unemployment among Native Americans averages 45 percent.
However, the Native American windfall is not all that it appears. Non-Native Americans comprise up to 85 percent of the workforce in the 131 United States tribal gambling centers and claim most of the management positions. Tribes have lost millions to dishonest gambling consultants. Most of the money generated each year by tribal casinos goes to the large corporations that manage them. Some estimates indicate that as much as 65 to 85 percent of the profits at some tribal casinos ultimately goes to non-Native American, off-reservation sources.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p81)
BUSINESS RISK VS. GAMBLING: “Comparing gambling to any other business transaction is inaccurate and misleading. Work has intrinsic value, and the value of money is tied to the value of work. Gambling diverts people from useful labor. Money changes hands but with no exchange of material goods or services. Business, however, rests on the principle of fair exchange, value for value.
While business transactions promote reason and reduce risk, gambling celebrates chance and irrationality at the expense of reason. Business produces gain for the buyer and the seller, and the community benefits. Gambling produces nothing; the gambler loses, and the community is forced to absorb social costs. Only the game owner wins. In legitimate business, the total community always benefits.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p93)
BLACK HOLE: "Gambling produces no new wealth. Put 100 people together, legalize gambling, and let the action begin. When you return a week, a month, a year later, there will be no products created, no source of new wealth, only a redistribution of currency on an inequitable basis.” (Casino Gambling: The Myth and the Reality (Lansing, MI: Michigan Interfaith Council on Alcohol Problems, 1985), 9. Abt, Smith, and Christiansen, Business of Risk, 76-77)
CHARITY GAMBLING: “People argue that charity gambling is a necessary form of philanthropic support for nonprofit organizations. It's an odd position. If you wish to support the charity, why not just give to the organization directly? Why is it necessary to provide games, prizes, and chance in order to get people to give? The biblical pattern of 2 Corinthians 9:7 commands loving responsibility: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Nonprofit organizations that use gambling as a form of fundraising send the message that they're not effective at raising money by other means. If they must resort to gambling, they're saying something rather loudly about their programs and their constituency.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p104)
IDOLATRY: “In a culture that believes the universe began by chance, that our existence and our morality are nothing more than the luck of the draw, gambling is oddly logical. Gambling is a metaphor for the current cultural zeitgeist. It grows out of our cultural philosophy. We believe in a world of undefined chaos.
Gambling has become a surrogate religion-a pathological hope-a concession to life based on luck-an admission that there is nothing to life but determinism, fatalism, nihilism, Gambling is rabbit's foot religion. It's our postmodem paganism. It's idolatry.” (Rex M Rogers, “Seducing America: Is Gambling A Good Bet?”, Baker Books, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516, p141)
Ray Vander Laan, "The Crushing Weight" (magazine name lost): "The word gethsemane means "olive press" and symbolized the weight that Jesus carried as He went to the Cross...
A VALUABLE COMMODITY
When considering the symbolic meaning of the gethsemane, it's important to understand both the economic and religious importance of the olive and its oil in biblical times. Much of Israel was, and still is today, olive-producing. The olive was much more than food: Its oil was burned in lamps and served as a preserving agent and a lubricant for skin care. It had great value in daily life.
The process used to extract olive oil was a laborious one. Whole olives were put into a circular stone basin in which a millstone sat. A donkey or other animal was then harnessed to the millstone and walked in a circle, rolling the stone over the olives and cracking them.
The cracked olives were scooped up into burlap bags, which were then stacked beneath a large stone column - a gethsemane. The enormous weight forced the precious oil to drip from the fruit into a groove and on into a pit at the base of the gethsemane, from which is was collected.
The gethsemane and mill were large and expensive tools, and private citizens could rarely afford to won them. whoever controlled the equipment, the wealthy elite or government officials, had economic power over the local population. People had to pay steep fees in order to process their olives. The gethsemane and mill were a burden born by many, because olives were an economic mainstay of society.
The olive tree and its oil had even greater cultural importance as religious elements. The verb mashack -- from the same root word for messiah in Hebrew -- means "to be anointed with olive oil." Priests, kings and prophets were anointed with olive oil, indicating that they were gifted and called by God. So it was understood that the anticipated Messiah would be specially anointed with olive oil.
The tree also represented the purpose of the promised Messiah -- to renew Israel. When an olive tree gets old, it is cut down because there's too much trunk for the leaves to nourish. The following year, a new shoot comes out of the old tree, eventually producing new fruit and lots of healthy branches.
In Isaiah 5, God says to the unbelieving nation of Israel (paraphrased), "You didn't produce any fruit. But I was patient. I dug around you. I fertilized you. I kept you growing. And after awhile, I looked. There was still no fruit, so I cut you down." And then He says in chapter 11, "Behold, a new shoot will come out of the stump of Jesse and will become a new tree with new fruit."
