Autumn traditions for 2014 – 6 Bonfire night

After the gathering of witches and calling the spirits on the 31st of October, people loved to be busy with the dead on the following days, celebrating All Saints and All Souls people want to frighten the spirits away. This, according many cultures can be done with making as much noise as possible and bringing flashy nights. On the other hand many find it necessary to bring the ‘sacred days for the dead’ to a good end by bringing all the death material back to dust by fire. At the end of the Autumn holiday or All Saints holiday bonfires may lit in several places.

Anti Catholic sentiment

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many there is also an anti-Catholic sentiment which found its origins in the English and Irish Reformations under King Henry VIII and the Scottish Reformation led by John Knox. The Act of Supremacy 1534 declared the English crown to be ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England‘ in place of the pope. Any act of allegiance to the latter was considered treasonous because the papacy claimed both spiritual and political power over its followers. The Scottish Reformation in 1560 abolished Catholic ecclesiastical structures and rendered Catholic practice illegal in Scotland.

Pius V and Elizabeth I

Pius V and Elizabeth I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having Pope Pius V wanting to depose Queen Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, he declared her a heretic and the servant of crime. The pope released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her, and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders. By this bull the queen found herself forced to have the believers choosing for the pope or for her, becoming part of the ecclesia anglicana, or Anglican faith. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England. By the Act of Supremacy of 1558 the governement managed to get back the control over the churches in the reign. By re-establishing the Church of England‘s independence from Rome, with Parliament conferring on Elizabeth the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Act of Uniformity of 1559 outlined what form the English Church should take, including the re-establishment of the Book of Common Prayer.

On the question of images, Elizabeth’s initial reaction was to allow crucifixes and candlesticks and the restoration of roods, but some of the new bishops whom she had elevated protested. The determination to prevent any further restoration of “popery” was evidenced by the more thoroughgoing destruction of roods, vestments, stone altars, dooms, statues and other ornaments.  Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, such as the pope.

A devout and militant Catholic

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. - National Portrait Gallery, London

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. – National Portrait Gallery, London

Travelling soldier—mercenary would be the wrong word, Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a devout and militant Catholic, brought in on a plan to blow up Britain’s Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. The family Fawkes with father Edward Fawkes (sometimes spelled Faux), a judicial court official, was required, under the state Church of England religion (now known as Anglicanism, with the Episcopal Church as its American branch), to swear an oath pledging that they were Protestants. Fawkes’s mother, Edith, like many other Catholics, put up a Protestant facade, but her nephew became a Jesuit priest and some of her relatives were recusants — English Catholics who refused to attend Protestant church services. When Edward Fawkes died, when Guy was eight, his mother showed her true sympathies by marrying another recusant, Denis (or Dionysus) Bainbridge, described by an acquaintance (according to the Gunpowder Plot Society) as “more ornamental than useful.” The family moved to a home near the village of Scotton in North Yorkshire. From that point on, Fawkes likely began to come in contact with devout Catholics who were working through official channels and also by underground means to safeguard and advance the rights of Catholics under the country’s increasingly entrenched Anglican regime.

St. Peter’s School in the city of York though having a nominally Protestant headmaster, John Pulleine (or Pulleyn), was likely a hotbed of Catholic resistance. One local noblewoman, according to Gunpowder Plot historian Antonia Fraser, called the school “Little Rome.” Fawkes, according to one source, married Pulleine’s daughter Maria and had a son, named Thomas, in 1591. Other early accounts of Fawkes’s life make no mention of the marriage, which could suggest that it was very short (perhaps with mother and child dying in childbirth) or that it did not occur at all.

Spain wanting to control Flanders and to invade England

Working as a footman to the Catholic nobleman Lord Montague, he may have met Robert Catesby, the originator of the Gunpowder Plot, through family connections during this period. Around 1593, he left England for Flanders (a Dutch-speaking region now divided among northern Belgium, France, and the Netherlands), which was then under the control of Spain, Western Europe’s great Catholic power, and he enlisted in the Spanish army. A military associate (quoted by David Herber) described Fawkes as

“a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and cheerful demeanor, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observance.”

Spain’s feared Armada had tried unsuccessfully to launch an invasion of England in 1588 trying to expand its power in the willingness to conquer the whole of Europe. Serving under the command of the Archduke Albert of Austria, Spain’s ally, Guy Fawkes fought for the Spaniards in a battle at Calais, in western France, in 1595, and he may have been wounded at the Battle of Nieuwpoort in West Flanders in 1600. It was at the continent that his assignments brought him the experience for blowing up things, like a procession of military wagons. In both these campaigns he came to the attention not only of his Spanish and Austrian commanders but also of a group of English Catholic nobles sympathetic to the Catholic side. He was recognized not only for military valour but also for his virtue and general intelligence.

From protestantism to Catholicism

After the establishment of the Church of England under King Henry VIII and a temporary and gruesome return to Catholicism under Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”), Protestantism had become well entrenched under Elizabeth, as even the Spaniards recognized. They gave Fawkes a polite reception, but they were moving in the direction of a permanent peace with England, and Fawkes’s mission went nowhere. Meanwhile King James, suspicious of the intentions of English Catholics, sharpened his anti-Papist invective and imposed new fines on recusants.

In Brussels after his Spanish mission, Fawkes was introduced by Sir William Stanley to Tom Wintour, a Catholic soldier. Wintour or Stanley informed Fawkes of a plot under consideration by English nobleman Robert (or Robin) Catesby, whose father had undergone long imprisonment for his Catholic affiliation, and whose own militancy had deepened as he fell on hard times. Fawkes seemed the perfect foot soldier for the plan’s execution. He knew guns and explosives well, and since he had been away from England for many years, his name and face were unknown to Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and the head of the English monarchy’s secret police.

Conspiracy

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

At an inn in London’s upscale Strand distric Fawkes, Catesby, Wintour, and two other conspirators met in May of 1604 to swore an oath for carrying out Catesby’s plan: to throw England into chaos by killing its king and lawmakers in a massive explosion, to install King James’s young daughter, Elizabeth, as Queen and arrange her marriage to a Catholic monarch from elsewhere in Europe, thus restoring a Catholic monarchy.  The Westminster district in London’s West End was a crowded warren of streets and businesses at the time, and Fawkes/Johnson attracted little notice as he was installed as caretaker of an empty cellar of an adjoining building. By early 1605 the plotters had begun to fill the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. To disguise it they covered it with iron bars and bundles of kindling, known in British English as faggots. They had to replace the powder as it “decayed” or went stale.

November the 5th

Finally a date for the explosion was set: November 5, 1605, when King James, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons would all be in attendance in the same chamber. The Powder Treason began to unravel on the night of October 26, with the delivery of an anonymous letter to a Catholic nobleman, Lord Monteagle, advising him to concoct an excuse to avoid the opening of the Parliament session on November 5. Monteagle informed Sir Robert Cecil of the letter’s contents, and Cecil informed the King. Continuing uncertainty over who wrote the letter, together with signs that pointed to its being a forgery, have given rise over the centuries to theories that the Gunpowder Plot was devised not by Catholic militants but by Cecil himself, with the intention of permanently crippling Britain’s Catholics in the ensuing uproar. In this version of events (promoted in recent times by Francis Edwards), Fawkes and Catesby were double agents. The preponderance of historical opinion holds that the Treason was a genuine terrorist plot, but the debate continues.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Whatever the case, the cellars beneath the Parliament buildings were searched on the night of November 4, and Fawkes was discovered, along with the gunpowder. Described as a very tall and desperate fellow, he gave his name as John Johnson. King James, according to Fraser, ordered that “the gentler Tortures are to be first used unto him et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur [and so by degrees proceeding to the worst],” although torture was illegal in England at the time, and had been since the signing of the Magna Carta, the 1215 document that restricted the power of the English kings. Fawkes was hung from a wall in manacles and probably placed on the rack, a notorious device that slowly stretched a prisoner’s body until he lost the use of his limbs. After two days, Fawkes gave up the names of his coconspirators, all but one of whom were tracked down and executed or killed. Prior to his execution by hanging in Westminster’s Old Palace Yard on January 31, 1606, Fawkes was barely able to sign his own name on a confession. After dying on the scaffold, he was drawn and quartered.

Restrictions harsher than any they had yet experienced were placed on English Catholics by King James, and November 5 became a national holiday in England, known as Firework Night, Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Day. In the colonial United States it was celebrated as Pope Day, featuring a ceremony in which the Pope was burned in effigy, but the holiday was gradually absorbed into the Halloween festivities that occurred a few days earlier. Guy Fawkes Day evolved away from its roots in Britain, where the targets of the fire might include contemporary figures despised by the public. As part of a group of anti-terrorist measures, the cellars of the Houses of Parliament are still searched by guards each year before the legislature opens in November.

The execution of Guy Fawkes' (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

The execution of Guy Fawkes’ (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

 

Remembrance night of terrorism acts or ‘bonefires’ as cleansing ritual

An effigy of Guy Fawkes, burnt on a Guy Fawkes Night bonfire

Celebrations are held throughout the United Kingdom (including non-Catholic communities in Northern Ireland), and in some other parts of the Commonwealth. In the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, 5 November is commemorated with bonfires and firework displays, and it is officially celebrated in South Africa.*

Non religious people love to have a remembrance of the fires in which bones were burned. The “banefire” was the place were the dead were brought together to be burned so that no deceases could spread. It is the sheol or hell spoken of in the Bible, which was at the Biblical times a place outside the cities were the fire was kept burning day and night so that in case of a serious infection the spreading of the decease could stopped soon enough to avoid further deaths. Also the ones (bane) had to undergo a fast decay, which could be done by a fire.

In the ancient and present druid religions, bonfires were and are still held between 31 October and 5 November to celebrate Samhain and to burn the bones of the slaughtered livestock they had stored for the winter months. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. In several pagan circles the tradition of the bonfire is till kept alive. Some modern day Druids and Pagans see bonfire night as a significant celebration to end the harvest festival. In Belgium and Ireland they are mostly lit on the 31st of October. In those countries they are seen as a reaction against those who are religious and believe in Christ and/or in One Creator. Christian symbols are burned to give a sign to abolish them and with it the faith in such symbols or in what it represents. The burning cross should give a clear visible sign  to every one of how they hate the figure of Jesus Christ and everything around it. Pernicious weeds, diseased material is put on the bonfire to show how man can conquer the bad things in nature and how he can be stronger than the natural things which surrounds him. Lots of people find it a nice way to show the gods of nature and the bad spirits that they can control the earth and can frighten any spirit which they do not want to have around them, because if they would come close , they (man) would be there to put them in the fire.

For sure Christians do neither have to celebrate terrorism acts nor papal celebrations, nor feasts for making souls afraid or for giving gods a sign. Participating in such festivities as a sign of anti-catoliscism or a as sign of anti-protestantism would not give a sign of openness to other believers or other Christians and of forgivingness for what had happened in the past.

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* In Northern Ireland, the term “Bonfire Night” can refer to the Eleventh Night celebrations of 11 July. Like 5 November, this Bonfire Night also has its roots in the sectarian struggle between Protestants and Catholics. It celebrates the Battle of the Boyne of 1690, in which the Protestant William of Orange defeated the Catholic James II. The 23 June Bonfire Night in Ireland has its origins in a religious celebration and originally featured prayers for bountiful crops. {“Bonfire repair bill revealed”. BBC News. 15 July 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2011.; Haggerty, Bridget. “St. John’s Eve in old Ireland”. Irish Culture and Customs.}

 

Preceding articles:

  1. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
  2. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend
  3. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 3 Black Mass, Horror spectacles and pure puritans
  4. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God
  5. All Saints’ Day
  6. All Souls’ Day
  7. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 5 People, souls and saints in the news

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  • This Day in History: October 30th- A King, His Wife, and The Act of Supremacy (todayifoundout.com)
    Pope Clement feared Queen Katherine’s powerful nephew The Holy Roman Emperor right up the road a lot more than the King of England across the ocean, so he put off dealing with the situation.
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    The Protestants in the realm who thought they won a major theological victory were sorely disappointed, because the King deviated very little from traditional Catholic doctrine or ritual. Henry just wanted to be the boss – and to have access to all of the Church’s vast riches in his kingdom, which he plundered with great gusto.
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    How the King James Bible Came About
  • 2000 years of Christianity : what happened? – Part IV – 1200AD – 1600AD (biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com)
    1549: Book of Common Prayer released – At the death of Henry VIII, the archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, moved forward with the English reformation. Images were removed from churches, private confessions to priests were discontinued, and the clergy allowed to marry. But mass was still said in Latin. So Cranmer moved to create a liturgy that was pleasing to Protestants as well as Catholics. The book of common prayer was born.
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    1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland – A Scottish clergyman and writer who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation, founded the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, helping to write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church in Scotland called “the Kirk”.
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    With the sale of indulgences, the reformation would officially begin at the hand of Martin Luther and the likes of Ulrich Zwingli. Protestantism which spread quickly even with heavy opposition from the Catholic church, even leading to wars between the two groups, would also give birth to the Anglican Church in England, a separate entity from the church in Rome. While Calvin’s teachings were soaked in by Protestantism, a counter reformation was underway inside the catholic church which did not reform many of its earlier teachings. While the Jesuits traveled on missions programs with spain and portugal as they extended their land overseas, many reformers such as Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were executed for their beliefs – but Protestantism could not be stamped out, and would become one of the largest sects in Christianity – distinctively different from Catholicism, although borrowing and having many of its roots in the teachings of Rome.
  • Repost for Today (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
    The king had declared himself Head of the Church in England and had repudiated its spiritual allegiance to the Pope. The suppression and spoliation of the Religious Orders followed, but the Knights of St. John were not at first included in the general ruin. In 1539, two knights of the English Tongue, Blessed Adrian Fortescue and Ven. Thomas Dingley, a nephew of Sir William Weston, Grand Prior of England, were martyred on Tower Hill for denying the Royal Supremacy. By Letters Patent 7th July, 1539, Henry reminded the knights of the English Tongue that he was a Protector of the Order : and it was his will that in future every appointment must be confirmed by him, and that he was to receive the first year’s revenue of the office.
  • The Fallibility Of Papal Infallibility (psalm115three.com)
    if papal infallibility has only been exercised twice, how can Catholic apologists claim that the canon of scripture, Christ’s deity, the Trinity, etc. have also been infallibly declared? How can they claim that some rulings of Popes and councils are infallible, while others aren’t, without having a reasonable and consistent standard by which to make such a distinction? For example, if Pope Pius IX’s Immaculate Conception decree is infallible, why wouldn’t Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam decree, which errs repeatedly, also be infallible? Both decrees were issued by Popes, both decrees define doctrine, and both decrees use authoritative language. Or when the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatizes transubstantiation, why is that accepted as infallible, while the same council’s offering of indulgences to those who participate in a Crusade and “exterminate heretics” isn’t accepted as infallible? Catholics are unreasonable and inconsistent in how they define papal infallibility.
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    The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons
    Some Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine and true while Catholics are deemed invalid.
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    The self-righteous Christian may try to engage others in heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. With these individuals, the ideal of loving within the mystical body of Christ gets twisted into something more like negative attention seeking, stemming from an unresolved personal issue.
  • Douthat: Conservatives Will Take Their Ball and Go Home if Francis Changes “Their” Church (religiondispatches.org)
    If the church had been evolving doctrine in a more gradual, holistic manner over the past several decades, the changes being proposed now wouldn’t seem so dramatic. But a pair of popes—John Paul and his long-time doctrinal henchman Benedict—conspired to freeze the natural development of Catholic teaching. They took uber-conservative readings of key issues, like the ordination of women and the “intrinsically disordered” nature of gay Catholics, and then declared them virtually infallible, so that any future evolution was by its very nature heretical.To conservatives, Catholic doctrine has become like a game of capture the flag—if you can hold onto the flag long enough, you win, regardless of the advisability of the original teaching.
  • Biography : Robert Catesby (writedge.com)

    Robert Catesby is a well known figure in English History. He was born in 1673 and died in 1705 at the young age of 32. He was the son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth and Anne Coughton. Catesby was directly related to the Richard III through his father. He was 6th in the line of succession.

