Newsletter 74, February 2004
Humor of Christ| | Cooking Oil for Burns? | Our Nation’s Founders and Christianity | Burying, Not Cremating, the Dead| Ten Super Foods You Should Eat! | Elephant Garlic | Origin of Nations | Book Review: Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War against Christianity | Book Review: Under the Influence, How Christianity Transformed Civilization | Book of Hebrews | Historic Phenomena and Theology of Nazarenes and Ebionites | Remembering Our Marriage Covenant
We often take ourselves too seriously. God and Christ are usually depicted as stern and humorless beings, but the truth is that God has a tremendous sense of humor. After all, He created man, and the things man does in defiance of God are quite humorous, Psalm 2:1-4, 37:12-13; Proverbs 1:24-26. Humor is essential for good health, for, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones,” Proverbs 17:22. Right laughter is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God, “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh,” Luke 6:21.
The first recorded laughter in Scripture is that of Abraham. God promised that Abraham would have a son through Sarah, through whom he would be the father of nations and kings. “Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” Genesis 17:17. Abraham was not being irreverent when he laughed at God’s promise. In God’s sense of humor, it was funny for Him to fulfill His promise to Abraham in such an unusual way. Sarah was past childbearing age, “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” Genesis 18:12. In line with God’s divine humor, the promised child was named Isaac (Yitzak, meaning “laughter”). The blessings of God through His chosen people originated with, and continued to be marked by, humor and laughter.
There is a misuse of humor. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks,” Ephesians 5:3-4.
The fruit of the Spirit is marked by “love, joy, peace,” Galatians 5:22. With God’s Spirit, we can rejoice in the Lord always, even when times are tough. “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart,” Psalm 32:11. “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in His salvation,” Psalm 35:9. “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, the Lord be magnified,” Psalm 40:16. “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness,” Psalm 97:12. “Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord,” Psalm 105:3. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice,” Philippians 4:4.
A 127-page book explaining Christ’s humor, The Humor of Christ, by Elton Trueblood, is a real gem. Throughout the Gospels, Christ employed humor for the sake of Truth and many of His teachings, when seen in this light, become brilliantly clear for the first time. Irony, satire, paradox, and even laughter, are demonstrated in the teaching of Christ, which refute the false idea that our Savior was a somber, sad individual. Instead, He used humor to illustrate God’s Truth. The Appendix gives thirty humorous Gospel passages for further study.
Trueblood maintains, correctly, “Any alleged Christianity which fails to express itself in gaiety, at some point, is clearly spurious.” Our problem is that we take ourselves too seriously. That is why we have difficulty seeing the humor of Christ.
For example, we may, erroneously, conclude that Matthew 23 is only a searing condemnation of the Pharisees. Not so. Jesus showed how ridiculous the scribes and Pharisees were, those who made broad their phylacteries and enlarged the tassels of their garments, so as to be seen by others as “righteous” men, verse 5. Vanity is one human failing that is essentially laughable. Acceptance of Christ’s wit and humor is not irreligious or blasphemous, but essential for us to understand His message.
You may order a photocopy of The Humor of Christ, for a suggested donation of $6 postpaid, from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
The ancient Waldensians, and the Protestant reformers, did not pussyfoot around. They called the Papacy the Antichrist. In 1120, twenty years before Peter Waldo, the Waldensespublished a book, “What Is Antichrist?” Reinerius, inquisitor and persecutor of the Waldenses, reported, “They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon.”
Many Seventh-day Adventists today are ashamed of their denomination for its former condemnation of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, books like Babylon Mystery Religion have been downplayed by the Church of God.
We have reprinted J.A. Wylie’s classic 1888 book, The Papacy is the Antichrist, 36 pp., suggested donation $5 postpaid. Wylie compares the teachings of Jesus with the Papacy, and shows how they are totally opposite. It is Christ versus Antichrist. Which one will you choose?
