(Podcast 4.18.19) What Are the Days of Holy Week?

Source: (Podcast 4.18.19) What Are the Days of Holy Week?

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The Crimson Worm

Source: The Crimson Worm

By: Curtis Evelo | April 16, 2019

So many times as we read the scriptures, we see pictures and images that are painted by the words spoken like “ I am the vine….” or “ a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die before it brings forth much grain.” Observing, we also know that all Creation speaks of His glory. Well, I was reading Psalm 22 one day and a word caught my attention. My mind went back to a teaching from Pastor Jon Courson and a pastor who mentioned that Jesus was a “worm,” and also how great the mysteries of God are. So, I started to research this little word and my findings just amazed me.

Psalm 22 :6
So when do we hear Jesus referring to himself as a worm? On the cross where he recites the very beginning of Psalm 22.
If we look at the time period and the culture, we see that Jesus gathered and taught his disciples in a very Rabbinic way. Through parables, trigger words, or contrasted (small to very large ) picture phrases like “ if you have faith like a mustard seed and you say to this mountain move” Matthew 17: 20.

Now Jesus was a Rabbi and was ever increasing his intensity of teaching to those around him you will see in the gospels the evidence of this. And as he approaches the last hours his final sentences on the cross are his most intense and most certainly important to pay attention to.
Recorded in Mark 15: 34 Jesus cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” (“my God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”). At that very moment was the only time Jesus and the Father were separated. God is Holy and cannot look upon sin. So as Jesus Christ was taking the full wrath and punishment for my sins and your sins no doubt, he was feeling the loss and separation we should have felt. So, as he cries out “my God my God “ he was speaking what he was feeling. But could it be he was still teaching and drawing attention to the entirety of Psalm 22? I think so. And the prophetic implications are written 1000 years before Christ was on this planet and 800 years before crucifixion was even invented are staggering. We read things like “ for dogs encompass me “and “they divide my garments among them “. Well back up a few verses to 22:  6, it says “But I am a worm, and no man “ so what was Jesus saying in these last words?

Well, let’s dig a little further. The word “worm “ is used many times and places like in Job 17:10,24:20 in the Hebrew it is “rimmah” which is referring to a type of earthworm . But in Psalm 22:6 the word “worm” is different in Hebrew it is “tola’ath.” Or “towla.” The “tola’ath” worm is known as the “Scarlet or Crimson worm” and it has been used for centuries in Temple uses. This Crimson worm was used for its concentrated crimson/scarlet color. The scarlet, blue, and purple colors were among the most valued fabrics of that time period. This scarlet dye was used in Levitical priestly garments like woven blue, purple, scarlet sash (Ex.39:29). On Yom Kippur, the scapegoat had a scarlet cord tied around it as it was taken to the wilderness and released as part of the atonement. The scarlet dye was used in the curtains for the Tabernacle (Ex.26:1); in the purification rites of a leper (lev.14:4-6) it was also used in the yarn thrown into the fire burning the “red heifer “ (Num.19:6).

What I found that is really interesting is the Temple Institute has now after almost 2000 years started using again the “scarlet worm “ in the wool that is woven and embroidered into the belts of the 120 priestly garments that they are currently in the process of producing. Since the scattering and the regathering of the Jewish nation. The harvest of the Scarlet worm ceased and has begun again to show a younger generation how to produce the specific dye a tradition that was lost for almost 2 millennia.

So you wonder what’s the deal with the scarlet worm? Well, what I found as I dug a little further was staggering in the similarities to an event that formed Christianity. At the time it is ready to have its young the female tola’ath worm climbs a tree, then attaches herself permanently with a hard, crimson shell. She is so permanently attached that her body would tear apart. She then lays and hatches her eggs and they stay under her shell providing protection also as the larvae grow, they eat on her living body. After a few days the young can take care of themselves and the mother dies as the mother dies, she stains the young tola’ath worms a crimson red color which they will be for the rest of their lives. After a few days, the dead mother’s body turns into a white wax. So as some of the last words of Jesus spoke to us was he still teaching us a parable that we too will be stained scarlet red?

It was Christ’s love for us that permanently held him to that cross on the darkest day of creation and as his blood poured out we now are permanently stained as we accept him as Lord and live like we’ve been covered by his blood. When I see things like this in nature that tell the story of Gods mighty redemption and has hidden that story in creation, I just cannot help but say “How great are the mysteries of our God!”

 

Editor’s Note: The views expressed by guest writers on this blog are their own and may not represent those of Bellator Christi Ministries.

Links

https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.templeinstitute.org%2FTola-at_shani.htm&data=02%7C01%7C%7C83e39dbd2b1f4f40f41a08d6bb627642%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636902428893084992&sdata=dJx5L9%2Bh5oJyNtEZ23v3pRsQrj7bO7Q630a5Sek0kgA%3D&reserved=0

https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.discovercreation.org%2Fblog%2F2011%2F11%2F20%2Fthe-crimson-or-scarlet-worm%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7C83e39dbd2b1f4f40f41a08d6bb627642%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636902428893084992&sdata=c2%2Bg3hl66o1Lpk6qJcb13%2BE3vdQflEw0OCAZmbP43ng%3D&reserved=0

https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.encyclopedia.com%2Fcrimson-worm&data=02%7C01%7C%7C83e39dbd2b1f4f40f41a08d6bb627642%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636902428893084992&sdata=PFeZKmkzPSC9YjIume%2B97QGVKBYeAhuWavUkWHowxV8%3D&reserved=0

The Crimson Worm by Rich Jacobs, M.D.

