Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed? In the May 4, 1936 edition of the Presbyterian Guardian (now on-line), Dr. J. Gresham Machen wrote an article on what constituted schism. The times in which he was writing were perilous times for both Reformed ministers and the members of their churches. Already a Mandate had been…
“Nobody knows who the four evangelists were, but they almost certainly never met Jesus personally. Much of what they wrote was in no sense an honest attempt at history. . . . The gospels are ancient fiction.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
If Dawkins is correct, one might imagine the following conversation . . .
Luke: Let’s have another round of drinks. I’ve an idea I want to run past you.
John: Sure. What’s on your mind?
Luke: You probably heard about the Nazarene named Jesus who was crucified yesterday. I think he could be the perfect candidate for our fake Messiah project.
Mark: One tiny problem: he’s dead!
Luke: Yes, but that means we’ll control the narrative. We’ll be in charge of his reputation.
Matthew: Who would follow a dead Messiah?
Luke: Nobody, so we’ll begin with a resurrection myth. We’ll hire some thugs to fight off the soldiers guarding his tomb so we can get rid of the corpse.
John: But a missing corpse isn’t the same as a resurrection.
Luke: You’re right, so we’ll have to persuade Jesus’s friends to spend the next 30 years telling everyone he’s risen from the dead, even if sticking to that story means they’ll be imprisoned or killed.
Mark: Okay, then what?
Luke: Well, to make a conspiracy credible you need precise details. So we’ll invent stories where Jesus interacts with people in specific locations.
Matthew: Won’t people just disprove the stories by visiting those places and asking around?
Luke: There’s no need to worry about that. We could invent a story about a synagogue ruler’s terminally ill daughter being healed, give the synagogue ruler a name, set it all in a particular place, and still no one—absolutely no one, not even the people living in that place—would trouble to fact-check. Everyone would simply swallow the story whole!
Mark: It sounds like we’re on safe ground there. But if we want people to follow Jesus, he’ll need a message. People have been waiting for the Messiah for centuries. He’s got to be worth listening to when he finally appears.
John: Good point. I’ll cook up some deep quotes.
Luke: Thanks, John. Mark’s right: you’ll need to put profound wisdom on Jesus’s lips that theological scholars can happily study for their entire careers.
John: Not a problem.
Luke: Guys, it will take us a while to put these documents together. We need to get communities of people worshiping Jesus in the meantime so that when our books come out they’ll get a good reception.
Mark: There’s a guy I know called Saul, he could help with that.
Luke: Saul the Pharisee? I can’t imagine him getting involved with this kind of thing.
Mark: Trust me, he’s our man. I see him leaving behind everything he’s been trained to do and planting congregations of Jesus worshipers throughout the Roman Empire, whatever it costs him personally—beatings, shipwrecks, and the like.
Matthew: Awesome. But Luke, can you just remind me, what’s the point of all this? I mean, what exactly do we get out of this?
Luke: Come on, Matt, it will be so much fun. We’ll watch people being brutally martyred, and we’ll know they’ve been deceived by our dishonest fiction! What’s not to like about that?
John: I agree with Luke. This is definitely worth years of effort on our part. Count me in.
Mark: Me too.
Matthew: I’ll do it if my name comes first in all the promotional material.
Luke: Deal. Let’s get to work.
Lemon Curd Cheesecake Eggs – Recipe by Elise Strachan
225 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tin (400 g) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
60 ml lemon juice
12 hollow white chocolate Easter eggs (6 cm tall), store-bought or homemade
60 g lemon curd
Beat the cream cheese using an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the condensed milk until smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and beat again until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Gently knock the top off the Easter eggs to create a small opening, creating a cracked shell effect.
Place the chilled cheesecake mixture into a piping bag, snip off a 1 cm opening and pipe the cheesecake into the eggs to just below the rim (you will have leftover cheesecake filling; this can be frozen for up to a month). Refrigerate the eggs for 1 hour.
Scoop a small well in the centre of each egg with a teaspoon, fill with 1 tsp of lemon curd and tap gently on a work surface to help flatten it (to look like the yolk in the centre of the egg).
