The End of the Road


Thanks for visiting A Christian's Deliberations.

For a few years this blog had a good run with some less formal posts on thoughts and issues in the church and in society and many book reviews.

Yet over the years this blog has been neglected. It's been easier to post book reviews on Goodreads; most of my posts have been put elsewhere.

Thus A Christian's Deliberations is being dissolved.

Substantive posts, as well as many other articles, are now available at de Verbo vitae.

Book reviews can be found at Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Also please consider the Spiritual Manna devotional.

Thanks again!



XXX: Attitudes Toward Constancy

26 October 2006 Common Era

It happens every fall: the leaves turn color and fall to the ground.

We then have to go out and rake the leaves, only to find more leaves on the ground when we're done. It can many times be a frustrating experience.

Yet, when we really think about it, how much of our lives are constants? Every year the leaves fall and need to be raked. Every year the lawn needs constant mowing. Hair grows and needs cutting. The same meal gets eaten time after time.

Constants, after all, are unavoidable. Constants are much vilified in the media; after all, no one begins a marketing campaign by advertising that they are selling the same old product. New! Exciting! Different! That's what people seem to seek. Anything, however, can become a constant. After awhile, that which is new becomes old. That which is different will become normal. Constancy always seems to win out.

Since constancy is unavoidable, how do we view and handle it? Many times constancy is viewed in terms of monotony and drudgery. Doing the same thing over and over again just becomes tiring, and all we want to do is to get out and do something else. It's very difficult to persevere with this attitude, and if the incentives are perceived to not be worth the effort, there will be little reason to continue the constant. We have the choice, however, to look at it another way. We can decide to seek meaning and/or to be thankful for the constants in our lives. Meal after meal may seem to get boring, but at least we have meals to eat. Work may be repetitious, but at least it provides the ability to provide for the household.

What about the spiritual constants in our lives? How are we deciding to view them?

We are to assemble with the saints constantly (Hebrews 10:24). Do we look at the assembly as drudgery, a three-hour weekly sentence? Or are we thankful for our brethren and the opportunity to encourage one another often?

We partake of the Lord's Supper weekly (1 Corinthians 11:23-27, Acts 20:7). Have we made it an empty ritual we do because of a sense of obligation, or do we seek to remember our Lord and rejoice in the communion of the saints?

Prayer and song are to be constantly a part of our lives (1 Corinthians 14:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:13, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). Do we just let the prayers and songs roll off our tongue in a mechanized way, or do we appreciate the opportunity to make our petitions before our Lord and gain encouragement by considering the great messages within the songs we sing?

Spiritual constants remain outside of the assembly also. We can do all we can to help the poor (Galatians 6:10, James 1:27), but we always have more people who have requests. Do we begrudgingly continue to try to help, or are we constantly in remembrance that we should thankfully give to others since God has given us so much? We strive to proclaim the Word of God to the people in our lives (Matthew 28:18-20). Do we get discouraged when we do not see results? Does the constant chorus of negative responses and indifference get us down? Consider the prophets to Israel: Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and many others preached the need for repentance to the people for decades, and they did not listen. Yet, it is as it is written in Zechariah 1:4-6:
Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets cried, saying,
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Return ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me," saith the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? and they turned and said,
"Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us. "
The sons learned and did not follow in the idolatry of their fathers. Despite the many trials of evangelism, we must take comfort in realizing that our efforts are not in vain in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can choose to look at evangelism as showing the love of God to others, just as He has loved us, and may God get the glory.

Yes, constants are unavoidable. Our attitudes regarding constants, however, can change. We can decide to look at life in terms of monotonous drudgery, making ourselves and those around us miserable, or we can learn to appreciate constants and make them meaningful to us. You can focus on the leaves as they are beautiful on the tree or as the drudgery of leaves needing raking on the ground; you can focus on how boring the same old spiritual constants seem to be, or you can find meaning and appreciation in remembering what God has done for us while encouraging the saints. What shall we choose?



XXVI: Deliverance from this Crooked Generation

25 May 2006
And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation," (Acts 2:40).
Brethren, it is high time that we remember this summation of Peter's message and begin applying it in our own preaching and in our own lives.

I was looking through a certain bulletin today (it will remain nameless, because such is immaterial) and was struck by how entirely doctrinally fixated it was.