    Catesby’s father was a staunch Catholic and a prime supporter of the Jesuit mission. His religious belief led to his arrest in 1580. Richard was only 8 years old at that time. His father was tried along side Lord Vaux and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham, for harboring of a Jesuit, Father Edmund Campion. This arrest and trial had a traumatic effect on Richard who grew up as a strong supporter of the Catholic mission.
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    Despite his religious inclinations Catesby was held in high esteem by both Catholics and Protestants and was part of the glamorous circle that surrounded the court. This affluence and popularity played a great part in protecting him from the rigors of recusancy.

    When Queen Elizabeth I fell ill in 1596, as a precautionary measure Catesby and some of his friends from his circle namely John Wright, his brother Christopher and Francis Tresham were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

  • Death by Quill, the Parliamentary Act of Attainder (englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com)
    Thomas Cromwell simply did what Thomas Cromwell was highly regarded for. He drafted a law forbidding the foretelling of the monarch’s death, filing Acts of Attainder against the Holy Maid of Kent and her inner circle. How can one be convicted for violating a law before it actually became a law? Obviously, that mattered not. Parliament enacted sentence as judge and jury. Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent and five men close to her subsequently condemned, they all were executed at Tyburn — problem solved.
  • Could We Please Have Better New York Times Columnists?: Historical Lack-of-Literacy Ediiton (delong.typepad.com)
    the sixteenth-century Catholic Church lost England not because Popes condemned Henry VIII Tudor’s marriage to Ann Boleyn as adulterous, but because Pope Pius V rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act:
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    Pope Pius V, in Regnans in Excelsis, rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act. He commanded Catholics on pain of excommunication to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I Tudor. Regnans in Excelsis declares that it is not the Crown-in-Parliament that decides upon the line of succession to the throne of England, but the Pope.
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Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend

Death, fossils and pumpkins

National Fossil Day, established to promote the scientific and educational values of fossils, on Wednesday of the second full week in October may perhaps been overlooked by many, though they would love to look into the death beings this and the coming month. there was in some countries even a Chucky, the Notorious Killer Doll Day (celebrated annually on October 25).

In many countries October is also the month of the pumpkin. In America it is even one of America’s favourite dessert which gives it it’s own special day.  October 21 annually celebrates National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day and fall is the perfect season to enjoy this delightful and delicious dessert.

In certain countries at the end of the month there is a “National Knock Knock Joke Day.” Annually celebrated on October 31, it is a holiday for jokesters of all ages to share their knock knock jokes throughout the day. But at night many go out to bring ‘ogre’ jokes. The want to bring the shudder onto others. Several people on the 31st of October love to get the creeps for fun. In Belgium such ‘fun’ started already this weekend in the amusement parks. This year some people were a little bit disillusioned or undeceived because since 1921 we had the warmest October weekend and the sun was present for a longer time than usual. On television we could see the many special attractions for ‘Halloween‘.

Ancient Celtic feast still popular today

An ancient Celtic feast gets a lot of attention also by people who call themselves Christians. They do not seem to bother that they join in such a heathen or pagan festival. Coming from the time people were frightened of evil spirits, strange animals and strange natural effects, they would dress up in costumes and make noise in the streets in order to make the spirits go away. When Catholicism was brought into our regions the church had to face a very strong traditional holy day. In fear not getting the people to their religion they took over a lot of the Celtic festivals in their religion and gave them an other name. The Spanish and French explorers brought Roman Catholicism to what is now the United States in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and took with them those pagan rites, imposing them on the local population. Later many Irish people settling in the North of America brought their end of Summer festival tradition with them.

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Ireland and Scotland the inhabitants celebrated the end of Summer on the 31st of October and called it Samhain or Calan Gaeaf.  The 31st of October was also the eve of the new year in both Celtic and Anglo­Saxon times and was the occasion for one of the ancient fire festivals when huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spir­its. The date was connected with the return of herds from pasture, and laws and land tenures were renewed. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister sig­nificance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Hal­loween was thought to be the most favour­able time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.

In about the year 388, the devil was said to be so enraged at the piety of St. Patrick that he assailed the saint with a whole band of witches in Scotland. The story goes that St. Patrick fled to the river Clyde, embarking in a small boat for Ireland. As witches cannot pursue their victims over running water, they flung a huge rock after the escaping saint, which fell harmlessly to the ground, and which tradition says now forms Dumbarton Rock. {Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology: Scotland}

The belief in magic which appears to have been common in Scotland until a late period was taken with the sailors to other regions far away from the homeland. In the pages of Adamnan, Abbot of Iona (ca. 625-704C.E.), St. Columba and his priest regarded the Druids as magicians, and he countered their sorcery with what was believed to be a superior celestial magic of his own. The actions of Druids was kept alive and they continued to make up stories which many people believed.

In the 17th century while education and even scholarship were comparatively common at this date in Scotland (more common in fact than they were in contemporary England ), the great mass of Scottish people shared abundantly their sovereign’s dread of witches and sorcery. Protestant reformer John Knox, who was accused by the Roman Catholic Church for having by sorcery raised up saints in the churchyard of St. Andrews, when Satan himself was said to have appeared and so terrified Knox’s secretary that he became insane and died. Knox was also charged with using his magical arts in his old age to persuade the beautiful young daughter of Lord Ochiltree to marry him.

The efforts of Knox and his associates had brought about momentous changes in Scottish life, but if the Reformation rejected certain popular beliefs, Presbyterianism (the particular form of Protestant Christianity that came to power in Scotland) undoubtedly tended to introduce others. For that stern Calvinistic faith that now began to take root in Scotland nourished the idea that sickness and accident were a mark of divine anger. This theory did not cease to be common in the north till long after King James’ day. {Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology: Scotland}

Three boys on porch steps cutting faces in pum...

Three boys on porch steps cutting faces in pumpkins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Immigrants to the U.S., Scots and Irish liking to control the witches and ghosts, introduced the Halloween customs that became popular in the late 19th century. Mischief-making on this occasion by boys and young men included overturning sheds and outhouses and breaking windows, and damage to property was sometimes severe. In later years, the occasion has come to be observed mainly by small children, who go from to house, often in costume, demanding “trick or treat” (the treat, often candy, is gene given and the trick rarely played).

A common symbol of Halloween is the jacko’-lantern (the name possibly was derived from that for a night watchman). It is a hollowed-out pumpkin carved in the appearance of a demonic face and with a lighted candle inside. In Scotland a turnip was used, but the native pumpkin was substituted in the U.S.

The tradition to pull grotesque faces or grin (Scottish verb, “to girn”), may find its origin in the name of a medieval fiend, the last shadow of some Teutonic or Celtic deity of unlovable attributes.

All Hallows’ Eve

Pomona who scorned the love of the woodland gods Silvanus and Picus, but married Vertumnus after he tricked her, disguised as an old woman. – Nicolas Fouché, c. 1700

All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day) may even found its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds and wood nymph, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain“, which comes from the Old Irish for “summer’s end”. It is thought that in this liminal time the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) can more easily come into our world and be particularly active. {Monaghan, p.41; O’Halpin, Andy. Ireland: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press, 2006. p.236}

In Druidism, and/or Wicca picked the belief of Samhaim being a Celtic Death God was accepted as valid, but this is one of the most tenacious errors associated with Halloween. No such God ever existed.

Witchcraft and, more commonly, sorcery, malevolent magic, appear to have been practiced in the earliest historical and traditional times in Scotland. It is related that during the reign of Natholocus in the second century there lived in Iona a witch of great renown, so celebrated for her marvelous power that the king sent one of his captains to consult her regarding the issue of a rebellion then troubling his kingdom. The witch declared that within a short period the king would be murdered, not by his open enemies but by one of his most favored friends, in whom he had most special trust. The messenger inquired the assassin’s name. “Even by thine own hands as shall be well known within these few days,” replied the witch.

The pagan observances influenced the Chris­tian festival of All Hallows’ Eve, celebrated on the same date. By the late 1990’s many secular sources such as newspapers and television programs had picked up the error of the Samhaim god and propagated it widely. It is now a nearly universal belief, particularly among conservative Protestants.

Gradually, Halloween became a secular observance, and many cus­toms and practices developed. In Scotland young people assembled for games to ascer­tain which of them would marry, during the year and in what order the marriages would occur. Many Halloween customs have become games played by children, but the last few years adults are again participating more.

Modern-day Samhain

Modern-day Samhain is the day when many Wiccans believe that their god dies, later to be reborn. [Wicca is a Neo-pagan, Earth-centered religion.] For those witchcraft practitioners and for many Satanists Samhain is not a god of death; it actually began as a yearly observance of the death of a god.

There may have been a little known character named Samain or Sawan who played the role of a very minor hero in Celtic mythology. His main claim to fame was that Balor of the Evil Eye stole his magical cow. His existence is little known, even among Celtic historians. He was a hero, not a god. It is likely that he was named after the end of summer celebration rather than vice-versa. {Isaac Bonewits, W.J, Bethancourt III, a.o.}

The Irish English Dictionary, published by the Irish Texts Society, defines Samhain as follows:

“Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered.” {Patrick Dineen, “An Irish English Dictionary” (Dublin, 1927), Page 937}

Scottish Radiance writes about Samhain:

“The Celtics believed, that during the winter, the sun god was taken prisoner by Samhain, the Lord of the Dead and Prince of Darkness…On the eve before their new year (October 31), it was believed that Samhain called together all the dead people.” {Scottish Radiance, “The Story of Halloween,” at: http://www.scottishradiance.com/}

Ignorance around Halloween

Most people are ignorant of what Halloween is all about and for that matter don’t care. They often excuse their childish attitude of going up so much in this festival, by saying it is just for fun for the kids. Strangely enough they try to frighten their kids and later when their child is afraid of a spider, of the dark or something else, they say to it not to be silly, though they forget they created the fear for such things.

College students dressed up for Halloween.

College students dressed up for Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several Americans have grown up trick or treating, not knowing exactly what it means ‘to shoot some one’ ‘or ‘to kill some one’ and not knowing what it was all about, like many in Europe do not know it any more. In several countries there are also church communities which do not mind having haunted houses even in the attic of their little country church or in their parish hall.

In Belgium lots of kids go from door to door, like on the evening preceding Epiphany (twelve days after Christmas) or on ‘three kings’ (January 6 feast of Epiphany) wanting to get as much candy as they can get. This time they say “Trick or treat”. You can wonder why their parents learned them the “trick” as a (usually idle) threat to perform mischief on the home-owners or their property if no treat is given to them.

Practice of souling

This practice of going from door to door came from the “practice of souling” – going from door to door on or about All Souls Day to solicit gifts of food in return for prayers for the dead – evolved from a pagan ritual that was practised all over Europe, possibly as early as the 10th century. In the 14th century it was mentioned by Chaucer as a common Christian tradition. It is still commonplace in many Catholic countries, notably Ireland, where soul-cakes are left out for the departed. In several southern and northern European countries also food and candles are left on the graves to please the dead.

The first reference to the practice under that name in England is John Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, 1779:

“On All Saints Day, the poor people go from parish to parish a Souling, as they call it.”

The tradition is that the dead could come out of their graves when they would not find enough for them to live decently in their underworld. If the living would forget them or not give them enough they would come to punish the living. So the living would avoid such punishment by the dead by buying themselves out.

Dressing up and pleasing the dead

In modern times people like to dress up for Halloween and All Hallows’ Day in all sorts of frightening figures with preference to the darker figures and in characters from the underworld, like all sorts of devils. Children and adults alike are made afraid that the devils will catch them and bring them to an underworld where they shall be tortured for ever and burn in hell.

On the night of the last day of October many wear a most evil, horrible, grotesque, rubber mask and have in their hands a pitchfork. Then they go round willing to have the visited home-owners to believe the souls of the dead returned to their original homes, there to be entertained with food. If food and shelter were not provided, these evil spirits would cast spells and cause havoc toward those failing to fulfil their requests.

In the past centuries sacrifices were offered on this night to the dead spirits because it was thought they visited their earthly dwellings and former friends. But seeing it still happening in the 21st century we only can wonder if they really would not believe such a thing, why do they still do it?

It is known that there was a prevailing belief among all nations that at death the souls of the good men were taken possession of by good spirits and carried to paradise. Likewise the souls of the wicked men were left to wonder in the space between the earth and the moon, or consigned to the unseen world, underneath the earth, where unending fire was waiting for them. These wandering spirits were in the habit of haunting the living… But there were means by which ghosts might be exorcised.

