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Culture and Religion

Nation divided: Why unity is becoming a pipe dream

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Initial Context

The massacre in Las Vegas perpetrated by Stephen Paddock was the worst mass shooting in American history and the second worst terrorist attack on our soil. Yet it is more troubling that this event emerges as a sign of irreparable damage done to America. As the death toll rose from 50 to 60, so did tensions. Immediately, this tragedy was politicized by those on the left.

Failed Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton didn’t hesitate to politicize this tragedy in the same tweet where she says “politics aside.” But the troubling thing is not only her relevance but also the fact that liberals are all parroting the same calls for gun control. The left is uniting around their cause for gun control and the right is rallying to resist. All this before all the victims have been identified. All this before we have all the facts. And all this while people are still dying.

In our unique history, no matter how divided we are, we come together in times of hurt and suffering. After Pearl Harbor, America united to defeat the Japanese and Germans. On September 11th, 2001, the United States was attacked and shattered by Islamic terrorists. But on that night, we collected ourselves and came together as a country. We have a history of coming together for natural disasters both domestic and foreign. America is most powerful when united. However, recent events suggest that this same level of unity is a mere pipedream of what once was in the current and worsening political climate.

Mass shootings have been politicized for years. The vicious calls for gun control after the Las Vegas attack is nothing surprising, unfortunately. But let’s take into account some other recent events.

Natural Disasters

While in retrospect, Bush is criticized for his response to Katrina, America was united in trying to help. We were fortunate to go twelve years before the next major hurricane to make landfall in the US, yet Hurricane Harvey was politicized by those seeking global warming based policies. To the credit of both sides however, it could have been worse… like Puerto Rico. Donald Trump acted inappropriately as did the San Juan Mayor in an ultimate Twitter/Media war that America would have done better off without. You’d think or hope we’d come together in times of natural disaster but even the ability to unify in this area is fading.

Foreign Threats

Perhaps the other area where Americans historically come together is when we are attacked. Americans couldn’t unite over the Benghazi Terrorist Attack, because some people blamed a video(free speech) and not the actual terrorists(or their ideology). It is amazing how politicized Trump’s handling of North Korea is. Trump is shifting tactics because North Korea is upping the ante. Yet suddenly North Korea is responding to America’s aggression. Suddenly, this is Trump’s fault for addressing an issue that has long been kicked down the road by the inaction of his predecessors. When North Korea threatened Guam, liberals blamed Trump. And now they fancy calling Trump a dotard because Rocketman made it cool for them. It’s disgraceful that we can’t even appear united against a common enemy. We don’t have to all agree on the correct course of action, but we should all be able to agree that Trump isn’t the villain in this scenario.

Presidents

Both Trump and Obama are not going to unite this country. Obama didn’t care to because he had power in Congress and Federal Courts. And when he lost Congress he had executive orders. Under Obama’s leadership, America became more divided. Enter Donald Trump, who capitalizes off the division he creates. Trump did in fact campaign to all Americans, unlike Clinton. But Trump does not have the capability of exercising the self control needed to stay focused on priorities. No doubt the division will worsen under him. We have three or seven more years of Trump, in theory… But will 46 reverse the trend? Hard to say, but smart money is on “No”.

Perhaps a more dangerous threat is people’s inability to accept the election. Trump won fair and square, and Russia isn’t the reason. Democrats ran the one candidate who couldn’t win. Accept the results, blame the candidate, and run someone better next time around like Republicans did after Mitt Romney lost. But the resistance movement was immediately spawned and lingers to this day. This movement prevents us from uniting as a country to tackle key issues, and has facilitated a whole list of issues such as Antifa…

Problem and Solution

The true problem lies in our decreased reliance on our Creator. This core American value is being shelved. Why? Because people don’t want to acknowledge a higher power. If they acknowledge a higher power, then they are accountable to that higher power for their actions. Americans have an accountability problem which is why so many are blaming inanimate objects for the death of thousands of people every year. We prefer to seek scapegoat solutions as opposed to addressing the serious evil that can take place in human hearts. We prefer to blame mental illness rather than believe a person can be so evil. We blame an entire race for the actions of one or few.

In keeping with that theme, instead of identifying as children of God, all equal in His eyes, we identify in our own natural communities. We take pride in our race, as if being born with a set of genes is an accomplishment. Identity politics stems from pride in one’s own identity. But we aren’t identifying as one nation under God, we are identifying as white, black, gay, hispanic, etc.  Identity politics is deepening the divide in our nation. Both the left and the alt-right are guilty of this.

In continuing to rely on ourselves, some have replaced God with government. In one sense, it means people are relying on the government to take care of all their needs. Food, education, healthcare, abortion, birth control, the list goes on. On the other hand, people worship political champions as if they were anything other than sinful people. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Rand Paul all had/have a devoted following that replaces God in their lives.