Now, I realize that doctrine is certainly important and it has its place, but it's not 1840 anymore. We don't live in a country that is mostly evangelical Protestant and therefore we do not have the luxury of just sitting around and arguing the finer parts of doctrine. Likewise, we cannot continue to labor under the delusion that most people know what they should be doing and therefore we can just gloss over matters of morality and Christian practice.

Probably the fastest religion growing in America is "no" religion. Biblical literacy is even more dismal....many adults who went to "Sunday school" in their childhood do not even know many of the basics of the Bible, let alone the large and growing number of entirely "unchurched" people out there.

In reality, the message of Peter is the message we need to get out today. We must strive to exhort people to save themselves from this crooked and perverted generation.

We need to exhort in the pulpit to the pews the need to save ourselves from this crooked and perverted generation. We have no hope of bringing people to the light of Christ if our assemblies have the hint of darkness. I fear that too often we get the idea that Christians know what they should be doing when it comes to moral practice and are out doing it, and therefore we can spend our time in the assembly talking either about more whimsical things or about purely theoretical matters. There are times for light-heartedness, and there are times for theoretical matters, but we cannot neglect the matters of Christian moral practice. Consider the New Testament letters, brethren: Paul, writing to Christians, constantly exhorted them to remain pure from the world, to not engage in the works of the flesh but strive for the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:19-23, Romans 12:1-2). This has not ceased in its relevance.

I have found a disturbing trend when it comes to some of the lessons I have preached both in Norwalk and previously in Rochelle, notably, that after some lessons brethren will come up to me and will say that they have never heard the subject matter preached like that before, or preached at all. I am not even speaking of lessons on certain doctrinal matters, but lessons regarding the practice of the Christian life. Are we so confident that everyone is doing what they need to be doing so much that we are not even willing to act as if we're reminding our brethren about these things? The Apostles were not that confident!

I realize that many times it is hard to preach on difficult subjects in Christian practice...but it needs to be done. Think about the assembly for a minute. The assembly is there as the refreshing station, the time we take out of our week when we hold off on the battles we fight against the temptations out in the world to encourage one another and to be encouraged ourselves. What, should we never talk about how to wage the battle out in the world when we're together? Is that really going to help people in their quest to fight the good fight and endure (Ephesians 6:10-18)? The time that we come together should be a time to recoup, a time to consider our fighting and our battle plans and spur one another on to keep going and keep doing better, and to provide the necessary equipment and reinforcement to fight the battle. In physical war every soldier must return to base to be briefed again, to re-arm, and to get reinforcements. In our spiritual war, do we make our assemblies to fit that need? Or do we just spend the time in our obtuseness, patting ourselves on the back continually because we've got it all figured out on the theoretical end? We're losing the battle on too many fronts, brethren, because we're not properly reinforcing one another and not having the camaraderie that leads to a close-knit community. It is only when people get involved spiritually, both with one another and in the assembly, that they are truly getting the assistance they need to fight the good fight. I am well aware that there are many who refuse to involve themselves so, and it should not surprise us when we see them lagging in the fight and being the weak. In the end, all we can do is the best we can-- and for those who preach and teach, consider the profitability of what is being preached and taught and whether it is truly keeping the saints armed and ready for the struggle.

Let me also speak about the assembly for a moment. The assembly is well and good, brethren, but we need to stop acting as if it is the sum of the Christian life. Now I know what you're going to say-- "but, Ethan, we all know that the assembly isn't everything!" If you think that's the case, then stop acting like it. Stop equating "faithful Christian" with "Christian always at least warming the pew". When you need to think of some sin, or someone not doing as they ought, think of something other than "forsaking the assembly". Realize that when one is not assembling with the brethren, there is a problem, but the problem is not the forsaking of the assembly...the problem lies somewhere else. The symptom you see is the forsaking of the assembly...and rebuking on account of that is as useful as fighting a fever while not working on trying to cure what caused the fever.

Why are Christians bored with Christianity? Why do we lose young people? There are many reasons, to be sure, but I am convinced that one of them is that we have reduced Christianity to being in a building three times a week. Hey, we've done well-- our numbers are better than the numbers of all denominations. But has that really led to people being saved, obeying Christ in all things as they ought?