To exorcise these ghosts, that is to free yourself from their evil sway, you would have to set out food and provide shelter for them during the night. If they were satisfied with your offerings, they would leave you in peace. If not, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you.

Fellowship with the devils

In modern day Satanism and Witchcraft covens, the 31st of October is the day when Satan himself comes to “fellowship” with his followers.

Central to Satanism was the idea of magic and that extraordinary miracles, if not performed by God in answer to the prayer of one of his servants (i.e., a Christian), had to be accomplished by the devil in cooperation with someone who had made a pact with the devil. On the 31st of October those going around from house to house want to let the other believe they have a pact with that devil so they can arrange thing with the devil for the good but also for the bad.

Once the idea of the pact became commonplace, it was but a short step to the notion of an organized community of devil-worshippers. Some substance was provided by the small pockets of paganism that had not succumbed to the church’s evangelical efforts. {Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology: Satanism)

Satanism had plainly declined by the end of the 1970s; however, in the mid 1980s reports that it had merely gone underground began to surface and the last two years in our village and in some other places in Flanders ritual meetings where the ‘Books of Satan’ (Satanic Bible) were read by ‘clergymen of Satan’ and a sort of Black Mass (a parody of the Roman Catholic Mass) was celebrated in the fields and in the woods. No real infant was been offered, but the sacrifice of an infant-puppet on the bonfires, and the invocation of Satan for the purpose of working malevolent magic (sorcery) was presented in many places.

Throughout the ages many changes may have occurred, but one thing has stayed the same, the practice of giving an “offering” is still kept. Many may say they do it under the name of fun but what is the real meaning for them deep in their heart? Is it so different a practice than in the previous centuries? We do not believe so.  It is still the same as in the old days.

In many parts of the world it is true that even Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, but is it not high time that Christians do think about it seriously?

It may well be that these solemn customs are less pronounced in favour of a more commercialized and secularized celebration in other regions, this also should not have Christians taking part in it.

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 Preceding article:  Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

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Find also to read:

  1. Holidays, holy days and traditions
  2. The imaginational war against Christmas
  3. Halloween custom of the nations
  4. The Soul not a ghost

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  • 5 Things You Never Knew About Canadian Thanksgiving (hellobee.com)
    Canadian Thanksgiving began in 1578 (43 years before American Thanksgiving) as a feast to thank God for the harvest. However, it didn’t have a set date until 1957. We have a 3 day weekend, while most Americans have 4 days.
    +
    Though a dessert-table staple, pumpkin pie differs in Canada. Ours is spicy-sweet, with ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, while typical American pumpkin pie is sweeter and often contains custard. Or so I’m told. Correct me if I’m wrong (either sounds good!).
  • The Ultimate Pumpkin Recipe List: 56 Recipes for Fall (followinginmyshoes.com)
    Everything mentality that all grocery stores and Pinterest embrace this time of year.  And, I’m not just a fan of pumpkin flavored coffee, baked goods and treats … I love pumpkin chili and soup and, at least back in my “pre-grain” free days, pumpkin pasta dishes.  Oh, Mamacita!  “Bring it all to the table” is my mantra — hence, the Ultimate Pumpkin Recipe List you see today.
  • Fall’s Golden Days (homeschoolmosaics.com)
    Fall is a time in our home to catch our breath and hold on…everything starts, school is amped up and running, and we are just trying to get used to our new schedules, hoping I have the brain power to remember we need dinner. We are hoping to implement some Sabbath rest weeks into our school year to give us respite…but, right now, we are nose to the grindstone. I thought it might be fun to share some lesser known holidays for October…maybe you can find one to color your month, bless someone else, or just create a memory together.
  • Halloween Pet Safety Tips (lakeside.com)
    Get special dog treats for Halloween to steer them away from Halloween candy! Children’s candy can be a toxic temptation for pets. Dogs love chocolate, but chocolate does not love them. It contains theobromine which is toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. A few bites of milk chocolate which contains the least amount can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Baking chocolate contains the most — even the smallest amount can kill a dog.
  • The Perfect Pair: Halloween and The Hot Glue Gun (blogs.walmart.com)
    As a working mom of two crazy little boys, I don’t get the chance to flex my crafty muscles as often as I’d like, but I try to make it a priority for Halloween. For my oldest son’s first Halloween, I convinced my mom to knit him a brown bear costume. My husband went to the UC Berkeley, so she trimmed it in gold as a nod to the Golden Bear mascot.
  • 35 Ways to Make Your Halloween Party Food Ghoulish (tipjunkie.com)
    Halloween is the perfect time to get creative with treats, and these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats are no exception. They even come with a free printable tag so they are perfect for gift giving. These will be the hit of any Halloween party! {{high fives}}
  • baby halloween costume images (zeehd.com)
  • Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Witch Hats (berries.com)
    How do domestic goddesses (and gods) throw fabulous Halloween parties? The easy way, of course. And nothing’s easier, or more fabulous, than these delicious strawberry witch hats. They’re inspired by our witchy Halloween collection.
  • Will Food Allergy Hysteria Destroy Halloween? (vice.com)
    What would Halloween be without candy? Well, an organization known as FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is trying to find out. This group is putting forth an effort to raise awareness about how soul-crushing Halloween is for children with serious allergies by starting the “Teal Pumpkin Project.” As they state on their site, “The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies—and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.” They are encouraging people to hand out non-food gifts this year, as well as painting your pumpkins teal to signify to trick-or-treaters that you’re doing so. Teal, as we all know, is the official color of food allergy awareness. Their site even offers suggestions as to what kind of non-food items you can provide for children, some of which include: playing cards, kazoos, stickers, coins, and bookmarks. Sure, these items definitely beat getting raisins or—god forbid—an apple. But the problem is, these items are not candy.

Interpreting the Scriptures (Part 5)

We would consider that in many cases intentionally certain doctrines where presented to be taken by people as the rules to follow. Throughout history many were looking to the freedom from error. We should trust the Words of God, like they are written down in the Holy Scriptures. There is no extra formula necessary, nor extra theological masters necessary to come to understanding. All may find inspiration in the Words like they are brought to us. We should allow that Word to have the full authority. We only have to be willing to open our ears to the Word of god so that it can come into our soul.

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To remember:
  • Church leaders in the 1500s did not think the average Christian was capable of  understanding the scriptures.
  • Leaders give doctrinal boundaries through which to interpret the scriptures.
  • Not teaching people to ask questions and find their own answers => teaching their own brand of theology.
  • Sacredness of bible = basis for seminaries and bible colleges.
  • God will speak to you through whatever
  • Biblical interpretation = not merely a task individuals perform => grows out of our participation in family of God in the broadest sense possible.
    +++
  • P1 – An overview of 3500 years of Bible interpretation (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
    Following the Reformation, we see the increasing emphasis upon rationalism and a de-emphasis upon revelation. Protestant theologians would come to adopt reason and philosophical investigation as part and parcel of Bible intrepretation – i.e protestant scholasticism.
  • P2 – An overview of 3500 years of Bible interpretation (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
    In addition to those men, movements and other men would come to shape how the wider scholarly worlds of Europe and America would come to develop an ever increasing critical stance towards the scriptures. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleirmacher’s epochal systematic theology: “On Religion, Speeches to its Cultural Despisers”, written in 1799, could be viewed as marking the unofficial beginning of modern liberal theology. As other Old and New Testament scholars began to apply 18th century rationalism and the then newly developed theories of evolution from Charles Darwins’ “Origin of the Species” in the 19th century, the Bible came to be increasingly viewed as a book of religion, fraught with errors, a book of men and not the Word of God.
  • Keeping a Simple Perspective on Biblical Interpretation (jacksonwu.org)
    Everyone can understand something. Seek the big idea of the text, but don’t assume it. It’s ok not to understand nuanced points. Keep at it. It may take days, weeks, even years. However, such perseverance frequently pays off in yielding the insights we want.
  • Five Ways Not to Teach Biblical Interpretation (Part 2) (jacksonwu.org)
    People sometimes never think of the fact that writers may talk about the same topic in two passages, but have different points to make.As a result, our ability to apply Scripture is limited by our selective reading. We will not grow because we will constantly assume we know what the author is getting at.
  • Lecture Review: “Reflections on the Bible, Evolution, and the Journey of Faith” by Peter Enns (mpworth.wordpress.com)
    For Enns, a literalist approach to Scripture “assumes that the mark of divine inspiration is to isolate itself from cultural context”—Enns doesn’t agree; therefore, we cannot simply “graft” evolution onto evangelicalism—by suggesting that Adam and Eve could have been some early hominid couple chosen by God, etc. The first gene pool was no less than about 10,000 humans, and this must be accounted for (see, for example, Dennis Venema’s article, “Genesis and the Genome.”).
  • Thy Word Is Still Truth: A Brief Review (reformedreader.wordpress.com)
    For those of you who want a mini-Reformed library on the doctrine of Scripture contained in a single volume, this one is for you.  It is true that almost everything in this book has been published previously elsewhere, but it is handy to have them all in one book.  And to top it off, there are very extensive indices (topical and scriptural).  Even though you probably won’t sit down and read Thy Word Is Still Truth straight through, it contains many excellent resources that will stimulate your studies for years to come.
  • How the Ancient Church Interpreted Scripture (theophiluspunk.wordpress.com)
    I have many problems with the very term inerrancy:

    • It’s more a political term than a theological one.  Seriously: “inerrancy” is mostly used as a club for beating up people one disagrees with, declaring who the truly saved are and aren’t.
  • Interpreting the Scriptures (Part 1) (supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com)
    If texts could speak for themselves, then everyone honestly and openly reading a text would agree on what the text says. But interpretations of texts abound, and people in fact do not agree on what the texts mean. This is obviously true of the texts of scripture: simply look at the hundreds, or even thousands, of ways people interpret the book of Revelation, or consider all the different Christians denominations, filled with intelligent and well-meaning people who base their views of how the church should be organized and function on the Bible, yet all of them coming to radically different conclusions. – Bart Ehrman
    +
    Reading the scriptures is a subjective endeavor; you can never remove you and your interpretation from the picture.
  • Is Christianity Biblical?-Part 2 (spyghana.com)
    The greatest error committed by all translators of the Bible lies in their translating of all names of people they found in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures. That is not only wrong and unacceptable, it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous because, whereas, names of towns, places and other landmarks in Hebrew have remained essentially the same in the English Bible, albeit in corrupted pronunciations, all names of people originally found in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures have been translated!
  • The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough? Part 2 (randomtheoloblog.wordpress.com)
    Sufficiency means that something is enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.  It refers to something being what is necessary or desirable for a specified need.  Simply put, if something is sufficient it is just what the doctor ordered.  When it comes to Scripture, God’s Holy Word, it means that the Bible is totally adequate, and competent to meet the needs of every individual Christian in every circumstance of life (see 2 Peter 1:2-3).  Nothing else is needed to guide us in our everyday living.
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Supernatural Gospel

Privileged elite interpreters & self-perpetuating systems

The Reformation was about taking authority away from a man and giving it to a book. The Catholics could control their masses through the doctrine of papal infallibility, the Protestants through the doctrine of Bible inerrancy. – Glenn Steers

Church leaders in the 1500s (like many church leaders today) did not think the average christian was capable of  understanding the scriptures. They felt christians needed priests to explain to them what God demands of them.

Nowadays Christians are allowed to read bibles, but “leaders” think they need to be given “lenses” (basically doctrinal boundaries) through which to interpret the scriptures. This is the purpose of bible colleges and seminaries – not teaching people to ask questions and find their own answers, but rather teaching their own brand of theology.

As Christians, we are taught by our leaders to believe certain ideas and behave in…

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Christianity without the Trinity

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the Council of Constantinople (381) the concept that God exists as three Persons in one Substance has been affirmed has formed a central part of the Christian confession. Though perhaps neglected in Protestant theology, the modern evangelical movement has given considerable emphasis to the doctrine of the Trinity as fundamental constituent of Christianity. Nevertheless a number of groups, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, have from biblical foundations developed a trinity-less theology. In their book The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting presented the argument that the doctrine of the Trinity is both a misrepresentation of the biblical doctrine of God and a liability that weakens Christianity’s power.[1] The controversy caused by The Myth of God Incarnate opened up to scrutiny the doubts of ‘respectable’ theologians about the ideas surrounding the divinity of Christ.[2]

The question I wish to consider in this article is what would Christianity without the Trinity look like, and is such a Christianity desirable? This can only be a cursory survey of the issues involved nevertheless I hope that this review prompts a reconsideration of the centrality ascribed to the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian theology.

A Platonic Doctrine

English: Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on ...

Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on the Hebrew word רוח “air, wind, spirit” having feminine grammatical gender in the Hebrew language (though in fact in a significant minority of its occurrences in the Hebrew Bible, the word actually has masculine grammatical gender). Could be considered “non-orthodox” by the criteria of the traditional mainstream of Christian doctrine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When theologians write about the doctrine of the Trinity they cite great luminaries like Augustine and Karl Barth, and, occasionally, the Bible.[3] But rarely will one pause to consider the theological pioneers of later Christian doctrine, such as the early apologists. Yet any scholar who deigns to do so will come against the awkward fact that the concept of a triune god is not Christian at all, but has the Platonists as its progenitors.[4] If Justin Martyr held a doctrine of three divine principles (First Apology 13), it is because Middle Platonists like Numenius of Apamea held this doctrine first. And the first thinker to propose three co-ordinate divine members of a trinity was not one of the Cappadocian Fathers[5] but a bitter enemy of Christianity, the Neo-Platonist Porphyry.[6]

The Platonic doctrine of a triune god is an imposition upon Christianity and an imposition that diverts Christianity from its original message and purpose. The simplicity of Christ’s teaching was supplanted by philosophic complexities that are seldom consistently defined. And thus too, the Bible was, in part, supplanted, because where in the Bible can one go to find theological definitions about the Trinity? It is noticeable that the Nicene Creed quotes verbatim from the New Testament regarding almost every aspect of belief except its definitions of the nature and trinity of God, where philosophic terms are supplied instead.[7]

A return to the teaching of Christ and the apostles would necessitate a reversal of the Platonic influence upon Christianity and thus require the revoking of the doctrine of Trinity.