The Jews believed that the new shoot, which was going to renew, restore and revitalize the nation of Israel, was the Messiah. The Messiah is the shoot or branch out of Jesse. If Jesus is the branch or stem, then we, as Gentiles, have been grafted in, according to the apostle Paul. That means our roots are the Jewish people. That's our stump. We can't exist and bear fruit without the Jewish roots. Second, it means Jesus is where we get life and energy.
But the key is the olives we produce. Paul says in Romans 11:21 (paraphrased), "If God cut down the natural tree, what do you think He would do to you who have been grafted in if you don't bear fruit?" Jesus came to be the new shoot for what reason? So we would have life to bear fruit.
The word for shoot or branch in Hebrew is of the same root as the word Nazareth: netser. The Bible says Jesus' parents went back to Nazareth that prophecy might be fulfilled: "He will be called a Nazarene." Therefore, a Nazarene is someone from "shoot town" or "branch town." Jesus came from Nazareth to indicate to us that He is the branch. And while on Earth, Jesus gave lessons and examples of how to be grafted into His Tree of Life.
Near the end of His life, while in northern Israel, Jesus said to His disciples, "Now, you go take on the gates of Hell." And then, as a great teacher, He said, "Let me show you how." Down He walked to Jerusalem, past little cities and towns, past all the crowds that had followed Him around. He got to Jerusalem and, after a week's ministry there, had His last supper. Then He went out to the garden of the olive press -- the Garden of Gethsemane. He got down on His knees and began to experience the weight of what was going to be laid on Him. That weight was so incredibly heavy that it squeezed out of Him His own blood. He was heavily pressed. This Jesus, who taught and preached and performed miracles and was raised from the dead, went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Laid on Him was the sin of the entire world."
A GETHSEMANE, OR OLIVE PRESS.
"When words lose their meaning, people will lose their liberty." ---Confucious
STEPHEN BENKO: "Gnosticism is very difficult to pin down, and even today there is much debate concerning its origin. [It was never a unified movement--Ed.]. All that can be said with certainty is that these people relied on inner knowledge (gnosis in Greek) as a guarantee of salvation, and they claimed that this knowledge came to them by way of a revelation other than the one contained in the Scriptures. They believed that the world was the creation of an evil god, and that material and physical limitations were the greatest hindrance of the soul in its upward thrust toward salvation." [This led to some being ascetics, other were libertines. --Ed.]
Traces of Gnostic heresies may be found in the NT, for example, in 1 and 2 Cor where Paul chastises his opponents for their "knowledge," or in 1 Tim 6.20 for a "falsly named Gnosis." Jude speaks of ungodly persons who 'secretly gained admission' where they 'pervert the grace of God into licentiousness,' and 'defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones...they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed.' ' These are blemishes on your love feast...;'" (See 2 Peter 2 also). (Stephen Benko, "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians," BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 72)
GALEN (anti-Christian Roman physician): “As a rule, men need to be educated in parables. Just as in our day we see those who are called Christians have gained their faith from parables. Yet they sometimes act exactly as true philosophers would. That they despise death is a fact we all have before our eyes; and by some impulse of modesty they abstain from sexual intercourse-some among them, men and women, have done so all their lives. And some, in ruling and controlling themselves, and in their keen passion for virtue, have gone so far that real philosophers could not excel them.” (TR Glover, The Conflict of Religions In the Early Roman Empire, (Boston: Beacon 1960), p160)
Seeking accomodation from the scientific community is not a new phenomena in Christianity. During its early years, Christianity was under attack by the philosophies as unscientific and relying too much on faith. (It is most assured that many Christians didn't --and don't-- have a lot of grounding and hence couldn't give an adequate defense).
CLEMENT (died c215) adopted Greek philosophy in the pursuit of theology, and his successor Origen left the philosophies for Christianity, and thereafter not even the best educated pagan could call Christian philosophy substandard.
EUSEBIUS quotes an unknown Christian who spoke of apostate Christians who would make the gospel subject to science and philosophy: "They [the Theodotians] have treated the Divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear. They have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have no known. They do not endeavor to learn what the Divine Scriptures declare, but strive laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be devised to sustain their impiety. And if anyone brings before them a passage of Divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or disjunctive form of syllogism can be made from it. And, as being of the earth and speaking of the earth, and as ignorant of Him who cometh from above, they forsake the holy writings of God to devote themselves to geometry. Euclid is laboriously measured by some of them; and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen, perhaps, by some, is even worshipped...they have laid their hands boldly upon the Divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them...either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit, and thus are unbelievers, or else they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and in that case what else are they than demoniacs? (Eusebius Church History 5.28, 13-19; cited in "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians, Stephen Benko, BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 146)
TERTULLIAN: "What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the Heretic. Our principles come from the Porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord is to be sought in simplicity of heart. I have no use for a Stoic or a Platonic or a dialectic Christianity. After Jesus Christ we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research. When we come to believe we have no desire to believe anything else; for we begin by believing that there is nothing else which we have to believe." (cited in "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians, Stephen Benko, BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 146)
TERTULLIAN: "So Tertullian fulminated against [scientific] heretics. No doubt many of the Christians whom he castigated would be considered church members in good standing today, but Tertullian sensed that the church was seeking a peaceful coexistence with, and a place in, Greco-Roman society. For him this meant an abandonment of primitive Christian values." (Stephen Benko, "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians," BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 147)
ANTI-CHRISTIAN CELSUS: "Celsus (early critic of Christianity) acknowledged that many reasonable Jews and Christians, unable to accept the notion that man was fashioned by the hand of God, tried somehow to allegorize the biblical story. But he contended that the Bible was incapable of beiing interpreted allegorically." (Stephen Benko, "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians," BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 149) (Interesting that a pagan can see this but some Christians can't!)