Responding to our last Newsletter’s article, “Home Remedies,” someone said that cooking oil is not good for burns. It is not the first choice, but Dr. Barbara Boss reports: “At a caravan rally many years ago there was a teenage boy who got very bad third degree burns over a large area of his body playing with bonfires. He was in agony and all I could find was cooking oil, so I poured it over the burnt areas, clothes and all, in order to exclude air. Hospitals were a long way off. The day following he was seen by a doctor and came to thank me. He did not look the worse for wear or in pain either. Paraffin gauze used in hospitals works on the same principle.
“In my experience, pouring cold water on a burn makes it worse. I have an ointment made from Vaseline and PABA which will not even leave a blister if applied early enough. Used that when a gas bottle exploded in a chap’s face once — worked like a dream!”
I taught school for twenty-five years, and ten of those were in the Southern United States. When I began to teach, prayer was offered in class every morning. Now that people who oppose Christianity have infiltrated both Canada and the USA, it has all had to stop. Jesus never forced His beliefs upon anyone, and so neither dare we do it. Our countries are now filled with people who reject Jesus as the Savior of mankind, and thus we all pay the price of being denied the freedoms we love.
Patrick Henry is not quoted properly in our present day school texts. “Give me liberty or give me death” is not exactly all that he said or why!
Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But in current textbooks the context of these words is deleted.
Here is what he actually said:
“An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”
These sentences have been erased from our textbooks. Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote this: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were orthodox, deeply committed Christians? The other three all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention. It is the same Congress that formed the American Bible Society. Immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of Scripture for the people of this nation.
Consider these words that Thomas Jefferson wrote on the front of his well-worn Bible: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.” He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role. Jefferson also declared, “God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Jefferson’s words thunder against today’s liberals who argue for the separation of religion and state. When President, he said, “No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I, as chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”
Consider these words from George Washington, the Father of our Nation, in his farewell speech on September 19, 1796: “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Was George Washington a Christian? Consider these words from his personal prayer book: “Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.” Washington said, “True religion affords to government its surest support.”
Consider these words by John Adams, our second president, who also served as chairman of the American Bible Society. In an address to military leaders he said, “We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” He also said, “Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” Again, Adams said that this nation was founded on “the general principles of Christianity.”
Benjamin Franklin, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: ‘that God governs in the affairs of men.’ And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” In March, 1778, Franklin said, “A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district — all studied and appreciated as they merit — are the principle support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.” Franklin said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
How about our first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay? He stated that when we select our national leaders, if we are to preserve our Nation, we must select Christians. “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress, later a congressman from New Jersey, and President of the American Bible Society, “Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.”
John Witherspoon, the only clergyman in the Continental Congress, “He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”
Benjamin Rush signer of the Declaration of Independence, “The only foundation for . . . a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
John Dickinson, signer of the Constitution and a member of the Continental Congress, said, “The rights essential to happiness. . . . We claim them from a higher source — from the King of kings and Lord of all the earth.”
In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”
John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was the sixth U.S. President. He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role. On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, “A patriot without religion, in my estimation, is as great a paradox as an honest man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men? Can he be a patriot who, by an openly vicious conduct, is undermining the very bonds of Society? . . . The Scriptures tell us righteousness exalteth a Nation.”
Daniel Webster, one of our most distinguished leaders, said, “Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be entrusted on any other foundation than religious principle, not any government secure which is not supported by moral habits . . . .Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States, reaffirmed this truth when he wrote, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
William Holmes McGuffey was author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the “Schoolmaster of the Nation.”
Listen to these words of Mr. McGuffey: “The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our notions on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.”
Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number one was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the scriptures: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies, is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3; and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Proverbs 2:3).” For over 100 years, more than 50% of all Harvard graduates were pastors!
It is clear from history that the Bible and the Christian faith were foundational to our educational and judicial system. However, in 1947, there was a radical change of direction for the Supreme Court. It required ignoring every precedent of Supreme Court ruling for the past 160 years. The Supreme Court ruled in a limited way to affirm a wall of separation between church and State in the public classroom.