The Role of Christ

In early Christian thought Christ was understood as a mediator. Paul writes ‘there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim 2:5). This relationship between to God and Jesus was seen through the role of high priest, Paul describing Christ as ‘making intercession’ for believers (Rom 8:34). Paul does not connect the intercession of Christ to any supposed divinity but to his ascension to the right hand of God. We find the same concept used in Acts when Peter says of Christ ‘God has exalted him to his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 5:31).

The writer to the Hebrews makes this concept his own, repeatedly naming Jesus ‘High Priest’. As with Paul, this intercession is linked to the literal ascension of Jesus from the earth to the right hand of God, ‘passing into the heavens’, as the writer puts it (Heb 4:14). Christ’s entry into the presence of God is described as a high priest entering the Holy of Holies (Heb 9:11-12). And, unequivocally, Christ becomes High Priest, not by intrinsic divinity but by the calling of God (Heb 5:5-6, 10, 6:20).

Other early Christian writers also view Christ has a mediator between God and men. Clement of Rome describes Jesus as ‘High Priest’, saying that he was ‘chosen’ by God (1 Clem 64). Ignatius too uses the term ‘High Priest’ but also describes Christ’s intercession through another figure, saying ‘he is the doorway to the Father’ (Ign.Phil 9). Also see Polycarp’s letter to Smyrna, where he too says Christ is ‘High Priest’ (12).

If Christ is promoted to the Godhead (and the Holy Spirit too), who then intercedes on behalf of believers? Historically, this problem was ‘solved’ by the introduction of a series of other go-betweens, namely the Saints and the clergy. In modern evangelical theology can alternative ‘solution’ has been posited, namely that Christ, whilst ontologically co-equal with the Father, remains subordinate and can thus perform his scripturally defined duties of intercession.[8] Yet this fudge simply results in the conundrum that Jesus is neither fully co-equal, nor fully mediator.

Sola Scriptura

Luther Bible, 1534

Luther Bible, 1534 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw both the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common tongues of the people of Europe. And following almost immediately on the heels of these developments was the emergence of groups that denied the doctrine of the Trinity. The Socinians, the Brüder in Christo and other unitarian groups were founded across Europe, teaching that the Bible alone was authoritative and that the Bible knew nothing of the Trinity. The problem for the Protestants was clear. The Reformation was founded on the principle of sola scriptura, and yet these groups, who also held the principle of sola scriptura, denied the doctrine of the Trinity.

English Protestant theologians wrestled with this problem throughout the seventeenth century. They urged that the believer needs both scripture and reason, and hoped that reason itself would be sufficient to safeguard the Trinity. Catholic theologians pounced upon the dilemma, challenging the Protestants to meet the objections of the Socinians by scripture alone or else return to the Catholic rule of faith.[9] The consequence of these disputes led English Protestants to neglect the doctrine of Trinity, passing over it in silence, a tacit admission that with scripture alone as the rule of faith the Trinity could not be sustained.[10]

Vickers bemoans the demise of the Trinity as the impact of an emphasis on the Trinity as a set of propositions (the immanent Trinity), and urges a return to the invocation of the Trinity in the believer’s encounter with God (the economic Trinity).[11] Yet, as Karl Rahner declares, the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity; it would make little sense to invoke God as Trinity if that set of propositions cannot be assented to. Given then the failure of Protestant theologians to defend the doctrine of the Trinity by scripture alone, it seems we must either abandon the Trinity or the founding principle of the Reformation, sola scriptura.

Modern evangelicals attempt to hold both sola scriptura and the Trinity, and yet it seems no evangelical can preach about the Trinity without reference to the creeds.[12] Though evangelicals may claim that the bible alone is authoritative, there is implicit in many evangelical writings a retreat to tradition to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.

Interfaith Dialogue

Christianity is oft categorized as one of the three great monotheistic faiths, alongside Judaism and Islam. Yet the Trinitarian conception of monotheism is determinedly different from that of either Jews or Muslims. Inasmuch as the Trinity is three Persons in one Substance, the Trinitarian claim to monotheism is an ontological one. However, viewed from a liturgical perspective it is hard to escape the fact that Trinitarian Christians claim to experience God in plurality, worshipping three Persons as God. This feels very different from the Jewish experience of a uni-personal God, and seems to have more in common with Hinduism’s conception of Brahman.

The upshot of this is that in dialogue with other monotheistic faiths the Trinitarian brings to the table a plural conception of God. However carefully the theologian may define the Trinity ontologically as one God, the bread-and-butter of traditional Christian liturgy is hopelessly poly-personal. Christians may claim to be monotheists but they appear for all world to practice polylatry. This hampers interfaith dialogue (and ultimately evangelism).

The issue is not simply that Christians experience God differently from other faiths, but that they define God differently. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to adherence to the God of Abraham, and yet the Trinitarian definition of God is simply alien to both Jews and Muslims (and, one must assume, would have been alien to Abraham himself). Therefore Christianity’s most primitive form of evangelism, preaching the coming of Jewish Messiah, is robbed from it by a doctrine that fundamentally alters the conception of the God of Abraham.

The Atonement

One proposition above any other motivates the continued emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity in modern evangelical theology: that only God could be sufficient substitute to bear the punishment due to mankind. It therefore becomes necessary that Jesus was fully God to bring about the atonement and to question the Trinity is treated as tantamount to denying the salvation of believers.[13] Yet this doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is a relatively new doctrine; it certainly did not motivate the doctrinal innovations that led to the formulation of the notion of the Trinity.

It is beyond the scope of this article to digress into a full rebuttal of the notion of penal substitutionary atonement but, in brief, there are at least two reasons why Christianity would be better off without such a doctrine.

Firstly, none of the New Testament writers appeal to the idea of a substitute to explain the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The analogy to the brazen serpent speaks of a representative icon (John 3:14-15); the analogy to the Passover lamb speaks of a representative offering (1 Cor 5:7); even the analogy to the Day of Atonement speaks of a representative death (Heb 9:11-14). The recapitulation theory that Paul develops at length (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:20-22; Phil 2:5-11) knows nothing of a substitutionary death, rather an offering of obedience to God (Rom 5:19). Even the very words of the NT writers presuppose a representative understanding of the Christ’s death, using huper (‘on behalf of’) in preference to anti (‘instead of’) in almost every instance where the death of Christ is described (cf. Luke 22:19-20; John 6:51; Rom 5:6-8; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14; Gal 1:4; Eph 5:2; 1 Thes 5:10; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 3:16).[14]

Secondly, the notion of penal subtitutionary atonement skews our notion of God. The psalms describe a God who does not desire sacrifices (Ps 40:6; 51:16). Hosea states that God prizes mercy above sacrifice (Hos 6:6; cf. Matt 9:13, 12:7). The idea of a God who requires sacrifice as a prerequisite for mercy seems inconsistent with this picture. Rather the biblical concept of forgiveness is one without price or condition; the king in the parable, moved with compassion, writes off the debt of his servant without any requirement of some other source of remittance (Matt 18:22-27). Followers of Christ are instructed to forgive freely; are we then more righteous than God, who only forgives at cost? This notion would seem to annul the very idea of grace and portray God as limited and constricted by the requirements of Justice, unable to act freely upon His compassion. This is not the God of the Bible.

Christianity without the Trinity

Christ Church

Christ Church (Photo credit: Nathan Kavumbura)

There are some that feel that without the doctrines of the Trinity and of the incarnation Christianity is doomed to failure. It is claimed that robbing Christ of his divinity makes his message and mission of null affect, and ultimately leads to a denial of the atonement, the resurrection and miracles in general.[15] Unfortunately in some cases, such as the Unitarians (capital ‘U’), this has been the result, Jesus being treated as just a righteous teacher. However there is no reason why the reductive process of removing the doctrine of the Trinity from Christianity should be a purely negative process. Rather it is, I am arguing, a restoration of the primitive Christian faith.

What, then, would Christianity without the Trinity look like? A unitarian creed might look something like this:

  1. There is one God (Mark 12:32), who is the Creator of all things (Eph 4:6) and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; 2 Cor 1:3).
  2. There is one Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:5), the Son of God (Rom 1:4) born of a virgin (Gal 4:4; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:27f), who lived a sinless life of obedience to God (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; Rom 5:19), was crucified and rose the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). Through his death Christ reconciled man to God (Rom 5:10).
  3. There is one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4), the power of God (Luke 1:35), by which God inspired the prophets (2 Pet 1:21) and works miracles (Gal 3:5).

What would Christianity without the Trinity feel like? It would feel more reminiscent of its Jewish roots, more consistent with its claims to monolatry, more reflective of scriptural language, and more intelligible to its adherents.

It has oft been claimed that those who deny the Trinity aren’t real Christians. Yet a ‘Christian’ (Greek christianos) by definition is a follower of Christ, and if this is to be anything more than a nominal title then those who claim to be Christian should follow Christ, in both his teaching and mode of life. Jesus Christ preached the God of Abraham (Matt 22:32) as his Father and as the one true God (John 17:3). Isn’t it time for the teaching of Christians to reflect the teaching of Christ?


[1] A. F. Buzzard & C. F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound (New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998).

[2] The Myth of God Incarnate (ed. J. Hick; London: SCM Press, 1977).

[3] Cf. M. A. McIntosh, Divine Teaching: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell 2008), 111-178

[4] T. E. Gaston, The Influence of Platonism on the Early Apologists, The Heythrop Journal 50.4 (2009), 573-580.

[5] Pace I. S. Markham, Understanding Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 76-7.

[6] J. Dillon, ‘Logos and Trinity: Patterns of Platonist Influence on Early Christianity’, in The Philosophy in Christianity, (G. Vesey ed.; Cambridge University Press, 1989).

[7] E.g. “Light of Light, very God of very God”, “being of one substance with the Father”, etc.

[8] R. M. Bowman, Why you should believe in the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 78-81.

[9] J. E. Vickers, Invocation and Assent: The Making and Remaking of Trinitarian Theology, (Grand Rapinds: Eerdmans, 2008), 69-101.

[10] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 165-7

[11] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 191-2

[12] cf. S. Olyott, The Three are One (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1979), 101-2; N. Gumbel [Alpha Course], Is the Trinity Unbiblical, Unbelievable and Irrelvant? (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 2004), 7;

[13] cf. J. I Packer, Knowing God (Leicester: IVP, 1984)166-170.

[14] The single exception to this rule is Matt 20:28 (cf. Mark 10:45), “to give his life a ransom for (anti) many”.

[15] Cf. Packer, Knowing God, 46+

Please do find to read:

  1. Did the Inspirator exist
  2. God, Creation and the Bible Hope
  3. God of gods
  4. A god between many gods
  5. Only One God
  6. God is One
  7. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  8. The Divine name of the Creator
  9. God about His name “יהוה“
  10. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name
  11. Sayings around God
  12. Attributes of God
  13. One God the Father, a compendium of essays
  14. Some one or something to fear #6 Faith in the Most High
  15. God Helper and Deliverer
  16. God is Spirit
  17. Praise the most High Jehovah God above all
  18. Praise and give thanks to God the Most Highest
  19. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua
  20. Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jehoshua of Jeshua
  21. Jesus begotten Son of God #12 Son of God
  22. Seeing Jesus
  23. Jesus Messiah
  24. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  25. Who was Jesus?
  26. Jesus spitting image of his father
  27. Jesus and his God
  28. Is Jesus God?Jesus and His God
  29. Jesus is the Son of God but Not God the Son
  30. How much was Jesus man, and how much was he God?
  31. On the Nature of Christ
  32. Jesus spitting image of his father
  33. Yeshua a man with a special personality
  34. A man with an outstanding personality
  35. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  36. The wrong hero
  37. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. #1 Creator and His Prophets
  38. Jesus begotten Son of God #5 Apsotle, High Priest and King
  39. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  40. Jesus begotten Son of God #14 Beloved Preminent Son and Mediator originating in Mary
  41. Jesus begotten Son of God #19 Compromising fact
  42. One Mediator
  43. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data
  44. A fact of History or just a fancy Story
  45. Politics and power first priority #2
  46. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  47. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  48. 2 Corinthians 5:19 – God in Christ
  49. Christ Versus the Trinity
  50. Is God a Trinity?
  51. The Trinity – true or false?
  52. The Trinity – the Truth
  53. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  54. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  55. How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop
  56. How did the doctrine of the Trinity arise?
  57. History of the acceptance of a three-in-one God
  58. Questions for those who believe in the Trinity
  59. Altered to fit a Trinity
  60. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  61. The Great Trinity Debate
  62. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’
  63. Compromise and accomodation
  64. Written to recognise the Promised One
  65. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  66. Do not be afraid. Good news because a Saviour has been born
  67. About a man who changed history of humankind
  68. No Other Name (But Jesus)
  69. Doesn’t the name “Immanuel” show that Jesus is God, and therefore proves the Trinity? (Isa. 7:14, Mat. 1:23)
  70. Is Isaiah 9:6′s “Wonderful counselor” related to Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8′s “Immanuel”?
  71. Why does Isaiah 9:6 call Jesus “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”?
  72. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  73. One Mediator between God and man
  74. Philippians 1 – 2
  75. Worshipping Jesus
  76. Idolatry or idol worship
  77. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  78. People Seeking for God 4 Biblical terms
  79. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  80. Science and God’s existence
  81. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  82. Blackness, nothingness, something, void
  83. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  84. Joseph Priestley To the Point
  85. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  86. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  87. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  88. The professor, God, Faith and the student
  89. Concerning gospelfaith
  90. Creator and Blogger God 7 A Blog of a Book 1 Believing the Blogger
  91. Apologetics (23) – The Hard Questions: Which God? The Exclusivity Issue (7) The Resurrection and Exclusivity
  92. Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures
  93. Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings
  94. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  95. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  96. Edward Wightman
  97. Focus on Jehovah’s Witnesses
  98. Book of Mormon (5): God and Jesus
  99. The Book of Mormon: (7) Right First Principles are Essential to Getting it Right
  100. What the Qur’an Says About…(2): Jesus
  101. Creation’s Gospel: (12) The Veiled Glory

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Additional reading:

  1. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  2. Trinity: A False Doctrine of a False Church
  3. Part 2) God is not a Trinity
  4. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  5. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  6. Trinity: The Truth about Matthew 28:19 & 1 John 5:7
  7. Anyone Who Goes Too Far and Does Not Abide in the Teaching of Christ, Does Not Have God
  8. Is Jesus God?