Jon Courson Searchlight Bible Teachings – 3/29/13 Psalm 22:1-21

About the Author

Curtis Evelo is the owner of the E/6 Miniature Hereford Ranch in Saint Ignatius, Montana and is a Bible teacher and up-and-coming preacher of God’s Word. Evelo attends Cornerstone Faith Center in Saint Ignatius, Montana and is enrolled at Global University—Berean School of the Bible.

Messianic Prophecy and the Resurrection

Source: Messianic Prophecy and the Resurrection

https://bellatorchristi.com/2019/04/15/messianic-prophecy-and-the-resurrection/

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 15, 2019

 

My class and I recently completed a wonderful Ph.D. seminar entitled Issues on Messianic Prophecy with Dr. Randall Price and Dr. Ed Hindson at Liberty University. Unfortunately, messianic prophecy has received less attention than in times past. Even in evangelical circles, hyper-critical views are being taken on the Old Testament which seemingly lessens any apologetic power when considering a future eschatological messiah (Note: I use the capitalized “Messiah” when referring to Jesus and the lower case when referencing the position). Other evangelicals are deemphasizing the importance of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., Old Testament). However, when keeping the prophecy in context, especially the context of the entire book, it is surprisingly clear that the prophet was speaking about a future blessed Redeemer who would bring forth a new covenant.

At Christmastime, we often ponder the prophecies of Isaiah when contemplating the Messiah’s miraculous birth and the prophecy of Micah when considering his birthplace. But as we approach Easter, did you realize there are prophecies pertaining to Easter? This article will examine a few of those prophecies.

 

Genesis 3:15

“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15, CSB).

 

Genesis 3:15 is the earliest messianic prophecy in the Bible. In this prophecy, God speaks to the serpent and notes that there would be hostility between him and the offspring of the woman. She would have an offspring that would crush the serpent’s head and the serpent would strike the offspring’s heel. While this prophecy may not explicitly reference the resurrection, it does so implicitly. The writer of Hebrews notes that through the death of Jesus the power of the devil was destroyed. John also denotes the same in 1 John 3:8. But the ultimate victory over death came by the resurrection of Jesus on the first resurrection morning. For victory to occur, death must be defeated. Jesus did just that.

 

Psalm 2:7-8

“I will declare the LORD’s decree. He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:7-8, CSB).

 

This prophecy may require a bit of explaining. In Psalm 2, the Messiah is coronated as the ruler of the earth. In verse 2, the psalmist shows that the rulers of the world conspire against Messiah. They conspire to destroy the Holy One of God. However, the Lord laughs from heaven. Verses 7-8 describe a time when the Anointed One’s identity is displayed before all. Paul, in an early sermon summary recorded in Acts, views this as being fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus. After thoroughly reading Psalm 2, I would wholeheartedly concur.

 

Psalm 16:10-11

“For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures” (Ps. 16:10-11, CSB).

 

Psalm 16 is a psalm of David. In this psalm, David asks for God’s protection using the term shamar which means to keep watch over a person like a shepherd. At the end of the psalm, David notes his confidence in that God would not leave him in the grave. God’s holy one would not see decay. This not only points to David’s confidence in the resurrection but is ultimately fulfilled in the Messiah as is noted by Peter in an early sermon summary in Acts 2:25.

 

Job 19:25-27

“But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me” (Job 19:25-27, CSB).

 

Job had been met with a horrible fate. He had lost his family, his home, his farm, his family, and his health. Yet despite his suffering, Job was able to proclaim his confidence in the Lord knowing that his Redeemer lives. He placed confidence that he would be resurrected after his inevitable demise. The passage is prophetic in that he realizes that his Redeemer will stand on the dust at the end and would testify on his behalf. This points to a resurrected Redeemer who is Jesus the Messiah.

 

Isaiah 53:9-12

“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you see him make a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished. After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give him the many as a portion, and he will receive the mighty as spoil, because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels” (Isa. 53:9-12, CSB).

 

Isaiah 53 provides a portrait of the Messiah’s life. It was not until recently that I came to realize that the latter portion of Isaiah 53 prophesies the resurrection of the Anointed One. Notice that the prophet depicts the Suffering Servant sharing a grave with the wicked and buried with a rich man at his death (Is. 53:9). The Servant was crushed which also points to his death. Yet, despite the death suffered by the Servant, he would have his days prolonged. How does one prolong the days of one who has died unless the person is brought back to life? How could the Servant see light and be satisfied without a resurrection? How could he possess a portion among the many and the spoil of the mighty if he is dead in the grave? All of these vividly points to the Messiah’s resurrection.