In the coming years, this led to removing prayer from public schools in 1962. Here is the prayer that was banished: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee. We beg Thy blessings upon us and our parents and our teachers and our country. Amen.”
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that Bible reading was outlawed as unconstitutional in the public school system. The court offered this justification: “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could and have been psychologically harmful to children.”
Bible reading was now unconstitutional, though the Bible was quoted 94 percent of the time by those who wrote our Constitution and shaped our Nation and its system of education and justice and government.
In 1965, the Courts denied as unconstitutional, the right of a student in the public school cafeteria to bow his head and pray audibly for his food. In 1980, Stone vs. Graham outlawed the Ten Commandments in our public schools. The Supreme Court said this: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments were to have any effect at all, it would be to induce schoolchildren to read them. And if they read them, meditated upon them, and perhaps venerated and obeyed them, this is not a permissible objective.”
Should we educate our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments? James Madison, a primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: “We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.” Madison said, “Religion [is] the basis and foundation of Government,” and “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
Today, we are asking God to bless America. But, how can He bless a Nation that has departed so far from Him? Prior to September 11, He was not welcome in America.
President Andrew Jackson said, “the Bible, sir, is the rock upon which this Republic stands.” If our Republic throws away this Rock, it will certainly fall.
Revisionists have rewritten history to remove the truth about our country’s Christian roots. You are encouraged to make copies, and share with others, so that the truth of our nation’s history will be told.
— adapted and expanded from an article by Morvel Klause, from the Internet
Note: One of the best sources of information about our constitutional, moral, and religious history, is Wallbuilders, led by David Barton. You may wish to visit their website, www.wallbuilders.com.
Alvin J. Schmidt, in his book, Under the Influence, How Christianity Transformed Civilization, pp. 70-74, gives some surprising information why early Christians were opposed to cremation. It was a continuation of their belief in the sanctity of human life, and this reverence did not stop with death.
Romans commonly cremated their dead, and Christians strongly opposed cremation. Like their Hebrew ancestors, they saw cremation as a pagan custom, cruel and violent, to the dead instead of respectful, for the deceased. Yes, Christians knew that God was able to resurrect the dead in any condition, but their Roman persecutors deliberately cremated Christian martyrs to show their utter contempt for them. Surviving Christians would try to gather up the fragments of their brethren from the flames, so that the deceased could “sleep in peace,” an expression found on many epitaphs in the Christian catacombs.
The modern word, “cemetery,” comes from the Christian term for a burial place, koimeterion, a Greek word meaning “dormitory,” where people sleep. With the growing influence of Christianity in the Roman Empire, cremation became rare by the third century, and by the fourth century it had almost disappeared. In the eighth century, Emperor Charlemagne made cremation a capital crime. Not until the nineteenth century did cremation make a comeback into Western societies, and only then by liberals who patterned their thought after the Romans, who denied the Biblical doctrine of the resurrection.
Contrary to centuries of Christian opposition to cremation, more and more Christian denominations, even Sabbath-keeping ones, are allowing cremation. Before 1930, cremation in the United States was considered “bizarre.” In 1996, about 22% of the dead in America were cremated, estimated to rise to 40% by 2010.
Instead of following the Bible injunction to return the dead to the ground, Genesis 3:19, people today are sprinkling the ashes of their loved ones on the ocean, shooting them into space, etc. One firm in California mixes ashes with gunpowder and packs them into fireworks; an Iowa firm will, upon request, put the ashes into shotgun shells. Among non-Christians, cremation is an open denial of the resurrection. Among professing Christians, cremation is deemed acceptable because their church has caved in to prevailing views. The Roman Catholic Church long opposed cremation, but in 1963 made an about-face, even producing an order of worship for the practice. In 1969, the Church of England followed suit, as did many other churches. Some of these same churches now accept divorce, abortion, and homosexual “marriage” as well.