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Also of interest:

  1. Trinity Proof Texts Considered
  2. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  3. Can Genuine Christians Be Trinitarian or Non-Trinitarian?
  4. Trinity Doctrine vs Oneness Pentecostalism Doctrine – Berean Perspective Podcast
  5. The Unholy Trinity
  6. The Trinity: A Fundamental of the Faith or a Fable?
  7. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  8. Jesus Christ and God – Some Basic Considerations
  9. The Trinity – A Doctrine Overdue for Extinction
  10. What About Those Who Do Not Know The Name of God?
  11. The Existence of Jesus Christ
  12. The Doctrine Of The Trinity
  13. The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils
  14. Cult or True Religion
  15. Reimagining the Historicity of the Bible
  16. Bishop T. D. Jakes says he now embraces the Trinity Doctrine: T. D. Jakes was interviewed by pastor Mark Driscoll and pastor James MacDonald on January 27, 2012 at Harvest Bible Chapel
  17. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’ By Nicola Menzie
  18. T.D. Jakes is Heretical Concerning Modalism Whether he Believes it or Not
  19. Changed Heart for @StevenFurtick & @BishopJakes: Conviction in The #ElephantRoom. Lessons for dads?
  20. An Elephant Room Roundup
  21. Mark Driscoll And The Mars Hill Churches: When Discipline Becomes Control Becomes … ?
  22. Heretical Modalism and T.D. Jakes Doctrine On the Trinity
  23. The Leader of the Episcopal Church is a Heretic
  24. Critiquing N.T. Wright’s monotheism
  25. God, the Trinity
  26. This Is That – 1
  27. Dwell
  28. A brief visit to the Father of Revolution and Evolution
  29. Who Are You Really Slandering?
  30. On Union with God
  31. By the oaks of Mamre

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  • Nineteenth Century Protestant Doctrines of the Trinity (redeemingthetext.wordpress.com)
    The discussion in chapter nineteen of The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity is, in brief form, one of how Enlightenment philosopher-theologians developed innovative ways to discuss the Trinity and their effectiveness leading into the twentieth century.
    +
    Immanuel Kant, a German Idealist continuing the exegesis of the Socinians, saw no need for the doctrine of the Trinity. It was this idea of “necessity” mixed with speculative interpretation that led many like Kant to dismiss it altogether. Questions addressing God’s being, volition, and self-consciousness brought to light some of the supposed weak spots in the Trinitarian doctrine. Not being convinced scripturally of the nature or the necessity of the Trinity, nineteenth-century theologians turned to philosophy to answer their questions. Powell describes it as providing “philosophical answers with expressly Trinitarian features (269).” This move loosened the shackles of theological presuppositions and creedal traditions. Nineteenth-century theology was freed to philosophically construct a new horizon for the doctrine of God. Powell examines four prominent figures to structure his argument.
  • Hans Kung on Trinity Part 2 (presenttruthmn.org)
    This is continued from the previous post on the Trinity. It is taken directly from Hans Kung’s book ‘Christianity: Essence, History and Future’

    All this should have made it clear that according to the New Testament the key quesiton in the doctrine of the Trinity is not the question which is declared an impenetrable ‘mystery’ (mysterium stricte dictum), how three such different entities can be ontologically one, but the christological question how the relationship of Jesus (and consequently also of the Spirit) to God is to be expressed. Here the belief in the one God which Christianity has in common with Judaism and Islam may not be put in question for a moment. There no other God but God! But what is decisive for the dialogue with Jews and Christians in particular is the insight that according to the New Testament the principle of unity is clearly not the one divine ‘nature’ (physis) common to several entities, as people were to think after the ne0-Nicene theology of the fourth century. For the New Testament, as for the Hebrew Bible, the principle of unity is clearly the one God (ho theos: the God = the Father), from whom are all things and to whom are all things.

  • A Theology Big Enough for the Gospel: Reviewing Mike Bird’s Evangelical Theology (marccortez.com)
    despite the fact that Bird mentions the image of God throughout, clearly viewing it as an important topic that has bearing on a range of other issues, he devotes only five pages to it, one of which is just a recitation of the relevant biblical verses. His excursus on infra- vs. supralapsarianism is almost as long! And union with Christ hardly gets any attention at all. In a systematic theology, pages are like currency; what you invest in shows what you value. And I was surprised at a few of the investments.
    +
    Bird affirms a social trinitarian approach, defining the divine persons as “self-aware” beings who are “capable of consciousness” (p. 615), and he even refers to separate consciousnesses in the Trinity (p. 118). Regardless of whether you think social trinitarianism is viable, Bird’s discussion simply fails to deal with the historical and theological objections that can (and have!) been raised. And unfortunately, these aren’t isolated incidents.
  • What’s Old is New Again: The Return of “Biblical Unitarianism” (southernreformation.wordpress.com)
    While I’m used to defending the deity of Christ against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or fending off Mormon misunderstandings of the doctrine of the Trinity, I never thought I would see professing “conservative evangelicals” who were willing to jettison the central dogma that makes Christianity…Christianity.But it’s happening.

    I can name at least three churches in my immediate area (i.e., within 25 miles of my home) who have either had to turn away prospective new members because they wouldn’t affirm the Nicene formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, or who have only found out that a new member denied the Trinity after the individual had already been received as a member (in this case, it was kept hidden from the elders).

    What’s more, I know of at least two seminary students (at Presbyterian and Reformed seminaries, no less!) who have informed their professors that they don’t out and out deny the Nicene Creed, but they’re not sure they can affirm it, either.

  • “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (1peter58.wordpress.com)
    “The Bible says…” The real issue here is that these individuals, and also those that belong to very young churches/institutes, claim for themselves the authority to teach new doctrine, claim for themselves the authority to reject unchanged ancient doctrine. How do you decide when to trust that a doctrine is truly of God? How do you decide what is a false doctrine not of God?
  • Theophany, Epiphany and the Holy Trinity (orthodoxmom3.wordpress.com)
    Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church.  When we pray we make the sign of the cross.  The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD.  Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith.  The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Because the Bible Tells Me So (mackerelsnapperblog.wordpress.com)
    Whenever a Catholic debates the Faith with a non-Catholic — Christian or atheist — the very first argument that often gets brought up is that Catholic teaching contradicts the Scriptures.

    “Catholics believe (X), but (X) isn’t in the Bible”

    First off, let me put this out there and get it over with — Catholics do not believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which translates to “Scripture alone.” Unlike many Protestant beliefs, Catholics do not accept the Bible as the highest authority on doctrine. This may sound like a heresy to some, but it isn’t. The Church isn’t derived from the Bible. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It is precisely because of the Catholic Church that the Bible even exists

  • Sola Scriptura? (preacheroftruth.com) + > Sola Scriptura?
    Pythagoras is said to have been the earliest outside of Scripture (Isa. 40:22) to contend that the earth is round. He did not make the earth round with his assertions, but identified what already was.  Sir Isaac Newton certainly did not create gravity, but he is credited for our modern understanding of it.  Likewise, the term “sola scriptura” is not found in scripture (similar to terms like “trinity” and “omniscience”), but it was coined during the “Reformation Movement” as part of Martin Luther’s protests against perceived corruptions of the Catholic Church.  It was a “Latin phrase (literally ‘by Scripture alone’) describing the Protestant theological principle that Scripture is the final norm in all judgments of faith and practice.
    +
    Scripture is God-breathed, making one spiritually complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  If Scripture is sufficient, what need is there for anything beyond it?  On what basis would we accept anything more or less than or different from the Bible?  How could fallible man be equal to or co-authorize with the perfect law of the Lord?  Let us accept no substitute or rival to the Bible!
  • (1) The Two Pillars of the Reformation (altruistico.wordpress.com)
    The Protestant Reformation saw the advancement of the Gospel and an understanding of right doctrine that hadn’t been seen since the time of Christ and the Apostles. It drew Christianity out of the dark ages of the faith; a time when the Scripture was forbidden to be read in the language of the people, when superstition reigned, where abominations within the church leadership was a norm, and when a knowledge of the Truth was virtually unknown. But to the glory of God, He rekindled the fire of the Gospel, and it spread like a fire in a barn of hay. The Reformation has given us such a wealth of knowledge of the truth of Christ’s teaching that I personally will never be able to ingest all of.
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Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia

°°°

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By 1890 all Americans voted to make 25 December, Christmas a legal holiday.

The old elph Claus, induced with supernatural powers, and his eight horned magical reindeer.
By 1880 Santa Claus was a very popularised folk hero.
(According to this video) Looking at conception of Elisabeth and Mary, possible birthday 1st day of Feast of tabernacles, September 25th or beginning October.

Many people use Christmas to perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus to their children. (A lie and deceivement to their children, who believe and trust their parents. Later people would wounder if other things the parents told them would be true or not like this Santa Claus and Easterbunny myths) It plants the seeds of doubt, creating disappointment and disillusion.

In schools the holidays are celebrated but no references to God or to Jesus may be made. All references to God must be omitted. They only may sing non-Scriptural songs.
“There is no Christian element in the holiday” the interviewed says.

Christians should live on a daily basis, remembering the son of God, born in Bethlehem; momentby moment dedication of their entire life to Jesus, then, and only then, they will be able to have victory over pagan influences and to have an impact on society, for the Only One God the Creator of heaven and earth.

°°°


*

“2 here is what ADONAI says: “don’t learn the way of the Goyim, don’t be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them;
3 for the customs of the peoples are nothing. they cut down a tree in the forest; a craftsman works it with his axe;
4 they deck it with silver and gold. they fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won’t move.
5 like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak. it has to be carried, because it cannot walk.
do not be afraid of it—it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!”” (Jeremiah 10:2-5 CJB)

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“18  “if the world hates you, understand that it hated me first. 19 if you belonged to the world, the world would have loved its own. but because you do not belong to the world—on the contrary, I have picked you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20 remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ if they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours too. 21 but they will do all this to you on my account, because they don’t know the one who sent me. 22 “if I had not come and spoken to them, they wouldn’t be guilty of sin; but now, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 whoever hates me hates my father also.” (John 15:18-23 CJB)

“11  now I am no longer in the world. they are in the world, but I am coming to you. holy father, guard them by the power of your name, which you have given to me, so that they may be one, just as we are. 12 when I was with them, I guarded them by the power of your name, which you have given to me; yes, I kept watch over them; and not one of them was destroyed (except the one meant for destruction, so that the Tanakh might be fulfilled).
13 but now, I am coming to you; and I say these things while I am still in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.
14 “I have given them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world—just as I myself do not belong to the world. 15 I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one. 16 they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17  set them apart for holiness by means of the truth—your word is truth.” (John 17:11-17 CJB)

“4  you, children, are from god and have overcome the false prophets, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 they are from the world; therefore, they speak from the world’s viewpoint; and the world listens to them.
6 we are from god. whoever knows god listens to us; whoever is not from god doesn’t listen to us. this is how we distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:4-6 CJB)

“14 therefore fear ADONAI, and serve him truly and sincerely. put away the gods your ancestors served beyond the (Euphrates) river and in Egypt, and serve ADONAI! 15  if it seems bad to you to serve ADONAI, then choose today whom you are going to serve! will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the river? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? as for me and my household, we will serve ADONAI {Jehovah}!” (Joshua 24:14-15 CJB)

*

Preceding article: Holidays, holy days and traditions

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  1. The nativity story
  2. Religious Practices around the world
  3. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  4. First Century of Christianity
  5. Hellenistic influences
  6. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  7. Only One God
  8. Idolatry or idol worship
  9. Faith and works
  10. To mean, to think, outing your opinion, conviction, belief – Menen, mening, overtuiging, opinie, geloof
  11. Compromise and accomodation
  12. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  13. For those who have not the rudiments of an historical sense
  14. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  15. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  16. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  17. A season of gifts
  18. God’s Special Gift
  19. What Jesus sang
  20. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  21. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  22. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  23. The nativity story
  24. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  25. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  26. Speedy Christmas!
  27. Christmas trees
  28. Merry Christmas with the King of Kings
  29. What do you want for Christmas
  30. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  31. Sancta Claus is not God
  32. Wishing lanterns and Christmas

++

Additional reading:

  1. Pagan Roots? 5 Surprising Facts About Christmas
    Pagan, or non-Christian, traditions show up in this beloved winter holiday, a consequence of early church leaders melding Jesusnativity celebration with pre-existing midwinter festivals. Since then, Christmas traditions have warped over time, arriving at their current state a little more than a century ago.
    +
    As Christians spread their religion into Europe in the first centuries A.D., they ran into people living by a variety of local and regional religious creeds.
    Christian missionaries lumped all of these people together under the umbrella term “pagan,” said Philip Shaw, who researches early Germanic languages and Old English at Leicester University in the U.K. The term is related to the Latin word meaning “field,” Shaw told LiveScience. The lingual link makes sense, he said, because early European Christianity was an urban phenomenon, while paganism persisted longer in rustic areas.
    Early Christians wanted to convert pagans, Shaw said, but they were also fascinated by their traditions.
    “Christians of that period are quite interested in paganism,” he said. “It’s obviously something they think is a bad thing, but it’s also something they think is worth remembering. It’s what their ancestors did.” [In Photos: Early Christian Rome]
    Perhaps that’s why pagan traditions remained even as Christianity took hold. The Christmas tree is a 17th-century German invention, University of Bristol’s Hutton told LiveScience, but it clearly derives from the pagan practice of bringing greenery indoors to decorate in midwinter. The modern Santa Claus is a direct descendent of England’s Father Christmas, who was not originally a gift-giver. However, Father Christmas and his other European variations are modern incarnations of old pagan ideas about spirits who traveled the sky in midwinter, Hutton said.
    +
    With no Biblical directive to do so and no mention in the Gospels of the correct date, it wasn’t until the fourth century that church leaders in Rome embraced the holiday. At this time, Nissenbaum said, many people had turned to a belief the Church found heretical: That Jesus had never existed as a man, but as a sort of spiritual entity.
    “If you want to show that Jesus was a real human being just like every other human being, not just somebody who appeared like a hologram, then what better way to think of him being born in a normal, humble human way than to celebrate his birth?” Nissenbaum said. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]
    Midwinter festivals, with their pagan roots, were already widely celebrated, Nissenbaum said. And the date had a pleasing philosophical fit with festivals celebrating the lengthening days after the winter solstice (which fell on Dec. 21 this year). “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born … Christ should be born,” one Cyprian text read.
  2. The Origin of Christmas
    The truth is that all of the customs of Christmas pre-date the birth of Jesus Christ, and a study of this would reveal that Christmas in our day is a collection of traditions and practices taken from many cultures and nations.
    The date of December 25th comes from Rome and was a celebration of the Italic god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god.
    This was done long before the birth of Jesus.
    It was noted by the pre-Christian Romans and other pagans, that daylight began to increase after December 22nd, when they assumed that the sun god died.
    These ancients believed that the sun god rose from the dead three days later as the new-born and venerable sun.
    Thus, they figured that to be the reason for increasing daylight.
    This was a cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as sacred priests of Saturn, called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession.
    In Germany, the evergreen tree was used in worship and celebration of the yule god, also in observance of the resurrected sun god.
    +
    A simple study of the tactics of the Romish Church reveals that in every case, the church absorbed the customs, traditions and general paganism of every tribe, culture and nation in their efforts to increase the number of people under their control.
    In short, the Romish church told all of these pagan cultures,”Bring your gods, goddesses, rituals and rites, and we will assign Christian sounding titles and names to them.