Some of the prophecies listed are more explicit in referencing the resurrection of the Messiah than others. Nevertheless, all of them point to a Redeemer who would overthrow the powers of Satan and defeat the doom of death. The resurrection of Jesus is not only historically verifiable, but it was also prophetically predicted to happen. Our Savior is one who gives life to all who ask. For, those who call upon the name of the Lord will most assuredly be saved (Ac. 2:21 and Rom. 10:13).

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

Why was the Head Cloth of Jesus Wrapped to the Side?

Source: Why was the Head Cloth of Jesus Wrapped to the Side?

By: Brian G. Chilton | April 4, 2019

 

A friend asked me about a supposed Jewish tradition concerning the head wrapping of Jesus in the tomb. The Gospel of John notes that Peter and John (if the beloved disciple is the writer of the Fourth Gospel which this writer accepts) run to the tomb of Jesus. They investigate the tomb and saw the “napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself” (Jn. 20:7, KJV).

According to a story circulating online which has been passed along in many churches, an ancient Jewish tradition held that when a person had finished their meal, the person would toss their napkin aside if he or she was finished. However, if the person had to leave and was not finished, the person would neatly fold their napkin and place it to the side of their plate indicating that he or she would return. Advocates of this story contend that the folding of the napkin in John 20:7 was Jesus’s way of saying that he was going to leave but would soon return. While the story is heartwarming, one must ask if there any merit to the claim. After investigating the story, unfortunately, I must report that there seems to be no evidence that the story is true. But there is a more remarkable twist that is greater than the supposed tradition. First, here are the reasons why the story seems to be nothing more than an urban legend.

  1. The headcloth was not a napkin. With all due respect to the King James Version, “napkin” may not be the best translation of the term sudarion (Gk., sudarion). Sudarion indicates a small piece of cloth which could be a towel, a napkin, handkerchief, or a face cloth. Given the context, no one was eating a meal inside the tomb which would exclude the term “napkin.” Sudarion best fits with the idea of a cloth that covered the head of the corpse. The Christian Standard Bible provides a better translation as it says, “the wrapping that had been on his head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself” (Jn. 20:7, CSB).
  2. The headcloth was rolled and not folded. While the CSB uses the term “folded,” the term entulissō (Gk., entulissw) seems to fit better with the notion of being rolled. According to Louw and Nida, entulissō indicates the action “to cause something to be in the shape of a roll.”[1] The term is also used in Revelation 6:14 where the sky is entulissō (i.e., rolled up) like a scroll. The neat folding of the headcloth as implied by the mealtime tradition does not seem to fit the tomb scene even if the tradition did exist as it seems more likely that the head cloth was rolled up like a scroll.
  3. There is no evidence of the Jewish mealtime tradition. The death knell to the mealtime legend (no pun intended) is that there seems to be no evidence that such a Jewish mealtime tradition exists. Granted, there are numerous Jewish traditions in both the written and oral law and it is possible that one could have been overlooked. Nonetheless, this writer could not find anything pertaining to a tradition surrounding a folded napkin.

This so-called Jewish mealtime tradition is one that I have heard but have never investigated until now. The story has no root in any apparent oral or written tradition (at least as far as I could find) and possesses all the earmarks of being nothing more than an urban legend. While this news may be disappointing for some, the genuine story of the rolled head cloth provides greater and deeper meaning to the resurrection of Jesus. Consider the following three truths.

  1. The body was clearly resurrected and not merely resuscitated. Something amazing must have taken place for the rolled head cloth to have been placed in a separate location than the other linens. For Jesus to have been able to escape the grave cloths without disturbing their form while at the same time rolling the cloth that had wrapped his head illustrates that Jesus experienced a greater and far different return to life than what Lazarus or anyone else ever had. Lazarus had to be unbound from the cloths that enclosed his body (Jn. 11:43-44). Jesus was able to return to life and leave behind the cloths without any assistance. Remarkable!
  2. The body would have had to come through the cloths with the head wrapping. The other cloths were lying in the same place and the same form they had when they wrapped the body of Jesus. Yet, here was this head cloth rolled up to the side away from the other cloths. This seems to suggest that the body of Jesus came through the cloths with the head cloth attached. Thus, if a person were to witness the resurrection, it is likely that the eyewitness would see the body arising out from the cloths. Or, it could be that a person would see the body vanish with the cloths sinking in where the body had been with the visible Jesus standing beside them with headcloth in hand.

After the resurrection, Jesus rolled up the cloth like a scroll and laid it to the side before exiting the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus was an otherworldly event unlike anything anyone had before perceived. When Jesus resurrected from the dead, God set forth a new system of physics for this event—one that linked the spiritual and physical in a new union.

  1. The body of Jesus was wrapped in more than one cloth. While the Shroud of Turin’s authenticity is not necessary to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, some have used the cloths mentioned in John’s Gospel to refute the Shroud. This is not a good practice primarily because John notes the existence of more than one kind of cloth. Since the women were not able to fully embalm the body of Jesus, it is possible that a Shroud covered the body of Jesus along with other wrappings in the tomb. The head cloth and the other linens indicate the plurality of cloths used to bury Jesus’s body. The absence of evidence pertaining to the Shroud is not evidence of absence.