If you want a church full of people there every service because they feel obligated to, accept theoretically what is said but do little about it, and feel complacent, well, you can continue to focus on the historical foci and keep going as always. Continue that trend long enough and see how many doors get permanently closed within a generation and a half. We need to return to the Bible, brethren, and make Biblical foci our foci. The assembly is a part-- a part-- of our life of service to God. It is the easiest part, the refreshing part, the time when we get to encourage one another. The hard part is going out there into the world and not only refuse to conform but demand transformation. That's the challenging and exciting part, and we've steamrolled it in order to "preserve" the assembly. Not only that, but be a part of the lives of your brethren outside of that assembly. Watch how much more encouraged your brethren will be when you are constantly with them, constantly engaged with them, and making them constantly feel a part of the community. You may just find that even though the assembly is not the only focus anymore, more people come to the assembly. Amazing!

Along with spreading the message inside the assembly, every one of us needs to be out spreading Peter's message to the world: save yourselves from this crooked and perverted generation! This message is going to force us to reconsider our assumptions and pre-conceived notions about the way people are in America. Let's face the facts:

1. Most are nominally Christian only.
2. Most cannot tell you the basics of the Biblical narrative.
3. Most people think that it's good enough to just be a "good person".
4. Many people are skeptical about organized religion based not in substantive ground but pre-conceived notions they have gained from their own limited experience and the general cultural idea of Christianity.
5. Most people have barely ever picked up a Bible.
6. When most people think of Christianity, they think of the odd but prevalent synthesis society holds: a bit of Catholic practice and hierarchy plus Puritanical concepts of sex and sin and hell with a bit of Evangelical conceptualization of America as God's Chosen Land and Americans as God's Chosen People, along with "once saved, always saved," and increasingly the idea of a megachurch with its entertainment-called-worship.

The long and short of it is, brethren, that we have to act as if people know nothing about God and the Bible and we have to go out and make the message relevant to them. You do not have to compromise God's Word to make it relevant-- you may have to cast aside your own perspective for a minute, but not God's Word. The Bible is relevant today-- I am convinced of that. But in order to show its relevance, we're going to have to accept the prophetic burden.

Yes, that's right, I said "prophetic burden". I know that anything regarding the modern day and "prophet" is immediately suspect in churches of Christ, and with understandable reason, and I am certainly not advocating the idea that we have to somehow find a source of inspiration and thus speak to people.

What I am saying, however, is that we need to look into the message of the prophets of old and make it our own. Prophets, brethren, did not just sit around and write various messages so that people 400-700 years later would know that Jesus was the Christ. While predicting various aspects of the future and heralding the coming King was certainly one aspect of prophecy, you will find that the majority of prophets and prophecy is God sending a message to the people via a prophet, and that message is normally the need to repent and why. Prophets of old were the critical link between God and the people, informing the people when they had strayed, how they had strayed, and how to return.

It is always amazing to me to read the prophets and see just how relevant their message is even today. The Hosea study in which we have engaged has shown this powerfully. Consider what Hosea said and think for yourselves how applicable it is today.
Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood, (Hosea 4:1-2).

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children. As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me: I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity, (Hosea 4:6-8).

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings, (Hosea 6:4-6)

Woe unto them! for they have wandered from me; destruction unto them! for they have trespassed against me: though I would redeem them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, but they howl upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, they rebel against me. Though I have taught and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me, (Hosea 7:13-15).
Change a few of the details and you have a ready-made lesson to modern man, for the same ills plaguing Israel of old plague America today.

Now, as I have said and firmly believe, there are no prophets today. That is why I say that we have to pick up the prophetic burden-- the burden of delivering God's message to the people. Do not be concerned that God has not specifically called you and given you a specific message, for you have eyes and ears. You can see what is said in the Scriptures and understand God's message, and you can hear what is said in society and what is advocated in society and therefore proclaim how it is that people can save themselves from this perverted and crooked generation. The people have no knowledge of God; go out and tell them about God. The people are engaging in lawlessness; go out and rebuke the lawlessness. The people have forgotten their God; go and remind them. Yes, your reward might be similar to the persecution of the prophets, yet we must trust that we will obtain the prophet's reward. Regardless, remember-- if not you, who will? Paul felt the burden of preaching so acutely that he cried, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16)...that we would feel that burden so acutely!