    When Martin Luther started the reformation on October 31st, 1517, and other reformers followed his lead, all of them took with them the paganism that was so firmly imbedded in Rome.
    These reformers left Christmas intact.
    In England, as the authorized Bible became available to the common people by the decree of King James the II in 1611, people began to discover the pagan roots of Christmas, which are clearly revealed in Scripture.
    The Puritans in England, and later in Massachusetts Colony, outlawed this holiday as witchcraft.
    Near the end of the nineteenth century, when other Bible versions began to appear, there was a revival of the celebration of Christmas.

    We are now seeing ever-increasing celebrating of Christmas or Yule, its true name, as we draw closer to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!
    In both witchcraft circles and contemporary Christian churches, the same things are going on.

  3. Is Christmas Pagan?
    There was, for example, a saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated, which was actually a temptation for Christians to participate in that had pagan content to it.  So the church changed the day that they celebrated the birth of Christ.  They used to celebrate it in the Spring.  But the church said, We can celebrate it any time we want.  Let’s celebrate it at the same time the pagans are celebrating their pagan festival.  It’ll act as a contrast to that pagan festival because our celebration is the birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ.  It has Biblical content.  Plus it will protect Christians from being wooed away by this other celebration to participate in what was a pagan celebration.
    +
    Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians before it was practiced by the Jews.  It was a cultural practice which had some religious significance.  God captured the practice, gave it to Abraham, reinvested it with new meaning and it became a religious rite for Abraham to worship his creator.
    We think of circumcision as this really holy thing in the Old Testament associated with the covenant, which it was.  But it wasn’t that way originally.  By golly, it seems to me that if God can do such a thing–take a practice that had heathen content to it, save the practice, reinvest new information to it–then it certainly is okay for the church to do it.
    +
    Even Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, wasn’t given by God in the Scriptures.  It’s something that they do to recollect a deliverance, a special deliverance, that God gave them during what we call the inter-testamental period, those 400 years between Malachi and Jesus.  Theirs is a festival that is commonplace now but which doesn’t have its source in a direct command in Scripture; but it does function like many of those other things that are in Scripture.  It reminds people year to year of God’s faithfulness and His goodness.
  4. The History of Christmas, simple to remember
    St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus.  This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.+

    Joseph A. Fitzmyer – Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association – writing in the Catholic Church’s official commentary on the New Testament {Addison G. Wright, Roland E. Murphy, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “A History of Israel” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, (Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1990), p. 1247.}, writes about the date of Jesus’ birth, “Though the year [of Jesus birth is not reckoned with certainty, the birth did not occur in AD 1.  The Christian era, supposed to have its starting point in the year of Jesus birth, is based on a miscalculation introduced ca. 533 by Dionysius Exiguus.”

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    The DePascha Computus, an anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around 243 CE, placed Jesus birth on March 28.  Clement, a bishop of Alexandria (d. ca. 215 CE), thought Jesus was born on November 18.  Based on historical records, Fitzmyer guesses that Jesus birth occurred on September 11, 3 BCE.

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    In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians

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    The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”{ Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687), p. 35.  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997, p. 4.}  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.{Nissenbaum, p. 3.}  However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

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    Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna.  Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim. {Miles, p. 273.}  The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.{Miles, p. 274-5.}

  5. Christmas: Is it “Christian” or Pagan?
    “The cold of the night in Palestine between December and February is very piercing, and it was not customary for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fields later than about the end of October.” Hislop, A., The Two Babylons, Loiseaux Brothers, Neptune, N.J. pg 91.
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    If the winter was such a bad time in which to flee, it seems unlikely that the shepherds would be sleeping out in the fields while tending their sheep during that season.
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    Isis, the Egyptian title for the “queen of heaven,” gave birth to a son at this very time, about the time of the winter solstice. The term “Yule” is the Chaldee (Babylonian) name for “infant” or “little child.”
    This pagan festival not only commemorated the figurative birthday of the sun in the renewal of its course, but it also was celebrated (on December 24) among the Sabeans of Arabia, as the birthday of the “Lord Moon.”

In Babylon, where the sun (Baal) was the object of worship, Tammuz was considered the incarnation of the Sun.

“In the Hindu mythology, which is admitted to be essentially Babylonian, this comes out very distinctly. There, Surya, or the Sun, is represented as being incarnate, and born for the purpose of subduing the enemies of the gods, who without such a birth, could not have been subdued.” Ibid pg 96

There are many other Christmas counterparts of the Babylonian winter solstice festival, such as: 1) candles lighted on Christmas eve and used throughout the festival season were equally lighted by the Pagans on the eve of the festival of the Babylonian god, to do honor to him, 2) the Christmas tree was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir. The tree denoted the Pagan Messiah.

“The mother of Adonis, the Sun God and great mediatorial divinity, was mystically said to have been changed into a tree, and when in that state to have brought forth her divine son. If the mother was a tree, the son must have been recognized as the ŒMan of the branch.” Ibid pg 97

  • Should we Celebrate Christmas?
    Sometimes tradition is acceptable and perhaps even pleasing in the sight of Yahweh. But other times it is not acceptable and can even be hated by Him
    The issue of traditions transgressing the commandment of Yahweh was a key teaching of Yahushua the Messiah:
    (NKJV) Matthew 15:1- Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yahushua, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
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    Messiah didn’t like the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees because they transgressed Yahweh’s clear commandments. As I will share, Christmas is also transgressing the commandment of Yahweh in favor of tradition. But first, notice that He goes on to say:

    Matthew 15:7 –
    “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:8 `These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with [their] lips, But their heart is far from Me.9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “So a tradition can honor him with the lips, but actually be a vain thing that displeases Him. I have found that Christmas is honoring with the lips but it is actually a vain tradition that has essentially become a doctrine and commandment of men.
    It is a tradition and commandment of men because there is no verse in the bible that tells us that we are to celebrate the birth nor the resurrection of Yahushua the Messiah—let alone in a way that imitates paganism and idolatry!
    So yes, I do believe we must question these traditions that have been handed down to this generation even though few dare to. Many Christians speak against the Catholic traditions of Lent, Ash Wednesday, etc. but fail to recognize that the same types of pagan elements exist in the celebration of Christmas and Easter.
  • The History of Christmas and Its Pagan Origins
    English: large wooden Santa Claus and "no...

    large wooden Santa Claus and “north pole” at Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Many people suffer from the misconception that Christmas is a Christian holiday. The earliest history of Christmas is composed of “pagan” (non-Christian) fertility rites and practices which predate Jesus by centuries. The truth is, in short, the real history of Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity. Many of the traditions which we hold dear, such as decorating Christmas trees, singing Christmas carols, and giving Christmas gifts, are rooted in the traditions of non-Christian religions.
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    In the Middle Ages, Christmas was a raucous, drunken celebration which resembled a carnival. Poor people would go on a Christmas“trick or treat” around the richer neighborhoods, causing them misery if they didn’t get what they wanted.
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    The Germans did not so much celebrate as honor the winter solstice. They believed that their god, Oden, flew through the sky at night passing judgment on his people. Generally, they would stay indoors during this season. When the Germanic people were converted to Christianity, their winter festival was naturally adopted as a celebration of the birth of Christ.
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    Contrary to popular belief, the tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree, bringing it into the home and decorating it is not pagan in origin, and did not appear until centuries after Christ’s broth. The Romans decorated their homes and temples with evergreen clippings, but allowed the trees to remain intact, often decorating live trees with religious icons.
    The Druids tied fruit to the branches of live trees, and baked cakes in the shape of fish, birds and other animals, to offer to their god, Woden. We also inherited the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe from the Druids. The Christmas tree tradition we currently practice had its origins in 16th century Western Germany. “Paradise trees” were cut down to commemorate the Feast of Adam and Eve, which took place on Christmas eve every year.
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    Christianity and pre-Christian pagan religion have a great deal in common. Various pagan religions shared the Christian practice of worshiping a god-man who could offer salvation in the form of heaven or condemnation in the form of hell. The concept that a son of God could be born of a mortal woman is seen in many different religions spanning the globe. These concepts are universal, except to those who are extremely divisive and have a tendency to pick nits.
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    Fortunately there are many ways to reconnect with the original purpose and meaning of Christmas. Small traditions, such as placing apples or cookies on the tree, or decorating a live tree instead of a cut one, are a good way to get in touch with the way that our ancestors celebrated Christmas. Respecting the planet and understanding its powers and its limitations are important. The pagans were aware of the changing seasons and found earth-centered and social ways to cope with them. They were aware and appreciative of the sun. They exchanged gifts, but their gift exchange was not commercialized. Instead the focus was on bringing good fortune. Giving gifts of fruit has been a common practice throughout history, and is still popular today.

  • A History of New Years
  • Christianity gone haywire, and going down
  • The Marketing Of Catholicism
  • One of the main concerns of the Church in the last 50 years – and I mean, even from good, orthodox priests and laymen – seems to be to make the message of Christianity attractive, or easy to digest, or such that it would appear an improvement in one’s quality of life.
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    Christianity isn’t a “fun option”, or a “better choice”; similarly, atheism or unrepentant grave sin are infinitely worse than “poor choices”. It is no surprise 50 years of trying to persuade people of this have brought us to the level where we are now.
    Christianity is, first and foremost, harsh. Harsh in the brutal commandments – not suggestions of “better choices” -, harsh in the consequences for those refusing to do so, harsh in the crystal-clear warning that no alternative ways are acceptable.
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    The call to submit our will to His good and perfect will – because God’s ways work for our happiness. A call to surrender our “rights” and all that we are to Jesus – through faithful membership of His Church.