ANTI-CHRISTIAN CELSUS: "It did not surprise Celsus, therefore, that Christianity appealed mainly to the uneducated. He argued that intelligent persons were driven away by it, and only the stupid and common folk were attracted to it. Furthermore the Christians were narrowminded; they rejected the advice of educated, wise, or sensible people, and even considered such persons as evil. ...They substitued faith for wisdom, and they offered no rational arguments to support their claim that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus had been arrested, disgraced, and punished; yet the Christians merely cited these things as all the more reason to believe in him. These arguments failed to impress intelligent persons, and so the Christians sought out the sinner, the derelict, and the child. But would God send his son to sinners and not to those without sin? Why did Christians invite cheaters, thieves, burglars, poisoners, and grave robbers to their services when all other mystery religions invited only those who had purified themselves? Celsus maintained that, in their ignorance, Christians misunderstood the truth expounded by philosophers, such as Plato, and they 'vulgarly discuss fundamental principles and make arrogant pronouncements about matters of which they know nothing." When they wished to display their learning they dared not go into the company of intelligent men, but instead they showed off by going to market places, into crowds of slaves, and amongst companies of fools." (Stephen Benko, "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians," BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 152-3)
ANTI-CHRISTIAN CELSUS: "Celsus talked about 'the more reasonable Jews and Christians' who were ashamed of the simpler minds among them. He also knew some 'Christians who have made some progress in education' and at the beginning of his book he charged that only some among the Christians 'do not want to give or to receive a reason for what they believe.'" (Stephen Benko, "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians," BT Batsford Ltd, London, 1984, p 157)
*GOD, NATURE OF
But those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint Isaiah 40:31
He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End!
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and
The Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be...
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!
He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him, and
The leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him,
The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, and
The people couldn't hold Him!
Nero couldn't crush Him,
Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him, and
Donahue can't explain Him away!
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure.
His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and
His mind is on me.
He is my Redeemer,
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and
He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and
He rules my life!
I serve Him because His bond is love,
His burden is light, and
His goal for me is abundant life.
I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise,
The power of the powerful,
The ancient of days, the ruler of rulers,
The leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers, and
The sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.
And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size.
His goal is a relationship with ME!
He will never leave me,
Never forsake me,
Never mislead me,
Never forget me,
Never overlook me, and
Ever cancel my appointment in His appointment book!
When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!
He is everything for everybody, everywhere,
Every time, and every way.
He is God, He is faithful.
I am His, and He is mine!
My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world.
So, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, understand this...
He said it and that settles it.
God is in control, I am on His side, and
That means all is well with my soul.
Everyday is a blessing for GOD Is!
BARGAINING WITH THE GODS: “The nub of the (religious arrangement) was a
bargain: the devotees provided worship in the appropriate form for the gods, and
the gods in return looked after the material welfare of their worshippers…
this concept of a bargain with the deity is echoed by numerous Latin
inscriptions from throughout the area… recording bargains with the gods in
which the deity has performed his or her part, and the worshipper now performs
his or hers. These inscriptions reflect simultaneously both the Roman
practice of making vows to the gods on condition they perform a certain service,
and the local analogue…” (Robyn Tracey, The Book of Acts in its First
Century Setting, Vol 2: Graeco-Roman Setting, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994,
"Whatever you wish that people would do to you, do so to the, for this is the law and the prophets." --Mt 7:12
"What you hate, do not do to anyone." --Tobit 4:15 cited in E. P. Sanders' "Judaism, Practice & Belief, 63BCE - 66 CE," Trinity Press Int'l, pg 257)
"What a person would hate to suffer he or she must not do to others." --Philo, cited in E. P. Sanders' "Judaism, Practice & Belief, 63BCE - 66 CE," Trinity Press Int'l, pg 258)
"What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary thereof; go and learn it." --Hillel, Shabbat 31a (3 1a?) cited in E. P. Sanders' "Judaism, Practice & Belief, 63BCE - 66 CE," Trinity Press Int'l, pg 258)
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