Tuesday, March 27, 2007

John Price's book on Music

John Price, Old Light on New Worship (Avinger, Texas: Simpson Publishing Co., 2005). ca $15.99.

Jeff Jenkins of Lewisburg, Texas, recommended this book; and I have been delighted to read it. There is much to commend within its pages. Price is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Rochester, NY and a graduate of Trinity Ministerial Academy. He has done a thorough job of presenting the Reformed view on music and describing the Regulative Principle (what we would call prohibitive silence). He is well-acquainted with John Girardeau's work (found in Foy E. Wallace's book and online). He has done a good job of looking into history.

I have only had a chance to glance at the book since I arrived home from Ghana and went to the office yesterday (Mon., 03/26). I ordered the book before I left. I am glad I did.

Price notes that Luther regarded IM as an indifferent matter, but his colleagues Carlstadt and Melanchthon certainly did oppose it as sinful. I had always heard Luther called IM an "ensign of Baal." The other leaders of the Reformation belileved that the truth of the gospel could only be upheld within the context of a "biblically ordered worship." (They could not see IM in Christian worship either.) The other reformation leaders believed the central issue was the restoration of pure and spiritual worship according to the New Testament." (94. See the footnote: Carlos M. N. Eire, War Against Idols [Cambride University Press, 1986], 2, 195-233).

Sounds like us. Zwingli based his arguments on Scriptural principles and said that "only what Christ has explicitly commanded in His word should be part of the worship of the church" (94). Zwingli specifically applied this to the use of musical instruments. "Everything which is added to the true institutions of Christ is an abuse." Amen and amen.

Of course, Zwingli went to far and also forbade vocal music. Fortunately his edict to Zurich did not become the norm, which was unaccompanied congregational singing.

The book has much to commend it. Since I have not read it all, I cannot give it an unqualified recommendation. Reader beware: eat the fish and throw the bones away. But by all means, eat the fish.

I am considering writing a book on the music God desires in Christian worship. Should I?


Monday, March 26, 2007

Out of Africa

Dewayne and I have come home from our 16-day trip to Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa, where we were teaching in Ghana Bible College. It was an exhausting trip with 95 degree, humid weather most days. The 60+ students we taught, however, made the trip very successful and meaningful.

Ghana celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a free country while we were there. They have made remarkable progress since my first trip there in 1999.

Ghana Bible College has doubled its number of students but is in serious financial need. It takes about $70,000 to $80,000 per year to run this wonderful school that trains preachers for that part of the world. They need your financial help. If you can do anything to help in this matter, please contact me.

God bless,

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Problems with the Lost Tomb

When Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron get together to make a blockbuster, $4 million "documentary" about an old find and act like there is a radical, new, life-changing discovery of the bones of Jesus and his family, we must object with more than a little skepticism.

This tomb on Talpiot street, found in 1980 by Amos Kloner, with ten ossuaries (bone boxes) has been featured at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem for several years. The fact that the boxes contain names similar to those in the early family of Jesus (Joseph, Mary, Jesus) is really not that odd. These were very popular names and are found on several ossuaries.

Richard Bauckman of St Andrews University released a catalog of Palestinian ossuaries in 2002. Among the top ten names for males were both Joseph and Jesus. There are a total of 45 ossuaries from this period with the name of Joseph, 22 with the name of Jesus, and 42 with the name of Mary or Mariam. When you consider that these names appear even more often in other settings, it should not surprise us to find an ossuary with "Jesus, son of Joseph" and a Mary in the collective tomb. Finding boxes with these names on it does not mean that the family of Jesus of Nazareth has been found; it means that a Jesus, a Joseph, and a Mary has been found. Whether this Joseph and this Mary were married is not certain. Whether Mariam (thought to be Mary Magdalene) is here the wife of Jesus is only speculation.

But there is DNA evidence! DNA tests were only taken of the residue found in the ossuaries of Jesus and Mariam; they found that they were not blood kin. Jacobovici presumes Jesus and Mariam were married, but how do we know that? Could she not have been the wife of one of the other men? Since we don't have any indisputable DNA from the Jesus of history, how do we know this is Jesus of Nazareth? We don't. Jacobovici is speculating. It is at best a guess, and considering the evidence, an impossible one.

Why Jerusalem? Poor Galileans had little money to buy an expensive gravesite in Jerusalem, 75 miles away. Since there is no embalming, the body of Joseph (who likely died in Nazareth) would be stinking by the time they got it there.

Joseph's family of origin came from Bethlehem not Jerusalem. He lived and worked in Nazareth. Why would he be buried in Jerusalem?

If you research the web site, you will see that the "scholars" behind this film end up denying the resurrection and the ascension. They suggest the story behind the story is that the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and buried him again at the Talpiot family site.

How did they get the body past the guards (Mt. 27:65)?

Why did they leave the grave clothes (John 20:6)?

How did they keep it a secret from Jesus' brothers James and Jude, who died beleiving in a resurrection?

The whole idea is preposterous! It ignores the history given by eyewitnesses in the New Testament to embrace the wide-eyed, fantasy find of a bunch of filmmakers who admit they are not scholars.

This supposed find is as bogus as can be.


The Lost Tomb of Jesus???? Give me a break!

copy and paste this link into your web browser to view our response

This appeared on Tennessean.com Tuesday 2/27/07
Published: Tuesday, 02/27/07
BRENTWOOD — Phil Sanders, minister of Concord Road Church of Christ and Dewayne Bryant, an archaeologist and deacon at the church, will present a response tomorrow night to a filmmaker who claims to have discovered the tomb and bones of Jesus.
Filmmaker James Cameron and the Discovery Channel on March 4 will present “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” a documentary claiming that the Talipot tomb, opened in 1980, contained several ossuaries containing the bones of Jesus and his family.
The film calls into question the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus, suggests that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and that Jesus had a son named Judah. To back up their claims the filmmaker appealed to DNA evidence and statistical analysis.
The program by Sanders and Bryan in response to the claims starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at 7:00 PM at the church, located at 8221 Concord Road in Brentwood.
Bryant is a PhD candidate at Regions University and has more than 130 hours in graduate studies related to archaeology and the Old Testament. He currently teaches courses in archaeology and the Old Testament at Regions University in Montgomery, Ala. Bryant writes a monthly column for Think magazine, based in Brentwood and travels widely speaking to churches on topics relating to archaeology and the Bible.Sanders has an earned doctorate in Biblical studies and serves as an instructor at Nashville School of Preaching and Regions University, where he teaches courses related to the Passion of the Christ and Christian Evidences. Sanders appears weekly on a television program in the Nashville area and writes for Think magazine.