Get up, brethren. The time is now, and it is fading fast. Souls need saving. Doctrine is well and good, and ought to be preached and reinforced, yet we must always keep in mind what is truly important. Let us not get complacent and think that everyone in the pews has it all figured out and knows exactly what to do; you'd be surprised. Let us not think that people of the world are entirely hostile to Christ; by in large they do not know enough to be hostile to Him. Teach your fellow man, not just by word, but in practice. Sure, your light might blind him so as to cause him to wish to return to the darkness, and there is no helping that situation-- but remember, your light can also attract such a one, and lead to that soul's salvation.

Are you tired of being in a dying, old, stuck-in-the-mud congregation? Get up and get converting, and the vitality will return. Get up and encourage your brethren, both within and without the assembly, and the vitality will return. Encourage people to have the proper perspective of the place of the assembly within the context of the Christian life, and the vitality will return.

We can speak in terms of doomsday or we can speak in terms of a renaissance of the church. The result will be on the basis of whether we accept the call to which we have been summoned.
"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," (Matthew 28:19-20).


X: Forgetting Origins

11 September 2005 Common Era
Have ye not known? have yet not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
Isaiah 40:21 ASV
A very common matter in Christianity is the forgetting of origins of practices and concepts, both those that the Scriptures authorize and also those that have no authorization in Scripture. Many a practice and belief has its origin later than the time of the Apostles, and is either legitimate by Biblical liberty or given an air of legitimacy over time. One man's innovation, after all, is a later generation's tradition.

We could spend many a blog post speaking about the way this played out in Catholicism, with the Christmas and Easter observances, the veneration of Mary and the saints, and all the various rituals that find themselves more at home in a Roman or northern European pagan festival than in an assembly of Christians.

Instrumental music, also, along with the building of fellowship halls and gymnasiums and all other similar things found their origins far later than the original preaching of the Gospel. These innovations, clung to in the name of tradition and liberty, are not only foreign to but also unauthorized in the Scriptures.

While many an unScriptural innovation has been perpetuated over time, it is also problematic when legitimate exercision of Biblical liberty is perverted on account of people forgetting the origin of the authority. The greatest example of this would be the church building.

We read the following in Hebrews 10:24-25:
and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.
We are thus commanded to assemble, and in the pages of the Scriptures, we see Christians assembling in the Temple (Acts 2:48), Solomon's Portico (Acts 4:12), and homes (Philemon 1:2). Since we have multiple, inconsistent examples, we can conclude that Christians have been authorized to meet in whatever way they deem profitable, and it is upon this foundation that the church is authorized to have a building. It expedites the command given to us above.

As time has gone on, many a person has neglected to remember that such is the origin of the authority of the church building. Human logic and standards are introduced: "using the building only 4 hours a week is not good stewardship"; "the church is people, not a building, therefore, we can use the building for whatever purpose we find profitable"; and so on and so forth.

I fail to see why anyone truly interested in doing all things according to the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:17) would want to try to pile on usages of the building with its already shaky authority. Christians have been commanded to assemble-- they have not been commanded to have weddings, nor to have funerals, nor to allow the Boy Scouts in, nor to have a potluck together, or any such thing**. If we are going to expedite examples, or inferences, or whatever we feel like expediting, I would like to see some Biblical authority-- and the demonstration of necessity-- for engaging in such matters.

It is argued by many that having the building only to assemble on Sunday and Wednesday is an attempt to sacramentalize the building, as is seen in many denominations. It is not because the building is "holy" or for "sanctified use" that the examples above are problematic-- the problem is that the building is based on the liberty of where we may choose to assemble. If anything, the use of a building for weddings and funerals lead to the temptation to associate the building with sanctified spirituality!

Let us continue to apply Biblical authority properly, remembering where the authority for practices, beliefs, and especially liberties, originates.


**-- it can be argued that in situations where brethren are poor, the church can offer the use of its building as benevolence to saints for a funeral service, and possibly a wedding. Otherwise, I see no Biblical rationalization for such things.