Homemade White Chocolate Easter Eggs:
Melt 250 g of white compound chocolate. Paint a layer into an Easter egg chocolate mould about 6 cm tall by 4 cm wide. Set in the fridge, then paint a second coat of melted chocolate. Return to the fridge. Remove the eggs from the mould. Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Lightly touch the rims of two egg halves onto the hot surface for 3 seconds so they just start to melt, then quickly press the melted edges together. You will need 12 eggs in total.
A great Appam recipe.
Jack the Pumpkin Lantern and Halloween Cupcakes – Recipe by Candice Clayton
I use my favorite packet jelly mix and follow…
Alsace Duck Confit
One piece of advice for this dish – follow the recipe! The result will be rewarding. “Inspired by the…
Scampi with Saffron and Olive Butter – Chef Recipe by Nathan Outlaw
A great Scampi with Saffron and Olive Butter – Chef Recipe by Nathan Outlaw recipe.
Daily devotional readings in Scripture, the Westminster Standards, & Presbyterian history.
STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard Van Horn.
A. — God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
Scripture References: John 4:24; Mal. 3:6; Psa. 147:5; Rev. 19:6; Isa. 57:15; Deut. 32:4; Rom. 2:4; Psa. 117.2.
1. Why is this question so fundamental for the soul of man?
It is essential for Hebrews 9:6 states, “He that cometh unto God, must believe that he is.” If man can accept the first words of Scripture, “In the beginning God . . .” he is on the right road, for this is a truth upon which all other truths depend.
2. How can we accept and know this basic truth?
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, reveals God to us and it is only through Christ that we come to God. The Bible says, “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
3. In the light of the answer to Question Number Four, with what attitude should we approach God?
We should approach Him as the Almighty, Sovereign God. In the front of a particular church, in plain sight of the congregation there was a sign: “Know Whom Before You Stand!” We should always approach Him in our thoughts, words and deeds with the recognition that He is all that the answer to this question proclaims Him to be. ‘
4. What is meant by the statement, “God is a Spirit?”
The meaning is that He is invisible, without body or bodily parts, not like a man or any other creature. (From Minutes of Session of Westminster Assembly).
5. In Theology what term do we use in regard to the adjectives used to describe God?
We call these the attributes of God and separate them into His incommunicable and communicable attributes.
6. Why do we separate them in this way?
We separate them in this way because His incommunicable attributes are not found in any way in his creatures. These are His Infinity, eternity and unchangeableness. His communicable attributes, (being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth), are found in some degree in man. Obviously, in man, these attributes are faint, limited and imperfect as compared with God.
“God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24). These words, spoken by Jesus to the woman at the well, are words for today. There is much worship going on today, but “let us examine ourselves” — is our worship true worship? Man was created for fellowship with God and the worship of God occupies a lofty place in attaining unto that fellowship.
How can we worship Him in spirit and in truth? Only when we worship Him with the knowledge of what he is savingly in Christ for the benefit of lost sinners. When there is this realization in the individual soul, it is possible for the person to begin the worship of God according to His will. It is then that the soul will be able to say with Moses, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). It is only when man is saved through personal faith in Jesus Christ that he is able to approach his Maker with the right attitude in worship.
In Presbyterian circles the charge has often been made that the service is too cold, too formal. If such be true, could the reason for it be found in the failure of the congregation to worship in spirit and in truth? Many people feel that worship has to do with ceremonies or visible observances. Indeed, many are inclined to feel that it is difficult to worship unless stained glass windows, divided chancel and beautiful music are all present. We must not forget that the worship of God is spiritual. Calvin stated, “If we manifest a becoming reverence toward him only when we prefer his will to our own, it follows that there is no other legitimate worship of Him but the observance of righteousness, sanctity, and purity.”
Not long ago I was in the replica of the first Presbyterian church established in Claiborne County, Mississippi. A simple log building with a handmade pulpit is all that meets the eye of the worshiper. The thought came to me that after all, real worship has to do with our recognition of the Greatness of the Sovereign God. When we understand who He is, when our lives honor His Sovereignity, when we understand we are sinful creatures redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, it is then that we are more nearly able to worship Him as we should. Arthur W. Pink tells us that our attitude toward the Almighty, Sovereign God should be one of godly fear, implicit obedience, entire resignation and deep thankfulness and joy. These characteristics of a born again person will enable him to worship in spirit and in truth.