So, while the story of an ancient Jewish tradition links the folded head cloth with Jesus’s return is most likely an urban legend, the actual story of the wrapped head cloth tells a greater story. Jesus’s resurrection was a spectacular and ethereal event. The power exhibited by the resurrection is greater than any power known to humankind. Paul notes that just as Jesus has risen from the dead, so shall all of those who have trusted Christ (1 Co. 15:23). This indicates that this kind of resurrection will one day be coming to a tomb near you.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 704.

Seven Aspects of Jesus’s Life that are Historically Certain

Source: Seven Aspects of Jesus’s Life that are Historically Certain

By: Brian G. Chilton | March 25, 2019

When I had struggled with my faith, it was not in the area of science. I believed that science and faith can coexist, and I still do. The God who gave the special revelation of the Bible is also the same God who created the heavens and the earth from no materially existent thing. My struggles were in the area of history. In 1997, I came across a book by a group called the Jesus Seminar (composed of individuals such as John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk, and Marcus Borg) which claimed that the majority of the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels could not be historically verified. I later came to find that the Jesus Seminar had no evidence to support their claims, just their own presuppositions.

 

However, as I began studying the areas of history, philosophy, and theology, I came to realize that the core details of Jesus of Nazareth’s life can be known with great certainty. One of my professors at Liberty, Gary Habermas, developed what he calls the minimal facts approach. This approach lists out six areas of Jesus’s life that are universally accepted by all historians. He also adds a seventh which holds strong support, albeit less than the other six. So, what are these seven historical aspects of Jesus’s life that can be held with great certainty? They are as follows.

 

  1. Jesus died on a Roman cross. It is universally accepted that Jesus of Nazareth died by crucifixion. Even agnostic leaning atheist New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman states that “The crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans is one of the most secure facts we have about his life.”[1] The Romans were efficient killers. They would ensure that the individuals whom they were instructed to kill died. Otherwise, their lives would have been taken in the victim’s place.
  2. The disciples had experiences that led them to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. It may surprise you to discover that nearly all historians accept that the disciples had experiences that led them to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Nearly all scholars agree that something happened on the first Easter Sunday. But what happened is where they differ.
  3. The disciples were transformed by their experiences to the point that they were willing to die for what they knew to be true. People die for what is false all the time. Many individuals have fallen in war for nations that did not have noble causes. However, it is far different when the person dies for something they know to be true or false. The early disciples were willing to lay their lives on the line, and the lives of those they loved, for what they knew to be true or false. They literally believed that Jesus had risen from the dead.
  4. The resurrection message was promoted early in the church’s history. This is one of the points that excites me. I hope to write my dissertation on this very topic. Throughout the New Testament are early creeds that predate the New Testament documents. One of the earliest is 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 which tells of Jesus’s resurrection appearances to the disciples, James, and 500 witnesses at one time. The creedal formulation is extremely early. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic, holds that the material goes back “to the early 30s of the Common Era.”[2] James D. G. Dunn holds that the material dates to “within a year or two of the events themselves.”[3] More likely, the creed dates to the very year of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. This along with Galatians 1:18-19 and the early creeds are among the earliest material in all of the New Testament record.
  5. Paul of Tarsus, the former opponent of Christianity, became a Christian after encountering the risen Jesus. No one denies that Paul of Tarsus had some experience on the road to Emmaus which radically transformed his life. What could have transformed this Pharisee of Pharisee who was either a member of the Sanhedrin or one who was on his way to becoming a member (a position that paid extremely well)? Having an encounter with the risen Jesus would have brought such a transformation.
  6. James the brother of Jesus, a former skeptic, became a Christian after encountering the risen Jesus. The same holds true for James the brother of Jesus who was not a follower of Jesus until after the resurrection. James disproved of Jesus’s ministry (see Jn. 7:5) perhaps in part because it was expected that the oldest sibling take over the family business. Jesus didn’t. Instead, he went on a preaching campaign. James probably felt great resentment towards Jesus during Jesus’s earthly ministry. However, his experience with the risen Jesus changed all that.
  7. The tomb was found empty. While this fact is not held as strongly as the other six, 75% of historical scholars accept that the tomb of Jesus was found empty on the first Easter Sunday. It is also interesting to note that the preaching of the resurrection happened early in Jerusalem. This is compelling because the skeptic would have known where the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was located. The tomb could easily be checked. Jesus was not there.

More likely than not, as we approach the Easter season, you will encounter shows, books, and booklets that will try to dissuade you from believing that Jesus rose from the dead. The reality is, the best evidence supports not only that Jesus lived and that he died, but that he also rose again from the dead. As James and Paul were transformed by the resurrection of Jesus, so can you! Let us shout in triumph with the angels standing by the empty tomb of Jesus, “He is not here, but has risen” (Lk. 24:6).

 

About the Author

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

 

[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Why Was Jesus Killed?, Kindle ed.

[2] Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? This Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York: HarperOne, 2012), 141.

[3] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids; Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2003), 864.