IX: Preaching the Gospel

07 September 2005 Common Era

It never ceases to amaze me what passes as "evangelism" and "preaching the Gospel" anymore. Apparently, the time-tested means of the New Testament have not proven satisfactory to many, and so all kinds of other appeals are made than simply "Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Apparently, in our modern society, it's not good enough to have "merely" a spiritual message. If you don't have the "stuff" that people are looking for, you won't get "converts". Let us survey the denominational world-- and, increasingly, in "churches of Christ": potlucks, gymnasiums, concerts, and all other kind of social and entertainment events, all done in the name of evangelism! Does any of this conform to what we see in the New Testament?

"But these things are popular, and how can they be wrong?", many will argue. "After all, Jesus fed people." Well, yes, He did. Let's look at what occurred.
Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would. And when they were filled, he saith unto his disciples,
"Gather up the broken pieces which remain over, that nothing be lost."
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves, which remained over unto them that had eaten.
When therefore the people saw the sign which he did, they said, "This is of a truth the prophet that cometh into the world."
John 6:11-14 ASV
Wow! Jesus fed the people and they recognized Him as a prophet! Yet wait...

Jesus departs, lest the people make Him into a King. When the people track Him down the next day, and they ask why He departed, He responds,
Jesus answered them and said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed."
John 6:26-27 ASV
Jesus then exhorts them to not labor for the bread that perishes, but the bread of eternal life-- Himself. He then teaches them "difficult things," the need to eat His body and drink His blood...the Lord's Supper, and yet also the suffering and sacrifice He would endure. The result of the preaching?
Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, "Would ye also go away?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
John 6:66-68 ASV
Out of how many thousands of people....the original twelve. Not one person-- no, not one-- of those who had not formerly been with Jesus but were present to eat the food remained when the spiritual subjects came forth. The people were more than willing to accept Jesus as the prophet when He gave them physical bread...but when it came time to hear the message of truth, one that causes unease on account of the need for sacrifice and suffering, they fled.

It is a truth, then, that when you preach with food, you get converts to food. This applies to any physical enticement; after all, as it is written,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 ASV
It is exceedingly difficult to convert people to eternal life when you offer them but temporal things. When evangelism is reduced to food drives, hospital care, childcare, and other "social services", people equate "churches" or "Christians" with such things, and not the matters of the Spirit.

We have been commanded, individually, to assist others. The judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46 is presented in terms of whether one has assisted those in need or not. On the other hand, helping those in need is a way by which you reflect Christ's light in you (Matthew 5:13-16), leading people to the spiritual message. It is not the spiritual message. It is not the object of our goal. When social services are substitutes for the Gospel, people may be physically helped, but are not saved...and therefore, we have failed.

How, then, should the Gospel be preached? Look at how the message was delivered in the first century! Yes, the Apostles did work signs and wonders, but that was not preaching the Gospel-- that was demonstrating the fact that God had given them authority. People were brought to the Gospel because of the message. They heard the message and desired to respond. The message-- that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross so that we may have remission of sin-- was enough to get people excited and to revel in their removal from sin and death. The Apostles did not need to stage a potluck. They did not have to set up a concert to get people to come. They simply went out and presented the message to whomever would hear.

And you know, we might just be surprised at the results if we tried to do that ourselves. Let us cease trying to pass the buck of preaching the Gospel onto social systems, or onto collective, collaborative projects, or on the evangelist, but take up our burden and tell people how to get out of sin and death. People are no less in sin today than they were 2,000 years ago. The antidote to sin is also still the same.



V: Shaking the Faith?

30 November 2004 Common Era

A marketing campaign is in full gear: for two weeks in a row, somewhat vague advertisements have appeared in Newsweek magazine parroting a new show from The Discovery Channel. The topic? Ancient Egypt, specifically the reign of Ramses II, and the continuing dig in the KV5 tomb, the large tomb for the children of Ramses II.

The purpose? Well, Kent Weeks, KV5 excavator, obviously thinks that he has found the skull of the oldest son of Ramses II. This is being capitalized upon-- whether by Weeks himself or more prompted by TDC I do not know-- as an opportunity to make a splash to promote the subject and the ongoing dig. What is the capital? The Bible, of course. The show is being parroted as a challenge to Judaism and Christianity, a dare to see whether faith can "hold up" to the potential "crack" of the son of Ramses II.