Schmidt concludes his report against cremation (page 74): “Johann Heermann (1558-1647), the hymn writer, captured this Christian sentiment in his hymn, ‘O God, Thou Faithful God.’ In one stanza he wrote:
And let my body have
A quiet resting-place
Within a Christian grave;
And let it sleep in peace.
“The early Christians were mindful of Christ’s promise: ‘For a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned,’ (John 5:28-29). They heard Him say ‘graves,’ not ‘urns’.”
Our Study No. 181, “Cremation Versus Burial — Which?” received perhaps the harshest criticism of any article we have ever published. Subscriptions to the Giving & Sharing Newsletter were cancelled, and I was called a “Pharisee.” A well-known Sabbatarian website answers a question about cremation with the ridiculous statement that the Bible is silent on cremation. He who is willingly ignorant, let him be ignorant. I will stick with the Bible. You may view more scriptures against the practice of cremation at www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/ 181.cremation.html. Following the Bible example, and respecting the dead, leads us to honor our dead with a decent burial.
Health advice usually tells you what you should not eat. While there are some “do not’s,” there are also some “do’s.”
Nutrition Action Healthletter gives the names of bad foods sold today. They also recommend good foods to eat. You may wish to subscribe to their excellent health newsletter: 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009.
These good folks recommend ten foods we should eat. (1) Cantaloupe. A quarter of this delicious melon supplies almost an entire day’s supply of vitamin A and C. (2) Sweet Potato (not to be confused with yams) are one of the best vegetables you can eat. (3) Skim or low-fat milk, (4) Salmon or other fatty fish (such as rainbow trout) are rich in omega-3 fats that can help reduce risk of heart attacks. (5) Oranges are rich in vitamin C. (6) Broccoli has vitamin C, carotenoids, and folic acid. (7) Whole-grain Bread is higher in fiber and a dozen vitamins and minerals than gooey white bread. Check our website for information on ordering a Bosch Bread Machine, www.giveshare.org/Health. (8) Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and carotenoids. (9) Beans are inexpensive, low in fat, and rich in protein, iron, folic acid, and fiber. We like garbanzo, pinto, black, Navy, kidney, or lentils. (10) Spinach or Kale are loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, calcium, and fiber. Steamed with a little butter or olive oil, they are a feast.
If these ten great foods are part of your diet, you may enjoy better health. Write for our free book, Biblical Health and Healing for more information.
Allium ampeloprasum, also known as “elephant garlic,” is a huge variety producing bulbs weighing up to one pound or more, eight times the size of normal garlic. It is delicious in salads, stews, and soups because of its slightly milder flavor. Elephant garlic is hardy and can be fall planted in most parts of the country to produce enormous yields next summer. It must be winter mulched in extreme temperatures. Our friends at Nichols Garden Nursery developed this variety, and have spent forty years selecting for both hardiness and flavor.
We highly recommend this excellent garlic variety! Please contact: Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 Old Salem Road, NE, Albany, OR 97321, Phone: 800-422-3985, www.nicholsgardennursery.com. They have lots of other herbs and vegetable seeds.
In Search of … the Origin of Nations Traces the peoples of the world to their origin as set out in the mysterious Table of Nations contained in Genesis 10. The book runs like a detective story, weaving through centuries of human history; wading through thousands of texts; data is analyzed and logical deduction utilized to realize the obvious conclusions.
The book explores the descendants of Ham, Japheth and Shem. Where are the descendants of Cush, Nimrod, Assur, Elam today? Who are the American Indians, Eskimos, Maoris, Thais, Bantu and Serbians etc?
Details: 8"x11", 492 pages. Includes 15 riveting chapters, over 700 items in the bibliography, 29 charts, 10 maps, glossary, index. For further details, go to www.originofnations.org.
Order this book:
$25.00 (US) in North America postpaid, or $31.00 overseas postpaid, from
Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
— by Richard C. Nickels