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  • Oh Christmas Tree (notestoponder.wordpress.com)
    We deck the halls because Pagans used to bring greenery into their homes on  the shortest day of the year for the sun god to eat.  It was an “offering” to get well soon; a custom shared by ancient Druids, Romans and Greeks. Jesus could have been born in July for all we know but Dec. 25 was set to soothe uppity Pagans by coinciding with their solstice parties.
  • Chanukah (Hanukkah) / Christmas – Facts or Fabels? (hisimagenme.wordpress.com)
    Would Yeshua Himself celebrate Christmas if He walked the earth as human today? Not likely, at least not the way most do.What about Hanukkah?
    Yeshua likely grew up celebrating Hanukkah. It is one of the Jewish Holidays that goes way back. But to be clear it is the only holiday that God did not command to be celebrated. At least Biblically speaking. At least as far as we know. This is because the time period in which the origin of the holiday takes place between Malachi and Matthew or “old and new” testaments. He did indeed celebrate this holiday, and its not a far stretch to know why. As the Light of the World that gave the oil (Holy Spirit) to His church at a critical time in its history…we are the Menorah of Adonai. The above link does a beautiful job explaining this in more detail. It’s worth the time to “study to show thyself and test the Spirit” in search of Truth.
  • The Idol of Christmas (eternalchrist.wordpress.com)
    No, we are not the Grinch who stole Christmas; but Christians should understand the origins of this most hallowed celebration.
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    Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and Jingle Bells are born of the traditions of men, and detract from the birth of Messiah. Granted, Sinterklaas was a real person (Saint Nicholas of Myra); a 4th Century Christian bishop who gave generously to the poor.Everything else we know about Santa Claus is a creation of myth and fables. The Saint Nick who is worshiped today has become an idol of merchants and debtors; and is a sacrilege to the Nativity at Bethlehem.Christmas evolved from the winter festivals of Saturnalia (Rome) and Yule (German) from which we get the word Yuletide. These annual feasts celebrated pagan gods such as the white bearded Odin who supposedly rode his horse across the wintry skies of northern Europe delivering gifts to all the children.
  • The true reason for the season (sanchezjennifer926.wordpress.com)
    Christ will never be “the reason for the season” Jesus Christ was interjected into an already existing Pagan festival/feast and I’m here to shed a little light on an ongoing betrayal.
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    During the middle ages, the debased Mardi Gras atmosphere, of what was now known as “Christ’s mass” had reached a fevered pitch. Common practices included sex in the streets, rioting, murder, and a number of Druid Halloween like rituals. This blood drenched ritual got so out of hand, that by the year 1652 following the execution of King Charles I, “Christ’s mass” was finally outlawed.
  • YAHWEH’s Truth Behind The Pagan Holiday Christmas (simplylivingforyah.wordpress.com)
    Unbeknownst to the multitudes of Christians, and other religions, those celebrations are made by witches, warlocks, but mainly by Luciferians. I know you are thinking “why Luciferians”? So I’ll tell you why. Try to go over this a few times so you make sure it’s absolutely correct, and then once you do, “remember it”!The reason Luciferians celebrate it is because they know their god Satan has tricked most of the people that call themselves Christians into believing a lie, and that makes those people seen for who they are. “Weak in study and able to be told anything.” Today’s modern day believer is unequipped to do battle with Satan and that gives him an advantage over them.
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    These so called “church father’s” pre-existed the man who would continue in their efforts to malign the true doctrine that we were supposed to be taught. Instead Constantine, who was a wife murdering madman, and killed his very own children, found a way to align pagan worship (paganomics) with what was being called “Christianity.” It would allow pagans to bring some long time rituals into the church. “Easter” (Ishtar) The fertility goddess, whose name was originally “Asherah,” or “Astarte.” YAHWEH had the Asheran pole (may pole dancing) taken out of all HIS Tabernacles. “Churchianity brought it back with Easter.”
  • “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” (allaboutarmstrongism.wordpress.com)
    Tonight, the Christmas tree – yes, the Christmas tree – (you’re responsible for your judging thoughts, Armstrong Adherents)  is brightly lit and shining in my home. Lights flashing sequentially, the beautiful colors light the living room in a warm, inviting glow. From speakers, St. Paul’s Cathedral is singing “Hark the Herald Angels sing” – a song proclaiming the birth of the most important Figure ever to walk the face of the Earth. The words echo beautifully throughout. It is absolutely wonderful.
  • The Twelve Mysteries of Christmas, Day 2 (lmwinborne.wordpress.com)
    Fact is, green has been used by many cultures as a symbol of life.  During harsh winters, evergreens were cut down and brought into houses as a symbol that life still existed despite the bleak conditions outside.  Romans hung holly wreaths on their doors and walls to welcome back the sun in the natalis solis invicti (birth of the invincible sun”) festival, which was celebrated on December 25 each year.  Red was added to symbolize the shed blood of Jesus.
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    The custom of using a pine to represent the Tree of Good and Evil spread from the church to the home, creating a tradition with the two colors.
  • Falling Back To The Wall – In Length And Wordiness (experientialpagan.wordpress.com)
     I’m (not really) sorry, Christians; you don’t have a patent on festive mid-winter celebrations.  In fact, if you all bothered to know as much about your Christian history as you think you know about pagan history, you would know it was your own Puritans who wanted to banish Christmas; not the secular humanists, thank you very much.At this time of year, I often wish I could master the patter of the professional auctioneer, so I could belt out “Merry Bodhi, Soyal, Dongzhi, Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, Malkh, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solis Invicti, Saturnalia, Yalda, Hogmanay, New Year’s!” 545237without it taking me five minutes to say it.  I hear the “defend Christmas” crowd go on about how it is our “culture” to be defended, but you know what?  America doesn’t have a culture.  Not really.  Capitalism is not cultured, religious bigotry is not cultured, consumerism and materialism are not cultured….but enough of my humanism, right?  IF Americans doing the loudest screaming had ANY bloody concept of “culture” they would know what all those holidays up there ARE, for starters…and then maybe we could have a rational talk about their ill-mannered insistence that nobody ever say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas!”
  • Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? (christianmotivations.weebly.com)
    Jewish people celebrate Christmas today, not because of Christ’s birthday, but because it is a popular tradition and part of our present-day culture. It’s as American as apple pie and hamburgers. And I observed Christmas for nearly 22 years of my life, until God opened my eyes to see the falseness of this pagan holiday.It’s not because I’m a Jew that I don’t celebrate Christmas now. That has nothing to do with it. Let me tell you the real reasons why I no longer observe this pagan holiday.
  • The Christmas Season in the Italian Language (becomingitalianwordbyword.typepad.com)
    To celebrate la stagione natalizia in Italy, I am dedicating this month’s blog posts to the sights, sounds, tastes, and traditions of Natale.  Buone feste! (Happy Holidays!)
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    the key dates in a season of celebrations:*December 6: La festa di San Nicola, patron saint of shepherds and of Bari–and the inspiration for the American “Santa Claus.”*December 8: La festa dell’Immacolata, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day honoring Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. In Rome the Pope comes to the Piazza di Spagna to drop a garland of flowers around the statue of the Madonna. (Since she stands atop a high column, firemen on ladders do the actual placement.)*December 13: La festa di Santa Lucia, the festival of lights.

    *December 24: La vigilia di Natale, the vigil or eve of Christmas.

    *December 25: Natale,  the “birthday” of Gesù bambino.

    *December 26: La festa di Santo Stefano, Saint Steven’s day.

    *December 31: La festa di San Silvestro, Saint Sylvester’s day or New Year’s Eve (la vigilia di Capodanno).

    *January 1: Il Capodanno, literally the top of the year.

    *January 6: L’Epifania (Epiphany), which marks the arrival of the Re Magi, the three wise men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus from afar.

Science and the Bible—Do They Really Contradict Each Other?

Nikolaus Kopernikus.jpg

Portrait of Mikołaj Kopernik, better known as Nicolaus Copernicus 1580, Toruń Old Town City Hall

galileo_card

galileo_card (Photo credit: triviaqueen)

The seeds of the clash between Galileo and the Catholic Church were sown centuries before the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Copernicus and Galileo were born. The earth-centered, or geocentric, view of the universe was adopted by the ancient Greeks and made famous by the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) and the astronomer-astrologer Ptolemy (second century C.E.).*

Aristotle’s concept of the universe was influenced by the thinking of Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (sixth century B.C.E.). Adopting Pythagoras’ view that the circle and sphere were perfect shapes, Aristotle believed that the heavens were a series of spheres within spheres, like layers of an onion. Each layer was made of crystal, with the earth at the center. Stars moved in circles, deriving their motion from the outermost sphere, the seat of divine power. Aristotle also held that the sun and other celestial objects were perfect, free of any marks or blemishes and not subject to change.

Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and A...

Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle would become highly revered in the christian world and later also in the medieval Islamic world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aristotle’s great scheme was a child of philosophy, not science. A moving earth, he felt, would violate common sense. He also rejected the idea of a void, or space, believing that a moving earth would be subject to friction and would grind to a halt without the application of constant force. Because Aristotle’s concept seemed logical within the framework of existing knowledge, it endured in its basic form for almost 2,000 years. Even as late as the 16th century, French philosopher, jurist and polyhistor Jean Bodin expressed that popular view, stating: “No one in his senses, or imbued with the slightest knowledge of physics, will ever think that the earth, heavy and unwieldy . . . , staggers . . . around its own centre and that of the sun; for at the slightest jar of the earth, we would see cities and fortresses, towns and mountains thrown down.”

Aristotle Adopted by the Church

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's e...

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of God’s existence was based on teleology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A further step leading to the confrontation between Galileo and the church occurred in the 13th century and involved Catholic authority Thomas Aquinas (1225-74). Aquinas had a profound respect for Aristotle, whom he referred to as The Philosopher. Aquinas struggled for five years to fuse Aristotle’s philosophy with church teaching. By the time of Galileo, says Wade Rowland in his book Galileo’s Mistake, “the hybridized Aristotle in the theology of Aquinas had become bedrock dogma of the Church of Rome.” Keep in mind, too, that in those days there was no scientific community as such. Education was largely in the hands of the church. The authority on religion and science was often one and the same.

The stage was now set for the confrontation between the church and Galileo. Even before his involvement with astronomy, Galileo had written a treatise on motion. It challenged many assumptions made by the revered Aristotle. However, it was Galileo’s steadfast promotion of the heliocentric concept and his assertion that it harmonizes with Scripture that led to his trial by the Inquisition in 1633.

In his defense, Galileo affirmed his strong faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. He also argued that the Scriptures were written for ordinary people and that Biblical references to the apparent movement of the sun were not to be interpreted literally. His arguments were futile. Because Galileo rejected an interpretation of Scripture based on Greek philosophy, he stood condemned! Not until 1992 did the Catholic Church officially admit to error in its judgement of Galileo.

Lessons to Be Learned

What can we learn from these events? For one thing, Galileo had no quarrel with the Bible. Instead, he questioned the teachings of the church. One religion writer observed: “The lesson to be learned from Galileo, it appears, is not that the Church held too tightly to biblical truths; but rather that it did not hold tightly enough.” By allowing Greek philosophy to influence its theology, the church bowed to tradition rather than follow the teachings of the Bible.

All of this calls to mind the Biblical warning:

“Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:8.

A page of hand-written notes, with a sketch of branching lines.

In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his “B” notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote “I think” above his first evolutionary tree.

Even today, many in Christendom continue to embrace theories and philosophies that contradict the Bible. One example is Darwin’s theory of evolution, which they have accepted in place of the Genesis account of creation. In making this substitution, the churches have, in effect, made Darwin a modern-day Aristotle and evolution an article of faith.*

True Science Harmonizes With the Bible

The foregoing should in no way discourage an interest in science. To be sure, the Bible itself invites us to learn from God’s handiwork and to discern God’s amazing qualities in what we see. (Isaiah 40:26; Romans 1:20) Of course, the Bible does not claim to teach science. Rather, it reveals God’s standards, aspects of his personality that creation alone cannot teach, and his purpose for humans. (Psalm 19:7-11; 2 Timothy 3:16) Yet, when the Bible does refer to natural phenomena, it is consistently accurate. Galileo himself said: “Both the Holy Scriptures and nature proceed from the Divine Word . . . Two truths can never contradict one another.” Consider the following examples.

Even more fundamental than the movement of stars and planets is that all matter in the universe is governed by laws, such as the law of gravity. The earliest known non-Biblical reference to physical laws was made by Pythagoras, who believed that the universe could be explained by numbers. Two thousand years later, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton finally proved that matter is governed by rational laws.

The earliest Biblical reference to natural law is contained in the book of Job. About 1600 B.C.E., God asked Job: “Have you come to know the statutes [or, laws] of the heavens?” (Job 38:33) Recorded in the seventh century B.C.E., the book of Jeremiah refers to Jehovah as the Creator of “the statutes of the moon and the stars” and “the statutes of heaven and earth.” (Jeremiah 31:35; 33:25) In view of these statements, Bible commentator G. Rawlinson observed:

“The general prevalence of law in the material world is quite as strongly asserted by the sacred writers as by modern science.”

If we use Pythagoras as a point of reference, the statement in Job was about a thousand years ahead of its time. Keep in mind that the Bible’s objective is not simply to reveal physical facts but primarily to impress upon us that Jehovah is the Creator of all things—the one who can create physical laws.—Job 38:4, 12; 42:1, 2.

The Hydrologic Cycle. Illustration by Tom Schultz

Another example we can consider is that the earth’s waters undergo a cyclic motion called the water cycle, or the hydrologic cycle. Put simply, water evaporates from the sea, forms clouds, precipitates onto the land, and eventually returns to the sea. The oldest surviving non-Biblical references to this cycle are from the fourth century B.C.E. However, Biblical statements predate that by hundreds of years. For example, in the 11th century B.C.E., King Solomon of Israel wrote: “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the rivers come, to there and from there they return again.”—Ecclesiastes 1:7, The Amplified Bible.

Likewise, about 800 B.C.E. the prophet Amos, a humble shepherd and farmworker, wrote that Jehovah is “the One calling for the waters of the sea, that he may pour them out upon the surface of the earth.” (Amos 5:8) Without using complex, technical language, both Solomon and Amos accurately described the water cycle, each from a slightly different perspective.

The Bible also speaks of God as “hanging the earth upon nothing,” or he “suspends earth in the void,” according to The New English Bible. (Job 26:7) In view of the knowledge available in 1600 B.C.E., roughly when those words were spoken, it would have taken a remarkable man to assert that a solid object can remain suspended in space without any physical support. As previously mentioned, Aristotle himself rejected the concept of a void, and he lived over 1,200 years later!

Does it not strike you as amazing that the Bible makes such accurate statements—even in the face of the erroneous yet seemingly commonsense perceptions of the day? To thinking people, this is one more evidence of the Bible’s divine inspiration. We are wise, therefore, not to be easily swayed by any teaching or theory that contradicts God’s Word. As history has repeatedly shown, human philosophies, even those of towering intellects, come and go, whereas “the saying of Jehovah endures forever.”—1 Peter 1:25.

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[Footnotes]

In the third century B.C.E., a Greek named Aristarchus of Samos put forth the hypothesis that the sun is at the center of the cosmos, but his ideas were dismissed in favor of Aristotle’s.

For an in-depth discussion on this topic, see chapter 15, “Why Do Many Accept Evolution?” in the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Protestants’ Attitude

  Leaders of the Protestant Reformation also railed against the sun-centered concept. They included Martin Luther (1483-1546), Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), and John Calvin (1509-64). Luther said of Copernicus: “This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy.”

  The Reformers based their argument on a literal interpretation of certain scriptures, such as the account in Joshua chapter 10 that mentions that the sun and the moon “kept motionless.”* Why did the Reformers take this stand? The book Galileo’s Mistake explains that while the Protestant Reformation broke the papal yoke, it failed to “shake the essential authority” of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, whose views were “accepted by Catholic and Protestant alike.”

[Footnote 2]

Scientifically speaking, we use incorrect terms when we refer to “sunrise” and “sunset.” But in everyday speech, these words are both acceptable and accurate, when we keep in mind our terrestrial perspective. Likewise, Joshua was not discussing astronomy; he was simply reporting events as he saw them.