What does all of this mean? Well, the implicit assumption being made is that if the Biblical text is right, Ramses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, and therefore his son would have paid the penalty of the tenth plague-- the killing of the Egyptian firstborn. If the skeletal evidence from this child does not show such a death, i.e. he died of some disease or foul play, the Biblical text therefore must be wrong...or that, at least, is how the marketing would make it out to be.

I have watched with dismay how certain channels which used to be somewhat more reliable for disseminating historical and scientific information-- The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, and so forth-- have become more "infotainment" than information dissemination. As time wears on the "entertainment" part seems to be triumphing over the "information" part, and it appears that The Discovery Channel is more than willing to promote one theory of the Exodus in order to perhaps tear it down to gain an audience.

Let me say now that I have not seen the show, nor have any idea as to whether or not the child's skeleton will show evidence "for" or "against" the Biblical account. It does not matter to me whatsoever, because there is an underlying problem with the entire presentation: if one believes in the accuracy of the Bible, Ramses II is not the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

1 Kings 6:1, when providing the account of the opening of the Temple in Jerusalem under Solomon, notes that such occurred 480 years after the Exodus. If we assign Solomon a date of around 950 BCE, this would leave us with 1430 BCE as the timeframe of the Exodus. Ramses II reigned during the thirteenth century-- ca. 1290-1220-- which would be more in harmony with the period of the Judges than the Exodus.

Modern scholasticism, if it would even accept the notion of an Exodus, since many believe that the Exodus was an epic narrative invented to glorify an otherwise banal conquest/gradual infiltration of Canaan, may perhaps desire to place the Exodus around the end of the period of Ramses II, or possibly during his son Merneptah, of whom we have a stelae that records a victory over "Israel," the first such reference in Egyptian writing we have to date. The widespread belief about Ramses II being the Pharaoh of the Exodus, however, dates far before the 21st century. Ramses II is one of the best-known pharaohs of Egypt, and he wanted it that way: no one else matched his output of statues and co-opting the statues of his predecessors. Perhaps only Tutankhamun is more well-known thanks to the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in the 1920s. Ramses II was believed for many years to have been the greatest pharaoh in terms of strength and military output. Since American and European societies were dominated by the Bible and ancient Israel, it was natural to combine the most recognized pharaoh of Egypt with greatest event involving Egypt in the Bible. The evidence for an Israelite exodus under Ramses II has more to do with preconception than reality.

Arguably the most powerful and most effective pharaoh militarily was not Ramses II but his predecessor Thutmose III, whose military campaigns resulted in the largest extent of empire Egypt would ever know-- and that without a glorified stalemate! According to the Biblical chronology he would be the Pharaoh of the Oppression, with his son Amenhotep II the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This would put the wanderings during the times of Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III, and the conquest under Joshua during the tumultous Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten reign which saw massive internal instability and a laissez-faire attitude toward Egyptian holdings in Canaan. At Akhenaten's capital, today's Tell el-Amarna, a cache of letters was found, full of correspondence between the Canaanite petty kings and Akhenaten, many of them appealing for aid in the face of attacks from the "'Apiru," perhaps a reference to the invading Israelites. This would place Israel in the times of the Judges during the renaissance of the Egyptian New Kingdom under Seti I and Ramses II, and Israel would be present in the land during the invasion of Merneptah.

So will anything The Discovery Channel shows about the child of Ramses II shake the faith? Absolutely not. Far greater and better combatants of the truth have come and gone, and it is almost humorous to see such money expended on a dead-end road. But the concern is that The Discovery Channel may end up shaking the faith of some who do not have this knowledge, who do not know what 1 Kings 6:1 means in terms of the Exodus, who do not know that the answer would lie with Amenhotep II and not Ramses II (the former, by the way, did lose his firstborn son; his younger son, Thutmose IV, commemorated his unlikely accession by placing a stelae in the paws of the Sphinx detailing how his elder brother died). They may have never thought anything else regarding Ramses and the Exodus, and this is why I write about it, and this is why The Discovery Channel currently disgusts me. It parrots itself as a source of legitimate, viable information, and it has sold out to create hype and make a cheap buck. It would rather lose integrity and willingly attempt to erode faith in the God of Israel for their own profit.

As for you, be not disturbed by the show. As for them, well, they will answer to the higher authority for their actions.