 

Coming Soon: A Q&A Episode on the Bellator Christi Podcast

Source: Coming Soon: A Q&A Episode on the Bellator Christi Podcast

Many of you have asked some wonderful questions at Bellator Christi. I haven’t had a chance to respond to them yet, but I plan to publish an episode of the Bellator Christi Podcast soon addressing them. If you have questions you would like featured on the episode, be sure to submit your questions at “Submit a Question to Bellator Christi” at the top right corner of the page. Your question may be added to the episode. Already, we have some wonderful questions pertaining to eternal security, the goodness of humanity, and much more. Be looking for the show to be published soon, so submit your questions if you would like for them to be added.

Note: The questions must be submitted through the link at https://bellatorchristi.com. Thanks!

Update: Voltaire’s Prediction, Home, and the Bible Society: Truth or Myth? Further Evidence of Verification

Source: Update: Voltaire’s Prediction, Home, and the Bible Society: Truth or Myth? Further Evidence of Verification

By: Daniel Merritt, Ph.D., Th.D. | March 20, 2019

Editor’s Note: Previously, we ran an article that featured Dr. Merritt’s research into the story concerning Voltaire’s prediction that the Bible would not be read in a century and the use of his facilities as a Bible repository. After running the article, Dr. Merritt came across further evidence verifying this story. This updated edition features eyewitness accounts that Voltaire’s own printing press was used to print copies of the Bible. As Dr. Merritt and I discussed in conversation, the evidence clearly backs up this story to the glory of God.

Often, stories are passed along in Christian circles without having the merits of their veracity examined. At times, the stories are shown to be little more than urban legends. At other times, a story’s facts become even more intriguing than the fictions ascribed to them. Such is the case with the story concerning Voltaire’s prediction that the Bible would no longer be read within a century, and the later ironic use of his home being used for Bible distribution after his passing. Dr. Daniel Merritt offers one of the best-researched defenses for the story’s authenticity that I have read. You are about to read the results of his research. We are all indebted to Dr. Merritt’s scholarship as we shall see, what I believe, to be the hand of God working to prove his Word as faithful despite the cynicism offered by a skeptical world. – Brian G. Chilton

A story which Christian apologists have told for years involves the French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). The story purports that Voltaire, in his voluminous writings against Christianity and the Bible, predicted in 1776, “One hundred years from my day, there will not be a Bible on earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity-seeker.” As the story alleges, within fifty years after his death, in an ironic twist of Providence, the very house in which he once lived and wrote was used by the Evangelical Society of Geneva as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts and the printing presses he used to print his irreverent works was used to print Bibles.  The story has been used repeatedly through the years by Christians as an example of the enduring intrinsic quality of the Bible and the futility of those who oppose the Inspired Volume.

For years there have been those who dispute this story as to its validity. Humanists, rationalists, agnostics, and atheists have called it an apocryphal story fabricated by Christians to bolster their argument that the Bible is inspired and possesses an intrinsic quality that enables it to withstand attacks by unbelievers. David Ross wrote an article in the Journal of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, vol. 77, no. 1, Autumn 2004, entitled “Voltaire’s House and the Bible Society,” in which he went to great lengths to dismiss the story as having any real basis in fact. Ross contends the story has been either fabricated or it began as a misunderstanding and has spread. Ross’ article and others like it are of such a convincing nature that books like Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix, left it out of later editions.[1]

The question to consider, is there any validity to the story? Did Voltaire ever make such a prediction? Is there proof that the home in which Voltaire once lived, that after his death, was used as a storehouse for Bibles? After much research, this writer has come to the conclusion that the story is true and that those who seek to discredit the story do so because it gives credence to the argument of apologists of God’s providential preservation of His Word.

Voltaire was born in Paris, France in 1694.  As a philosopher, historian and free thinker, he became a most influential and prolific writer during what has been called the Age of Enlightenment. From the beginning, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for criticisms toward the government. He twice served brief prison sentences in the Bastille for being critical of a Regent. His first literary work appeared in 1718. During his life he wrote more than 20,000 letters and some 2,000 pamphlets and books and was a successful playwriter. While a Deist, he vehemently opposed the Christian faith and wrote many rather scoffing works expressing his disdain for the faith and the Bible.  His railings against Christianity are filled with poisonous venom, calling the Christian faith the “infamous superstition.”

Several examples of his slanderous words against the Christian faith and the Bible are cited.

In 1764 he wrote, “The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles commend, what rogues teach and young children are made to learn by heart” (Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 1764).   “We are living in the twilight of Christianity” (Philosophical Dictionary). In a 1767 letter to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, he wrote: “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world…My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise of extirpating the world of this infamous superstition.”[2] Voltaire ended every letter to friends with “Ecrasez l’infame” (crush the infamy — the Christian religion). In his pamphlet, The Sermon on the Fifty (1762) he attacked viciously the Old Testament, biblical miracles, biblical contradictions, the Jewish religion, the Christian God, the virgin birth and Christ’s death on the cross.  Of the Four Gospels he wrote, “What folly, what misery, what puerile and odious things they contain [and the Bible is filled] with contradictions, follies, and horrors”[3]  Voltaire regarded most of the doctrines of the Christin faith – the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Trinity, Communion – as folly and irrational.[4] And finally, “To invent all those things [in the Bible], the last degree of rascality. To believe them, the extreme of brutal stupidity!”[5]