[Credit Line 1]

From the book Servetus and Calvin, 1877

[Credit Line 2]

From the book A General History for Colleges and High Schools, 1900

[Credit Line 3]

From the book Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1855

After w05 4/1 pp. 4-7

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Preceding articles:

Where is the edge

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

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Additional reading:

  1. Living on the edge
  2. Is it “Wrong” to Believe that the Earth is a Sphere? Inclusive the first generation of Christadelphians their views
  3. A dialogue about the earth moving and spinning around the sun
  4. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  5. Everyday beauty

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In Dutch:

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  • Reason Illuminates Faith (in the Middle Ages) (thesoapboxguild.wordpress.com)
    The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, is incredibly readable for its length and depth, and is a credit to its author. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in science and the Middle Ages. This series of blog posts is my attempt to gain a deeper appreciation for the issues Hannam raises, and to think alongside him as he dives into the lost world of medieval cosmology, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy.
  • Thomas Aquinas’s Works and Philosophies  As an Italian philosopher and (bestessaycheap.wordpress.com)
    Thomas led the Church towards a new expression of thinking. (MSN knowledge and Research). From the beginning he rebelled against a life previously go d sustain the stairs by his family, and pave a road towards success for himself.
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    Although many philosophies were derived from the bookworm thinker, Aristotle, he believed that it focused too na! rrowly on only when a few professions.
  • Galileo (hiddengrail.wordpress.com)
    At the University of Pisa, Galileo learned the physics of the Ancient Greek scientist, Aristotle. However, Galileo questioned the Aristotelian approach to physics. Aristotelians believed that heavier objects fall faster through a medium than lighter ones. Galileo eventually disproved this idea by asserting that all objects, regardless of their density, fall at the same rate in a vacuum.
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    Because Galileo supported the Copernican system, he was warned by Cardinal Bellarmine, under order of Pope Paul V, that he should not discuss or defend Copernican theories. In 1624, Galileo was assured by Pope Urban VIII that he could write about Copernican theory as long as he treated it as a mathematical proposition. However, with the printing of Galileo’s book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was called to Rome in 1633 to face the Inquisition again. Galileo was found guilty of heresy for his Dialogue, and was sent to his home near Florence where he was to be under house arrest for the remainder of his life. In 1638, the Inquisition allowed Galileo to move to his home in Florence, so that he could be closer to his doctors. By that time he was totally blind. In 1642, Galileo died at his home outside Florence.
  • Who are the most significant moral philosophers in the history of Western philosophy? (leiterreports.typepad.com)
    1. Aristotle  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
    2. Immanuel Kant  loses to Aristotle by 364–227
    3. Plato  loses to Aristotle by 414–168, loses to Immanuel Kant by 349–241
  • Unified Truth: Faith and Reason (str.typepad.com)
    Christianity’s engagement with non-Christian thought proceeds from the Christian belief that reason and faith are complementary, not oppositional. Thomas Aquinas’ synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity is a vital chapter in this engagement. His interaction with the philosophy of Aristotle demonstrates both the harmony of reason and faith and the oneness of truth, which are both central to the Christian intellectual tradition….
    +
    Greek philosophy is not compatible with Christian theology, except in a few areas. In Greek philosophy, the body is bad. In Christian theology, the body is good and will be redeemed eventually by God. Greek philosophy has brought us off course in our understanding of eschatology and other important things on many occasions in the church. I am a bit wary about some of what Thomas Aquinas believes because of that.
  • Galileo Galilei (Scientific revolution) (chrissanchez42.wordpress.com)
    Galileo eventually combined his laws of physics with the observations he made with his telescope to defend the heliocentric Copernican view of the universe and refute the Aristotelian system in his 1630 masterwork, Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World. Upon its publication, he was censored by the Catholic Church and sentenced to house arrest in 1633.
  • Aristotle (megcannington.wordpress.com)
    Aristotle’s works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today continue to be studied with interest. He was definitely a  prodigious researcher and writer.
  • Knowledge Development History (zahrohtimy.wordpress.com)
    According to Bertrand Russell , among all history , nothing so difficult so astonish or explained besides the birth of civilization in Greece of a sudden. It has many elements of civilization there for thousands of years in Egypt and Mesopotamia. But certain elements have not been intact until then executing Yunanilah race .
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    Archimedes , considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time , it is based on mathematical principles form temuannya lever, pulley system ( which didemonstrasikannya to attract a private boat only), and penak thread, that shows the planetarium model that can show movement of sun, moon, the planets, and constellations in the sky possibility. In the field of mathematics, the findings on the value of p ( phi ) over the previous approach of scholars. Of his works that is experimental, it is then dubbed as ” Mr. Experimental IPA ”.
  • What’s the record for the longest delayed apology? (chron.com)
    The longest delayed apology I can think of came from the Catholic Church, in 1992, to Galileo:Moving formally to rectify a wrong, Pope John Paul II acknowledged in a speech today that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years ago for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
  • Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org)
    For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of a thing what was not. In a larger sense, wisdom was an understanding of the truth of things. Philosophy was not navel gazing and not ideological manipulation, but it was a diligent quest to understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful.

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

The mythical conflict of science & Scripture (2)

Dismissal of the myth that science and Christianity have traditionally been at war, has led to over-correction by some writers who have gone too far in the opposite direction.[1] [2]

Two particularly influential writers claiming Christianity was uniquely influential on the birth of modern science, are Stanley Jaki[3], and Rodney Stark.[4] Building on the earlier work of Robert Merton,[5] who suggested that 17th century Protestant (particularly Puritan), values created an environment in which scientific inquiry was promoted sigfnificantly (known as the ‘Merton Thesis’), Jaki and Stark make the claim that the modern Western scientific tradition benefited specifically from contributions exclusive to Christianity.

The Merton Thesis is still a matter of academic debate,[6] but it is generally recognized by historians of science that Christianity made a significant positive contribution to the development of the Western scientific tradition.[7] [8] [9]

Nevertheless, it is also generally agreed that the development of modern science was not due to Christianity alone.[10] Christians who contributed to science benefited from earlier intellectual traditions inherited from the Greeks, as well as from scientific knowledge and experimentation carried out by Muslim and Jewish investigators,[11] and typically made mention of this in their own writings, citing their sources.

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[1] ‘It is, in fact, so easy a target that scholars reacting against it have constructed a revised view that has also been driven to excess.’, Brooke, ‘Science and Religion: Some historical perspectives’, p. 42 (1991).

[2] ‘Zeal for the triumph of either science or religion in the present could lure historians into Whiggish history. The works not only of Draper and White, but also of Hooykaas and Jaki fell into that category. Kenneth Thibodeau’s review in Isis of Jaki’s Science and Creation, for example, declared it “a lop-sided picture of the history of science” that “minimizes” the accomplishments of non-Christian cultures and “exaggerates” those of Christian ones (Thibodeau 1976, 112). In a review in Archives Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, William Wallace found Hooykaas’s Religion and the Rise of Modern Sciences to be “case of special pleading.” In their historiographical introduction to the book they edited, God and Nature (1986), David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers judged that Hooykaas and Jaki had “sacrificed careful history for scarcely concealed apologetics” (Lindberg and Numbers 1986, 5). Likewise some historians found Moore’s nonviolent history unacceptable: He “sometimes seems to be writing like an apologist for some view of Christianity” (La Vergata 1985, 950), criticized Antonella La Vergata in his contribution to The Darwinian Heritage (1985).’, Wilson, ‘The Historiography of Science and Religion’, in Ferngren (ed.),  ‘Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction’, p. 21 (2002).

[3] Jaki, ‘The Road of Science and the Ways to God’ (1978).

[4] Stark, ‘For the Glory of God: how monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery’ (2003).

[5] Merton, ‘Science, Technology and Society in 17th-Century England’ (1938); unlike later writers, Merton did not believe that the Puritan ethic, or Christianity itself, was essential for the successful development of modern science.

[6] ‘Scholars still debate what Merton got right and what he got wrong, and in the intervening years they have drawn a far more detailed portrait of the varied nature of the religious impetus to study nature.’, Efron, ‘Myth 9: That Christianity Gave Birth to Modern Science’, in Numbers (ed.), ‘Galileo Goes to Jail: And Other Myths About Science and Religion’, p. 10 (2010).

[7] ‘Although they disagree about nuances, today almost all historians agree that Christianity (Catholicism as well as Protestantism) moved many early- modern intellectuals to study nature systematically.4 Historians have also found that notions borrowed from Christian belief found their ways into scientific discourse, with glorious results; the very notion that nature is lawful, some scholars argue, was borrowed from Christian theology.’, ibid., pp. 80-81.

[8] ‘Historians have also found that changing Christian approaches to interpreting the Bible affected the way nature was studied in crucial ways. For example, Reformation leaders disparaged allegorical readings of Scripture, counselling their congregations to read Holy Writ literally. This approach to the Bible led some scholars to change the way they studied nature, no longer seeking the allegorical meaning of plants and animals and instead seeking what they took to be a more straightforward description of the material world.’, ibid., p. 81.

[9] ‘Finally, historians have observed that Christian churches were for a crucial millennium leading patrons of natural philosophy and science, in that they supported theorizing, experimentation, observation, exploration, documentation, and publication.’, ibid., p. 81.

[10] ‘For all these reasons, one cannot recount the history of modern science without acknowledging the crucial importance of Christianity. But this does not mean that Christianity and Christianity alone produced modern science, any more than observing that the history of modern art cannot be retold without acknowledging Picasso means that Picasso created modern art. There is simply more to the story than that.’, ibid., p. 82.

[11] ‘These men and their contemporaries all knew what some today have forgotten, that Christian astronomers (and other students of nature) owe a great debt to their Greek forebears. This was not the only debt outstanding for Christian philosophers of nature. They had also benefited directly and indirectly from Muslim and, to a lesser degree, Jewish philosophers of nature who used Arabic to describe their investigations.’, ibid., p. 83.

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Find Part 1: The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

Introduction: Where is the edge

&: Living on the edge

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Picture of Father Stanley L. Jaki

Picture of Father Stanley L. Jaki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • No Faith in Science (richarddawkins.net)
    A common tactic of those who claim that science and religion are compatible is to argue that science, like religion, rests on faith: faith in the accuracy of what we observe, in the laws of nature, or in the value of reason. Daniel Sarewitz, director of a science policy center at Arizona State University and an occasional Slate contributor, wrote this about the Higgs boson in the pages of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals: “For those who cannot follow the mathematics, belief in the Higgs is an act of faith, not of rationality.”
  • Jerry Coyne’s Twisted History of Science and Religion (forbes.com)
    In his latest post on the topic, he promotes the false belief that there is a fundamental conflict between science and religion, and he even makes the wild (and admittedly unproven) claim “that had there been no Christianity, if after the fall of Rome atheism had pervaded the Western world, science would have developed earlier and be far more advanced than it is now.” (For some thoughts on that theory, see this post.)
  • Did Christianity (and other religions) promote the rise of science? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
    The claims are diverse, but all give religion—especially Christianity—credit for science.  Religion is said to either encourage thinking (read Aquinas), impel people to do science as a way of unravelling God’s plan, lead to the idea of scientific laws (viz. Davies and Plantinga, above), or “encourage” science in some nebulous ways (this “encouragement” often seems to mean only “did not impede science.”)

    Now these claims are bogus, but if you read various histories of science, you’ll see conflict on this issue.  I’ll put my own objections below, but you should also read Richard Carrier’s 2010 article, “Christianity was not responsible for modern science.” Pp. 396-419 in J. W. Loftus, ed. The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Prometheus Books (that’s a book well worth reading, by the way.)

    Here are some of my responses to the “science came from Christianity” canard

  • A response to Bill Nye (religionron.wordpress.com)
    Nye forgets where a lot of things came from which was the study of natural law.  Science came from religion.  Many theories like the big bang theory come directly from religion, but religion was not used as the proof.  Most of sociology comes from a religious core.  Physics has theories that border on pantheism.  You wont here this from Nye because all religion is bad.We do agree on a few things though.  I do not think religion should be taught as science.  Likewise I don’t think science should ever be philosophy or religion.  Its one thing to put in a history book or even an astronomy book the origin of the big bang theory but we shouldn’t use it as a proof of the theory.
  • Science and Religion… (jesusavesisrael.wordpress.com)
    The fact of the matter is that science and faith complement each other, and there is no conflict between true science and true religion. Together they give the best foundation for wholesome faith and courage for daily living. When Galileo, the father of modern science, discovered that the earth revolved, instead of the sun moving around the earth, certain religious leaders were greatly disturbed, for they held another theory. But eventually they were reconciled.
  • Reason Illuminates Faith (in the Middle Ages) (thesoapboxguild.wordpress.com)
    What do the Middle Ages and scientific ideas have to do with each other? Quite a bit more than you might think. Unlike the thoughts brought to mind by words like the “Dark Ages,” the medieval period was not a totally backwards time of ignorance and superstition (though as in any era, both were present!), but one of intellectual formation that proved critically necessary for modern science to develop.
  • Both science and religion have a place under the sun (thehindu.com)
    When we discuss the relevance of science and religion, it will be misleading to look at it through the “either-or” prism. Among scientists, there are many who are religious and similarly among the religious, there are many who have a scientific frame of mind. Far from being founded on the fear of the unknown, true religion is founded on the faith in the grace of the unknowable.

    It is easy to define religion opportunistically and then decry it. If we associate terrorists with religion, as Prof. Natarajan has done, religion becomes nefarious. If we understand religion as an enquiry into the ultimate purpose of life and equate it with spirituality, the merits of religion will become manifest.
    +
    Prof. Natarajan has tried to understand why humans invented the concept of God and denounced it by quoting Albert Einstein. It has been a universal practice cutting across all religions to describe what we don’t understand (essentially what is called ‘mysterious’) as acts of God. Einstein was appreciative of this phenomenon and that is why he said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science” and “Science without Religion is lame; Religion without Science is blind”.

  • Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (thehaynesblog.com)
    Last night Joshua and I attended a lecture by the Rev. Prof. David Wilkinson entitled “Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”  He holds a PhD in theoretical astrophysics, a PhD in systematic theology, and he is a Methodist Minister.  He is one who is well equipped to engaged the questions posed by some today: “What will Christianity do if or when we do make contact with alien life forms?”  Some have said that it will be the end of faith as we know it.  Some Christians have welcomed it as proof of an omnipotent God.  Additionally, there are a million questions in between.
  • No Faith in Science (secularnewsdaily.com)
    A common tactic of those who claim that science and religion are compatible is to argue that science, like religion, rests on faith: faith in the accuracy of what we observe, in the laws of nature, or in the value of reason. Daniel Sarewitz, director of a science policy center at Arizona State University and an occasional Slate contributor, wrote this about the Higgs boson in the pages of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals: “For those who cannot follow the mathematics, belief in the Higgs is an act of faith, not of rationality.”
  • No Faith in Science (slate.com)
    What about the public and other scientists’ respect for authority? Isn’t that a kind of faith? Not really. When Richard Dawkins talks or writes about evolution, or Lisa Randall about physics, scientists in other fields—and the public—have confidence that they’re right. But that, too, is based on the doubt and criticism inherent in science (but not religion): the understanding that their expertise has been continuously vetted by other biologists or physicists. In contrast, a priest’s claims about God are no more demonstrable than anyone else’s. We know no more now about the divine than we did 1,000 years ago.