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Archology and Religious Faith

A Consideration Of Faith That Demands To Be Informed by Archology By Ronnie Bray

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often assailed by non-LDS Christians with the charge that there is no archological evidence for the Book of Mormon, to which are added statements about the reliability of the Bible based on archological findings. These charges would be pertinent if it was simply a matter of setting out the archological evidence in support of or against the content of each these volumes of sacred scripture. However, that is not what is at stake. Those convinced that the Holy Bible is the word of God and elicit evidence from the work of archologists in support of their belief have an 'all-or-nothing' approach to the subject in that they accept all archological findings in favour of Bibles veracity, and accept nothing that supports the Book of Mormons veracity. Their starting point is that the Holy Bible is the inerrant word of God, and the Book of Mormon owes nothing to God. They then proceed to sift and sort the evidence throwing everything that they consider supportive of the Bible into one pile and throwing away anything that hints of support for the Book of Mormons divine origin. The

result is they state there is not one iota of archological support for the Book of Mormon, but overwhelming support for the Holy Bible. What it is necessary to establish before any conclusion can be reached is exactly is meant by archology proves the Bible is true, and whether by true is meant that the spiritual content of the book is accurate on all points, in all places, and is, therefore, unassailable. If that is so, then the onus of proof is on the claimant. To date, no such claims of the eternal verities of the Bible have been proven, despite the efforts of biblical archologists. The difficulty they face, but frequently do not acknowledge, is that they can only endeavour to confirm some of the history of the Holy Bible, but nothing in history, whether biblical or extrabiblical, can confirm whether the spiritual teachings of the Holy Library are either from God, or are representative of the nature, character, and characteristics of God, or whether they represent Gods divine will and direction for those to whom the original monographs came. If ancient foundations are uncovered around the ancient city of Jericho, Bible archologists claim that this proves that the power of God made the walls fall down and give the victory to Joshua and his armies. Of course, such a discovery proves nothing of the kind. It only proves that ancient Jericho was once a walled city and that its walls fell down. Archologists are powerless to prove by what power or under what circumstances the walls came tumbling down. That answer, for devotional; purposes, can only be gained by religious faith, never from archology.

The Bible is not about places, history, anthropology, science, politics or other matters, although they are all touched on in one place or another as incidentals to the salvation history of a people as the God of Israel guides his people to save them. The Bible is predominantly concerned with theological ideas that changed or were changed as the revelation of God led them from one phase of understanding into another, or as the result of editorial activity to provide support, as for instance, the Deuteronomistic reforms, and the establishment of the temple at Jerusalem as the only authorised temple at which Israel should serve God, and at other times to change the language when it was considered necessary to moderate certain sentences on the grounds of theological sensitivity, and so forth. Finding place names and places known by the names of places known in the Bible provides no proof that the revelations of the nebi'im and roelim were divinely inspired, nor that God appeared in plain sight to Moses and seventy Israelite elders, or that Isaiah saw God in the Temple, or that Jacob wrest led with God at Peniel, or that God appeared to Abraham in the Plains of mare, or that any of the singular and exceptional appearances of deity, nor the whisperings of God in the ears of writers of the books of the Old and New Testaments ever took place. There is no external evidence that proves the reality of the incarnation, the death of Jesus, his resurrection, his

appearance to the eleven, his appearance to the 500 men, or his appearance to John on Patmos, and so on. We only have Stephen's word that God and Jesus appeared to him in his death throes at the hands of anti-Christians. In fact, there is not one shred of external evidence for any of the miracles of Jesus and his ministers as recorded in the bible, except the testimonies that are written in the accounts. That is why no one can take a Bible in one hand and an archaeologists trowel in the other and dig up the spiritual truths of the Bible and display them in a museum. Devoid of spiritual content, the Bible is an interesting but spiritually superficial 'Travels With Charlie' that could, except where there have been name changes, or duplicate names, lead a person to accept certain parts of the historical material in the Bible are as stated as far as locales are concerned. Devoid of spiritual content, the Bible remains a source of powerful and beautifully poetic literature. But poetry will not save the soul of man, even if the Bible is right when is says that human beings have eternal souls that are able to enjoy salvation, whatever that might mean. The position of one that reads the Bible is that of an inquirer that goes to ask and, hopefully, to get answers to life's most pressing ontological questions as to who he is ["What is man?], is there a God and, if so, what God expects of him ["why art thou mindful of him?], and how