This division and trend is sure to continue, unless we can unite. It may seem grim but there’s always hope. Failure to unite will further send America down a path of ugly politics and division. We can either unite as one nation under God, keep the division, or unite in complete rebellion of God. The former has the best results.

“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address

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Culture and Religion

Does Matthew 22:29-30 indicate Jesus was referencing the Book of Enoch?

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Does Matthew 2229-30 indicate Jesus was referencing the Book of Enoch

Extra-Biblical texts such as the Book of Enoch are often frowned upon by churches. Some see 1 Enoch as fake. Others say it’s a good historical reference but not inspired. The Ethiopian Bible includes it as scripture. Should we read it?

To understand the answer to this question, we need to consider three things. First, it was referenced as holy by many of the early church fathers, but was excluded from official canon. Second, Enoch is referenced multiple times in the Bible: Genesis 4 and 5, Luke 3:37, Hebrews 11:5, and Jude 1:14. Third, Jesus makes a statement in Matthew 22:29-30 that references “scripture” but what he is saying is only found in 1 Enoch.

Many who oppose the validity of Enoch say that it was written after the Book of Jude because the it includes the quote that Jude references, but fragments of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which most scholars date to before Jude was born.

The scripture in question is Matthew 22:29-30:

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Nowhere in the 66 Books of the Bible does it say angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. What did Jesus mean when he said “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures” in reference to the angels not marrying?

Here is 1 Enoch 15:5-7:

5. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. 6. But you were ⌈formerly⌉ spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. 7. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling.

Hmm.

As with anything regarding extra-Biblical texts, I must urge caution. Many who believe 1 Enoch is authentic refute the authenticity of 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch. Then, there’s the question of inspiration and protection of the text. Many Christians believe the Bible has been able to survive and flourish despite so many attempts to disrupt it is because it has been protected over the millennia. If that’s the case, why was Enoch not included the whole time?

The answer to this question, to those who believe in its authenticity, may be found in the first two verses of the manuscript.

1 The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be 2 living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. And he took up his parable and said -Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is 3 for to come. Concerning the elect I said, and took up my parable concerning them:

If Enoch is real, it’s meant for a later generation living in the day of tribulation. If it’s a fake, then it’s intended to deceive those in the end times. Either way, it’s understandable that it would not be included in most Bibles.

I tend to believe 1 Enoch is legitimate, but not to the point that I would teach on it. Not yet. Much more prayer and study is required before I would ever risk misleading anyone.

Nevertheless, the reference in Matthew 22 is compelling.

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Culture and Religion

The ‘church fathers’ and the Book of Enoch

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The church fathers and the Book of Enoch

This article first appeared in Torah Driven Life. The site appears to be down currently, so we’re including this page here for reference.

The following is a compilation of attestations to the authenticity and acceptance of the Book of Enoch as Scripture by the fathers of the early church. This list is, by no means, an exhaustive list of quotations from the church fathers, but is rather just skimming of the surface. At any rate, the case is clear, that even beyond Jude’s open reference to it, the Book of Enoch had some degree of acceptance in early Christianity.

Tertullian and the Book of Enoch

Tertullian, an early church father and founder of Latin Christianity, wrote a few positive things concerning the Book of Enoch. Tertulian writes as follows in his 2nd century work, On the Apparel of Women I 3:1-3.

“I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order of action to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either. I suppose they did not think that, having been published before the deluge, it could have safely survived that world-wide calamity, the abolisher of all things. If that is the reason for rejecting it, let them recall to their memory that Noah, the survivor of the deluge, was the great-grandson of Enoch himself; and he, of course, had heard and remembered, from domestic renown and hereditary tradition, concerning his own great-grandfather’s ‘grace in the sight of God,’ (Genesis 6:8) and concerning all his preachings; since Enoch had given no other charge to Methuselah than that he should hand on the knowledge of them to his posterity. Noah therefore, no doubt, might have succeeded in the trusteeship of his preaching; or, had the case been otherwise, he would not have been silent alike concerning the disposition of things made by God, his Preserver, and concerning the particular glory of his own house.

“If Noah had not had this conservative power by so short a route, there would still be this consideration to warrant our assertion of the genuineness of this Scripture: he could equally have renewed it, under the Spirit’s inspiration, after it had been destroyed by the violence of the deluge, as, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian storming of it, every document of the Jewish literature is generally agreed to have been restored through Ezra.

“But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord, nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that ‘every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired.’ (2 Timothy 3:16) By the Jews it may now seem to have been rejected for that very reason, just like all the other portions nearly which tell of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spake of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude.” (Jude 1:14-15)

Origen and the Book of Enoch

Origen appeals to the Book of Enoch as having the same canonical authority as he does the Book of Psalms. He writes as follows in De Principiis IV.