Many more such quotes could be cited as to Voltaire’s disdain for Christianity, but those will suffice. Voltaire’s writings were so divisive that in 1754 Louis XV banned him from Paris. Relocating in December 1754 to Geneva, Switzerland, he purchased a beautiful chateau called Les Delices (The Delights). He lived there for five years until 1760 when as the result of his antagonistic writings and plays attacking Christianityhe was virtually driven from Geneva by the Calvinist Reformers. To escape the pressure from the Calvinists, Voltaire moved across the border to Ferney, France, where the controversial Frenchmen lived for eighteen years until the end of his life in 1778 at age 83. He continued to write until his hand was stilled in death.

Now the question arises as to the veracity of what some call an “apocryphal story.” While Voltaire’s disdain for the Bible is evident, did he ever make such a prediction and did any Bible Society ever use either of his residences, from where he wrote his blasphemous words against the Bible and the Christianity, as a warehouse to store Bibles? The answer to that question is an emphatic, “YES!”

The second part of the story will be dealt with first.

In August 1836, only fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, Rev. William Acworth of the British and Foreign Bible Society saw with his own eyes Voltaire’s former residence in Geneva, Switzerland, Les Delices, being used as a “repository for Bibles and Religious tracts.” The house at this time was occupied by Colonel Henri Tronchin (1794-1865), who served as the president of the Evangelical Society of Geneva from 1834-39.[6] The Tronchin family had long had associations with Voltaire that could be traced back to the 18th century.  One of Henri Tronchin’s ancestor’s, Francis Tronchin, was Voltaire’s doctor. The Tronchin’s were prominent and wealthy residents of Geneva and even helped finance Voltaire in the publishing of some of his works.[7]

While the Tronchin family was prominent and wealthy citizens of Geneva, they were not predominately spiritual. However, though it is not known exactly when, Henri Tronchin came to faith in Christ and embraced Protestantism. Studying literature at the Academy of Geneva, he later served as artillery captain on horseback in the Dutch army. Eventually rising in ranks to lieutenant-colonel of artillery, he married in 1824. A superb organizer and a great leader, he helped found the Evangelical Society of Geneva (c1833). He served as president of the Society from 1834 to 1839. Born 100 years after Voltaire, and occupying the former home of the infamous infidel, Tronchin used the spacious house to store Bibles and Gospel tracts. Rev. William Acworth of Queens College, Cambridge, appointed an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1829, was an eye witness to the stored Bibles and Gospel tracts.[8]

In The Missionary Register for 1836 of the BFBS, Acworth is recounting his travels in the spread of the Gospel. Having traveled over 2,000 miles in France on the business of the Society, in the summer of 1836 his travels took him to Switzerland in August of that year. Acworth recounts:

I went through Geneva, and was much refreshed by meeting the Committee of the Evangelical Society, with whose proceedings and objects I was so much gratified, that I wrote to this Society to make a liberal grant of 10,000 copies of the French Scriptures to promote the objects of that Society. Our committee have only granted 5,000; but I have no doubt they will, err long, send the other 5,000. Before I left Geneva, my friend observed. “Probably you will like to see the house where Voltaire lived, and where he wrote his plays.” Prompted by the spirit of curiosity, so characteristic of an Englishman, to visit the house of the celebrated infidel, I was about to put on my hat to walk into the county, when he said, “It is not necessary you should put on your hat” and he introduced me over the threshold of one room to another, and said, “tis the room where Voltaire’s play were acted for the amusement to himself and his friend.” And what was my gratification in observing that that room had been converted into sort of Repository for Bibles and Religious Tracts. Oh! my Christ Friends, that the spirit of infidelity had been there, to witness the results of other vaticinations [acts of prophesying] respecting the downfall of Christianity! I know that Voltaire said, that he was living “in the twilight of Christianity” but blessed be God! It was the twilight of the morning, which will bring on the day of universal illumination.[9]

Only fifty-eight years after his death the former home of Voltaire in Geneva, Switzerland, was indeed serving as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts. While the Evangelical Society of Geneva did not actually purchase the house, Henri Tronchin, president of the Society, resided in the house, and used some of the rooms to store Bibles which Voltaire so vehemently opposed and prophesied Christianity’s downfall! Yes, an ironic twist of divine Providence.

