29 March 2013

Forget Easter: Celebrate Jesus-in-Hell Day instead!

File:Harrowing of Hell.jpg
The Harrowing of Hell

Now that Jesus is dead (they killed him in the Philippines earlier today), we can celebrate what happened after he died.

Happy Jesus-in-Hell Day!

Most Christians (well, Protestants, anyway) don't know this, but Jesus went directly to hell after he died.

Really, he did. It says so in the Bible.
He [David] seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. Acts 2:31
The above quote is from the speech that Peter gave on the day of Pentecost -- you know, the day that believers spoke in languages they didn't understand and acted like they were drunk.

So it must be true. (If you can't trust a drunken Pentecostal preacher who was also the first pope, whom can you trust?)

There are a couple of other references to Jesus's day in hell by someone who claimed to be Peter, but wasn't. Here's what the forger of 1 Peter said about it.
Christ ... went and preached unto the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 3:19
For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead. 1 Peter 4:6
So Jesus preached the gospel to the dead people "in prison" -- that is, to the people in hell.

And then there's this from Ephesians (another forgery, this time attributed to Paul).
Christ ... descended first into the lower parts of the earth.  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. Ephesians 4:7-9
So Jesus descended "into the lower parts of the earth" -- which, as we all know, is where hell is. 

Of course, Catholics know all this. They are reminded every time they attend mass or say the rosary, because it's right there in The Apostles' Creed.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell....
So get out and celebrate Jesus's descent into hell. 

Here are some pictures that Jesus took during his visit to inspire you.

The first is a black and white photo of a very tall Jesus meeting Adam and Eve as they come out of their demon-mouth house.

Here's one, on Saturday night, after Jesus put on his transparent robe.

And here's Jesus in a hurry to meet the ladies of hell.

Here's Jesus delivering the sermon from hell.

And here he is Sunday morning before heading back to the tomb.

So to hell with Easter. Celebrate Jesus-in-Hell Day instead.

24 March 2013

Who is the most blessed woman (according to the Bible)?

Since tomorrow (March 25) is The Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought I'd ask this question: Who is the most blessed woman according to the Bible?

To Catholics, of course, there is only one answer: Mary

Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Annunciation
And there's good biblical justification for their belief, from the annunciation story in the Gospel of Luke.

You remember this story, right? The one where the angel Gabriel stopped by Nazareth to visit the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and say the rosary with her?

OK, not really. He stopped by to tell her that the Holy Ghost would soon be getting her pregnant the way he did her cousin Elizabeth. But during his visit he did manage to come up with the first half of the "Hail Mary."
The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:26-28
So Mary, then, according to the angel Gabriel and the Gospel of Luke, is "blessed among women."

But is she the most blessed of all women? Are there any other women in the Bible that can compete with her blessedness?

How about Jael, for example?

Gregorio Lazzarini: Jael and Sisera
In Judges 4, Jael offers food and shelter to a traveler (Sisera), saying "turn in my Lord ... fear not." Then after giving him a glass of milk and tucking him in, she drives a tent stake through his head.

For murdering her guest while he slept, Jael is called "blessed above women." (Hail Jael, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women....?)
Blessed above women shall Jael ... be, blessed shall she be above women ...
He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples ... there he fell down dead. Judges 5:
So surely Jael is in the running for the most blessed of all women.

Or how about Judith?

Caravaggio: Judith Beheading Holofernes
Judith's story is not found in Protestant Bibles. But it is in Catholic ones, which include the Deuterocanonical Book of Judith.

Here's the relevant story from chapter 13, where Judith, with God's approval and assistance, decapitated the drunken Holfernes while he slept.
They were all overcharged with wine....
Holofernes lay on his bed, fast asleep, being exceedingly drunk...
Judith stood before the bed praying...
Saying: Strengthen me, O Lord ... that I may bring to pass ... that it might be done by thee...
When she had said this, she ... loosed his sword...
And ... she took him by the hair of his head, and said: Strengthen me, O Lord...
And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head...
And ... she ... delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet. Judith 13:2-11
For cutting off the head of a drunken man as he slept, Judith is blessed by God "above all woman."
Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth.
The Lord ... directed thee to the cutting off the head ... Thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men ... for ever. Judith 13:23-25
So, I don't know for sure, of course, but I think Judith wins the prize. She is "blessed ... above all women upon the earth."  Whereas Jael is "blessed above women" so I think she deserves the silver. And poor old Mary is only "blessed among women", so she gets the bronze.

Maybe Pope Francis should institute a new feast: The Feast of Judith, Blessed Above All Women and demote Mary to just one of the several blessed women.