he fits into God's overarching scheme of things ["thou hast made him a little lower than the gods"], and what, above all, he should do and believe. The Bible archaeologist might travel the length and breadth of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine and find places mentioned in the Bible but never feel what Moses felt when he stood before the terrifying fire of the Glory of God in the bush at Midian. He might look into the pit where Joseph was thrown by his angry brothers, but never see the hand of God delivering Joseph from his fate so that he might deliver his brothers from theirs in time to come. He might stand on Mount Moriah where Abram bound Isaac to the altar of sacrifice, but never hear the voice of the angel telling Abram to stay his hand, or see the ram caught in the thicket and know that 'God will provide.' He might stand atop Mount Sinai or Horeb but never hear the still silent inner voice moved by the Holy Spirit confirming to the prophet that God lives and is in control of the destinies of nations and individuals. He might stand in the valley where Moses hid in the cleft of the rock and never catch sight of the fire and smoke as walked through the midst of the butchered sacrifice nor see his back parts as he moved through in the dread of that night.

He might stand in the Garden Tomb without seeing Jesus walk resurrected through its gaping portal, or hear the angels ask, Why seek ye the living among the dead? None of the places mentioned in the Bible as trodden by the sole of the foot of the Son of God will yield up to him one scintilla of evidence that Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of God Almighty, nor that he healed the sick, walked on water, make the blind to see, raised the dead, stilled the raging storm, turned water into wine, healed the paralytic at Siloam, or did any of the miracles imputed to him in its pages. Archology has nothing to offer anyone except those whose personal faith is so weak that it cannot walk without the aid of crutches, and believes that archlogical proof is as good as or better than divine confirmation of the spiritual verities of sacred writ. The things of God cannot be known through archology, but only by receiving personal faith through divine inspiration from the numen. Likewise, the Book of Mormon is not proven by archaeological, linguistic, nor by ancient historical documentation, that supports some of its statements. Insistence that before it can be believed as inspired it must be accompanied by archlogical evidence before it can be accepted is as vapid in that Books respect as it is in the case of its companion volume, the Holy Bible. The Book of Mormon, like the Holy Bible, is knowable as a divinely inspired book of sacred Revelation in exactly the

same way that the Holy Bible can be known, and that is solely by revelation from God through the Holy Ghost. This was the means through which Christs apostles knew him to be the Christ, the Messiah, and the promised Redeemer of Israel and mankind. The apostles had witnessed the miracles of Jesus, but the signs themselves were not what convicted these men that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Redeemer sent by Almighty God. Jesus himself said so after his disciples discovered that he did not offer cheap or easy discipleship, but that following Jesus required the whole person and his life, and not the occasional nod in his direction that some had supposed. The weak in faith who had been filled with his gifts of miraculously produced food, finding the way of a disciple hard, followed him no more. They cold not bear to consider what following after him mean when he told them plainly, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. [John 6:47-69] This knowledge came neither from any scientific datum, or any other way than revelation directly from heaven. That this is the source of spiritual knowledge that surpasses anything the world has to offer by way of scientific findings is confirmed by Jesus to peter on another occasion, provide us with the sure and certain understanding of the Law of Spiritual Knowledge. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it

unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [Matthew 16:13-23; 25-26] It is certain that such knowledge as Peter had is only available directly from heaven through the revelation from The Highest by means of the Holy Spirit, whose mission is laid out in detail in the Gospel of John. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. [John 14:16-26] Jesus makes it clear that knowledge of heavenly things and spiritual verities, including knowledge of the sacred purposes of God cannot come from earthly sources, however sophisticated and scientific they might be, but are only available to us directly from heaven itself, through the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost. Men look in vain to archaeological proof, and vainly point to its absence, for neither its attendance nor its deficiency bring any man nearer to or take him more distant from Almighty God. Only by His self-revelation can God and the things of God me made known to humanity. We waste ours lives in futility and squander our blessings when we determine to discover God in the ground or in buildings or historical niceties, or else we to believe that He is, because God is not found in the works of mens hands, but is known only through His own voice telling us of himself, revealing His will, and confirming that what is written of his requirements for our salvation and safety are true. There is no other way.

Copyright 2011 Ronnie Bray All Rights Reserved