Let it also be noted, only sixteen years after Voltaire’s death, in 1794, the presence of the Bible began making in-roads in the town where he spent the last eighteen years of his life, Ferney, France. On the very printing presses which Voltaire employed to print his irreverent works was used to print editions of the Bible and which were printed on paper that “been especially made for a superior edition of Voltaire’s works. The Voltaire project failed, and the paper was bought and devoted to a better purpose [of printing Bibles]!”[10]

In the book Letters from an Absent Brother, by Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta, which chronicles his travels through parts of Netherlands, Switzerland, Northern Italy, and France, he writes to his sister from Geneva on Wednesday evening, seven o’clock, October 1, 1823, concerning the distribution of Bibles in the town where Voltaire once lived:  When I arrived at Paris, one of the first things I heard was that a Bible society had been established at Ferney, chiefly by the aid of Baron de Stael. What a noble triumph for Christianity over this daring infidel. One of the first effect of the revival of true religion or even of sound learning in France, I should think would be to lower the credit of this profligate, crafty, superficial, ignorant, incorrect writer. What plea can wit or cleverness, or the force of satire or the talent of ridicule or a fascinating style, or the power of brilliant description, form, in a Christian country, for a man who employed them all, with a bitterness or ferocity, of mind amounting to almost madness, against the Christian religion and the person of our Saviour.[11]

That a Bible society had been established in Ferney, France to help financially in the printing of Bible’s in the town where Voltaire once resided, is confirmed in the 1824 Report of the Protestant Bible Society at Paris containing the following sentence: A newly established branch at Ferney formerly the residence of Voltaire, has sent its first remittance, a sum of 167 francs.[12]

Further proof that the printing presses Voltaire once used to print his blasphemous works is contained in a transcript from the Quarterly Papers of the American and Foreign Bible Society of 1837: A Bible Society was some years since established at Ferney, once the residence of Voltaire—the prince of infidels. This noble enterprise for the propagation of the Christian religion is said to have commenced by Baron de Stael, and a few zealous Christians in that place. In the history of Bible Societies, this is truly a memorial event. That the antidote should issue from the very spot where the poison of infidelity for so many years disseminated; and the advocates of Christianity should in that very place print and circulate the sacred volume, as a sufficient shield against misrepresentations sophistry which he had there assailed divine revelation, are the events which the brilliant Frenchman would have pronounced impossible.[13]

In 1845 Bibles were still being printed on printing presses Voltaire once employed in Ferney, France. The 1846 anniversary address of The American and Foreign Bible Society, Rev. Charles G. Sommers gave a stirring report on how the Bible was making penetration into various places around the world. When speaking about the Scriptures advancements in countries around the world (including France) in the previous year of 1845, Rev. Sommers stated,

Much has indeed been accomplished, but much more remains to be done for the millions who are still without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world. It is true, indeed, and we thank God, that in nine years this Society has printed one million of books in forty-nine different languages, but hundreds of millions must be distributed among the famishing myriads of our race. By what other means can we hope to arrest the progress of infidelity and Romanism; now marching in triumph over the fields of our fair inheritance? When Pythagoras and Confucius were filling Europe and Asia with heresies, God raised up Ezra, the prophet, to compile and publish the books of the Old Testament, as an antidote to their delusions. And when Voltaire, Diderot, D’Alembert and Rousseau were laboring to crush the bleeding cause of Christ, God raised up against them the standard of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and it is a cause for grateful exultation that the same printing press which was employed to scatter the blasphemous tracts of the prince of French philosophers, has since been used at Ferney (France), to print the Word of God. The black confederacy raised their bulwarks to impede the march of truth, but they would have been equally successful, had they forged chains to bind the lightning, that cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, as the precursor of the coming of the Son of man. Voltaire boasted that he had seen the twilight of Christianity, and that the pall of an endless night would soon cover it forever. Yes, sir, he did see the twilight, but he was mistaken as to the hour of the day—it was the twilight of morning, pouring its effulgence over the brim of the horizon of the nineteenth century, which he mistook for the rays of a setting sun.”[14]

Having established that Bibles were actually stored in Voltaire’s former Geneva residence and were being printed on printing presses he once employed in Ferney, France, did he ever make such a prediction that one hundred years after his death the Bible would no longer be read? A man who wrote 20,000 letters in his lifetime, it would be impossible to know all the statements he wrote or spoke. However, it was generally acknowledged and understood by those near the time Voltaire lived that he had made such a prediction either verbally or in writing which may no longer exist. Rev. Acworth in 1836, only fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, referred to the infidel’s “vaticinations [act of prophesying] respecting the downfall of Christianity! Such a remark indicates it was common knowledge that such a bold prediction had been made by VoltaireIn 1849, only seventy-one years after Voltaire’s death, William Snodgrass, an officer of the American Bible Society, stated in the giving of ABS’s annual report that “the committee had been able to redeem their pledge by sending $10,000 to France, the country of Voltaire, who predicted that in the nineteenth century the Bible would be known only as relic of antiquity.”[15] Again, such a remark indicates it was commonly acknowledged that Voltaire had made such a prediction.

Found in an interpretative book on many of the works of Voltaire published in 1823, only forty-five years after his death, the author, a contemporary of the Frenchman, details the fact that he brutishly sought to inspire contempt for the Christian faith and saw himself more influential than Martin Luther and John Calvin! Voltaire wanted a “religion to be without code, without laws, without dogma, without authority” and “laughed all these Christians who believed their religion was truly divine.” The author states that Voltaire in his fight against Christianity would stop “at nothing to annihilate” the Christian faith.[16] It is obvious those in Voltaire’s day believed his efforts were for the purpose of dismantling Christianity.