13 March 2013

2 Machabees 4:29-42: A Jewish mob kills Lysimachus, the sacrilegious fellow

In the last apocryphal killing, God killed Andronicus (the sacrilegious wretch) for supporting the wrong candidate (Menelaus) for Jewish high priest.

The next high priest was Menelaus's brother, Lysimachus.
Menelaus was removed from the priesthood, Lysimachus his brother succeeding. 2 Machabees 4:29
There were rumors among the Jews that Lysimachus followed after his brother's sacrilegious ways.
Now when many sacrileges had been committed by Lysimachus in the temple by the counsel of Menelaus, and the rumour of it was spread abroad, the multitude gathered themselves together against Lysimachus, a great quantity of gold being already carried away. 4:39
So the mob killed Lysimachus by throwing stones, clubbing him to death, and (worst of all) throwing ashes upon him.
Wherefore the multitude making an insurrection, and their minds being filled with anger ... caught up stones, some strong clubs: and some threw ashes upon Lysimachus ... the sacrilegious fellow ... they slew. 4:40-42
And although the text doesn't say so explicitly, it's pretty clear that God inspired and approved of this killing (even if he didn't assist in it by throwing ashes himself).

10 March 2013

Continuing the Apocryphal killings: God killed Andronichus (that sacrilegious wretch)

Now that the SAB book is out and the pre-orders have been shipped, it's time to get back to the Apocryphal killings.

As you might recall, the last killing was Antiochus, whom, according to 1 and 2 Machabees, God killed in three different ways (with an incurable bowel disease, by smashing him with stones and dismembering him, and by scaring him to death). .

The next story is about a man named Andronicus.

Andronicus was an official of King Antiochus who got involved in a dispute between two rivals for the Jewish high priesthood. One claimant was Onias, God's favorite; the other was Menelaus, a cruel tyrant and savage beast, who stole gold out of the temple and gave it to Andronicus.
Menelaus ... having the mind of a cruel tyrant, and the rage of a savage beast ... having stolen certain vessels of gold out of the temple, gave them to Andronicus. 2 Machabees 4:23-32
Menelaus asked Andronicus to kill Onias.
Menelaus coming to Andronicus, desired him to kill Onias. 4:34a
Which he did.
And he [Andronicus] went to Onias ... and immediately slew him. 4:34b
When King Antiochus (who according to 1 Machabees 1:16 was already dead) heard about Onias's death, he was "moved to pity" and "shed tears, remembering the sobriety and modesty of the deceased."
Antiochus therefore was grieved in his mind for Onias, and being moved to pity, shed tears, remembering the sobriety and modesty of the deceased. 4.37 
So God inspired Antiochus to kill Andronicus (the sacrilegious wretch) as his deserved punishment.
And being inflamed to anger, he [Antiochus] commanded Andronicus to be stripped of his purple, and to be led about through all the city: and that in the same place wherein he had committed the impiety against Onias, the sacrilegious wretch should be put to death, the Lord repaying him his deserved punishment. 4:38

08 March 2013

Giving Ecclesiastes too much credit

In previous posts I've said that Ecclesiastes is the best book (and pretty much the only good book) in the Bible. And I still think that's true.

But I may have given it too much credit. There's a lot of crazy stuff that I passed over when highlighting Ecclesiastes. (Once you decide that a biblical book is "good" it's easy to read it like a believer and ignore the bad stuff.)

Here, for example, are some verses that were previously unmarked in the SAB that Steve Weeks recently pointed out to me.  (I've since added them to absurdity.)

The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. 4:5
Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9:8
A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left. 10:2
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. 11:2
So take another look at the Bible's best book and see what you find. Are there other verses that you think should be highlighted? If so, let me know in the comments.

06 March 2013

Douglas Wilson's grammatical argument against gay marriage

I've seen quite a few of Doug Wilson's previous debates (See, for example, Collision: Are Doug Wilson's beliefs good for the world? ) and he always seems to come out on top. But not this time.

The debate took place on February 27 at the University of Idaho in Doug Wilson's (an my) hometown of Moscow. (Unfortunately I was unable to attend the debate since I was out of town at the time.)

The topic was "Is civil marriage for gay couples good for society?" and was moderated by Peter Hitchens, the late great Christopher Hitchens's obnoxious little brother.

Andrew Sullivan argued forcefully and persuasively in favor of the proposition, using his personal experience as a gay married man, while citing data showing the positive effects of gay marriage on society.