“But some one will perhaps inquire whether we can obtain out of Scripture any grounds for such an understanding of the subject. Now I think some such view is indicated in the Psalms, when the prophet says, ‘My eyes have seen your imperfection;’ (Psalm 139:16) by which the mind of the prophet, examining with keener glance the first principles of things, and separating in thought and imagination only between matter and its qualities, perceived the imperfection of God, which certainly is understood to be perfected by the addition of qualities. Enoch also, in his book, speaks as follows: ‘I have walked on even to imperfection;’ which expression I consider may be understood in a similar manner, viz., that the mind of the prophet proceeded in its scrutiny and investigation of all visible things, until it arrived at that first beginning in which it beheld imperfect matter existing without ‘qualities.’ For it is written in the same book of Enoch, ‘I beheld the whole of matter;’ which is so understood as if he had said: ‘I have clearly seen all the divisions of matter which are broken up from one into each individual species either of men, or animals, or of the sky, or of the sun, or of all other things in this world.’”

These quotations which he attributes to Enoch are not found in the Ethiopic text of the Book of Enoch, upon which our modern translations are based. There are, however, two sufficient reasons to believe that Origen is still quoting from the Book of Enoch. First, notice how Origen mishandled Psalm 139:16, “My eyes have seen your imperfection,” as if to indicate that God had imperfections which could be seen. Psalm 139:16 is more accurately translated, “Mine unformed substance Thine eyes saw.” (YLT) So it is very possible that Origen was simply incorrectly quoting passages that do exist in the Ethiopic text. Second, it is known from the discovery of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts of Enoch found in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran that there are large portions of text that are not present in the Ethiopic manuscripts. (See 4Q209 and 4Q211) So it is also possible that he was quoting from portions of Enoch that may have not been translated into the Ethiopic text, and hence have not survived to today.

Irenaeus and the Book of Enoch

Irenaeus, in his work The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 18, records a condensed retelling of Enoch 6-8. He does this without directly citing the Book of Enoch, yet the citation here is unmistakable.

“And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them: and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness, in that they brought them the virtues of roots and herbs, dyeing in colours and cosmetics, the discovery of rare substances, love-potions, aversions, amours, concupiscence, constraints of love, spells of bewitchment, and all sorcery and idolatry hateful to God; by the entry of which things into the world evil extended and spread, while righteousness was diminished and enfeebled.”

The Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas and the Book of Enoch

The Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas is frequently ranked among the Apostolic Fathers, i.e. the founding documents of gentile Christianity. This letter contains several blatant quotations from the Book of Enoch, citing it as “Scripture” in Barnabas 16:5-6.

“Again, it was made manifest that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were to be delivered up. For the Scripture says, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days that the Lord shall deliver the sheep of His pasture, and the sheep-fold, and their tower to destruction.’ (Condensed from Enoch 89:54-56) And it took place according to what the Lord said. But let us inquire if a temple of God exists. Yes, it exists, where He Himself said that He makes and perfects it. For it is written, ‘And it shall come to pass when the week is ended that a temple of God shall be built gloriously in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Similar to Enoch 93:6-7)

Given that the writing style of Pseudo-Barnabas does not always give exact quotes from the Scripures, but frequently handles them in a very midrashic style, it is probable that the author is giving a condensed paraphrase of the passages in question from the same version of Enoch we have in our possession today.

Athenagoras and the Book of Enoch

Athenagoras of Athens, in his work 2nd century work Legatio, claims to regard Enoch as a true prophet, and this same work relies heavily upon the angelic cosmology presented in the Book of Enoch.

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Conspiracy Theory

Ezekiel’s prophecy and the truth about false prophets

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Ezekiel's prophecy and the truth about false prophets

The topic of “false prophets” is often difficult to discuss on the internet in general and social media in particular because invariably whenever we warn of false prophets, we’re accused of being false prophets. Such is the nature of our struggle to live a faithful life and spread the Gospel. Naysayers and mockers are always there.

This topic in particular is a challenging one because it’s based upon a set of verses that some believe has been misinterpreted in most churches today. The verses in question are found in Matthew 24, verses 4 and 5.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

The standard interpretation says that there will be people in the end times who claim to be Christ. While this is also true, as we see regularly, an alternate (and in my opinion, much more credible) interpretation is that false teachers will come in the end times in the name of Jesus Christ and will lead their flocks astray.

The argument is all in how the context is understood. Most read it as people saying, “I am Christ,” as in they’re claiming to be Christ. But what I believe he’s saying is people shall come in His name saying that He (Jesus) is Christ, and then shall deceive many. It changes the risk factor for believers because it insinuates there are those who may be leading a church today who pretend to be teaching the Gospel but are actually preaching a self-serving version of it that still claims to be a message from our Lord and Savior but is actually a great deception.

Those who have seen or even been brought into the prosperity “gospel” may have a very clear idea of what I mean.

This video goes into much more detail about prophetic events told of in both the Old and New Testament. I strongly recommend watching it, if only to make you think about what’s happening in the world around us.

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