Doug Wilson began his argument with these words:
I would like to begin by thanking the Lord for how everything came together. (22:52)
And everything fell apart for him from there.

In his initial fifteen minute presentation, he presented two arguments:

1) If gays are allowed to marry then so will polygamists, bisexuals, first cousins, etc.

2) Gay marriage is grammatically incorrect.

The slippery polygamous slope argument is obvious (and silly) enough, but the grammatical argument requires a bit of explaining. Here's how Douglas Wilson put it in the debate: (36:31)
At a certain point, allowing for changes in the direct object actually changes the meaning of the verb. Andrew appears to agree with this, arguing for "monogamy as central to all marriage." Adding a third person would take away the central element, meaning that such marriages weren't really marriages, making the direct object  "two women", for example, instead of "one woman", means that the verb "to marry" has been altered.  
And, as everyone knows, when the direct object alters the verb, all hell breaks loose.

During the question and answer session, the second question to Doug Wilson was this: (1:24:29)
I listened with great interest to your fifteen minute opening statement, and I heard you drawing lines of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but I did not hear a single cogent argument for why Mr. Sullivan and his husband's behavior and marriage does not fit within the line that you would draw. And you have not answered the question and you haven't given any reason why civil marriage between gays is not good for society. Would you care to comment please?
Here was Mr. Wilson's answer:
Yes. I timed my opening comment when the light was good and when the light was not good up here, so I've got a little bit left, and I was addressing that in my conclusion, so I'm going to incorporate that into my five-minute close. Basically. So you're exactly right, that's the missing piece and I urge you to wait for it with bated breath.
To which Mr. Sullivan responded:
When the missing piece is the actual proposition to be debated? (laughter and applause)
"Is civil marriage for gay couples good for society?"
Is it unfair to ask you to answer that now? Why didn't you answer it in the beginning?
In the tradition that I was trained in the conclusion usually comes at the end of the argument.
This is the premise. This is the core of the argument; it's not a conclusion. If it's the conclusion, then you give me no way to engage it. Right? So you are actually shutting off the debate by keeping the key argument for the end.. 
No, it was the gentleman with the card saying "30 seconds left" that actually shut off the...
Well now you have all the time in the world to answer the man's question.
I'm happy to answer your question. The reason civil marriage is not good for society is that the changing of the direct object from a woman to a man when a man is considering marriage is that to change the direct object does more than just change the direct object, it changes the meaning of the verb. So the verb "to marry" is changed for all of us.We're not taking a house and adding an extra room, what we're doing is we're going into a new state of affairs to allow marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman is to open the doors to a dilution of what it means to marry at all. And I believe, and this is an area where Andrew and I agree, that an established social institution like marriage ought not to be messed with.
So it's all about direct objects, changing verbs, and adding an extra room to a house.

In his closing statement, Mr. Wilson finally presented a biblical argument against gay marriage. The killer argument that he was saving for last is this: Jesus married the church and the church, it turns out, is female.

Now that's a fine argument except that it fails Wilson's two-pronged test. Since there are many Christian churches, Jesus has many wives. Therefore polygamy is OK. And I don't even want to think about the grammatical implications of Jesus's multiple brides. It would change direct objects, as well as verbs, and require many room additions in the polygamous kingdom of heaven.

Doug Wilson lost the debate because he couldn't present his real views on gay marriage, so he had to talk about slippery slopes, direct objects, and Jesus's marital relations.

You see, Doug Wilson believes in the Bible, and the Bible is clear on gay marriage. Here's what it says:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13
Doug Wilson believes that this verse is a commandment from God that should be applied today. If he had his way there would be no gay marriage because there would be no gay people. They would all be executed as God commands.

Here is what his church's website (Credenda Agenda) says on the subject.
The civil magistrate is the minister of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer (Rom. 13:4). God has not left his civil minister without guidance on how to exercise his office. The Scriptures set forth clear standards of judgment for many offenses. Capital crimes, for example, include premeditated killing (murder), kidnapping, sorcery, bestiality, adultery, homosexuality, and cursing one's parents (Ex. 21:14; 21:16; 22:18; 22:19; Lev. 20:10; 20:13; Ex. 21:17).
God commands the judge to evaluate the crime rather than the criminal. If the crime is one for which God requires death, then death must be the punishment. Your eye shall not pity. … Thus, the Bible teaches that pity is not an option where God has decided the matter. The magistrate, God's minister, is to faithfully execute justice according to God's standard, not man's.
Doug Wilson had to censure his own views on homosexuality during the debate. That's why he lost so badly. It's hard to defend a belief that you dare not express.