While this writer could not find the exact quote that usually accompanies the story, similar quotes could be found. In an 1855 biography of Voltaire, the author quotes him as stating in a letter to a friend, “It is impossible that Christianism survives.”[17]  In an effort to assist in bringing about what he perceived would hurry the demise of “Christianism,” in 1776, at age 82, Voltaire brought to a culmination his disdain for the Bible when he published La Bible Enfin Expliquée (The Bible Fully Explained).[18] The two-volume work was Voltaire’s commentary on the whole Bible. His purpose in writing was to “make the whole building [of Christianity] crumble.”[19] Writing with feigned credulity in a satirical and scoffing manner, he wrote viciously, mockingly critical and skeptically of practically every book and verse in the Bible. His sought to expose, as he saw it, the foolishness and irrationality of belief in the Bible. Of his massive tome, in which he derided the Bible on every page, he stated, “The subject is now exhausted: the cause is decided for those who are willing to avail themselves of their reason and their lights, and people will no more read this [Bible].”[20]

From such an arrogant declaration it is clear Voltaire delusionally believed as a result of his La Bible Enfin Expliquée, he had struck a death blow to the Bible’s believability and the sun was setting on the Book’s influence and in time the Volume would become irrelevant. However, instead of the Bible becoming irrelevant and no longer believed, the Inspired Volume begins to increase in circulation….his former house, only fifty-eight years after his death, being used as a storehouse to house Bibles and Gospel tracts and printing presses he once employed to print his anti-Christian sentiments was being used to print Bibles!

Like all stories that are repeated over the years, the exact details and wording may vary, but it seems clear the key components of the story are very much true.  The story of Voltaire serves as an example and a reminder that the foolish predictions and efforts of man to extinguish the Bible will come to naught. No skeptic’s scoffing hammer has ever made a dent in the Eternal Anvil of God’s Word. To those who attempt to do so, Jesus emphatically declares, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Amen!

 

Daniel Merritt, Ph.D.

 

About the Author

About the Author

Daniel Merritt, a native of Sanford, NC, received his Ph.D. in Ministry from Luder-Wycliffe Seminary and his Th.D. from Northwestern Seminary. He also received his M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and studied philosophy and religion at Campbell University. Dr. Merritt has pastored six churches in North Carolina, teaches at the Seminary Extension of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is currently the Director of Missions for the Surry Baptist Association in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Dr. Merritt has written several books including A Sure Foundation: Eight Truths Affirming the Bible’s Divine InspirationWritings on the Ground: Eight Arguments for the Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11and Bitter Tongues, Buried Treasures. 

Notes:

[1] Norman Geisler and William Nix, Introduction to the Bible, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), 124.

[2] Sarah Coakley, Faith, Rationality and the Passions, (MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2012), 37.

[3] Voltaire, Trans. Joseph McCabe, Selected Works of Voltaire, “The Sermon on the Fifty,” (London: Watts & Co., 1911), 178-180.

[4] Voltaire, ed. H.I. Wolff, Philosophical Dictionary, “Arius,” (New York, 1924), 253.

[5] Quote of Voltaire from his work God and Man, chapter xliv, found in James Parton, Life of Voltaire, Vol. II, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1881), 429.

[6] Stelling-Michaud, Suzanne,  Le livre du Recteur de l’Académie de Genève (1559-1878) (Vol 6). Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1980, 72; also, Jean-Yves Carluer, “Henri Tronchin,” December 16, 2017, http://le-blog-de-jean-yves-carluer.fr/2017/12/16/henri-tronchin/ (Accessed March 12, 2019). In 1929 the  Les Delices property was purchased by the city of Geneva, and now houses the Institute et Musee Voltaire, a museum founded in 1952 dedicated to the life and works of Voltaire.

[7]On Voltaire’s relations with the Tronchin family, see Deidre Dawson, Voltaire’s Correspondence: An Epistolary Novel (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 101–126; also, George Valbert, “The Genevese Councilor François Tronchin and his relations with Voltaire”, The Revue des Deux Mondes, 1895, 205-216

[8] William Canton, A History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1845-1926, (London: J. Murray, 1903), 98.

[9] The Missionary Register for 1836, William Acworth, “Bible Notices in Switzerland and Italy,” (London: L&G Seeley, 1836), 352.

[10] The Gentleman s Magazine, July, August, September 1794; Samuel Bagster, The Bible of Every Land (London, 1860), 167. Curiously enough, Bibles were printed on paper, which, according to Hannah More, had been specially made for a superior edition of Voltaire’s works. The Voltaire project failed, and the paper was bought and devoted to this better purpose. Monthly Extracts, 1848, August, p. 793.

[11] Daniel Wilson, “Letters from an Absent Brother, (London, 1824), 187.

[12]Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Vol. 7, 1822, 1823, 1824, (London: J.S. Hughes, 1824), 17-18.

[13] Quarterly Papers of the American and Foreign Bible Society, No 11, New York, July 1837, “Bible Society at Ferney,” 21-22.

[14] Ninth Annual Report of the American and Foreign Bible Society, Presented at New York, May 15, 1846, (New York: John Gray, 1846), 48.

[15] Annual Report of the American Bible Society, 1849, Appendix, 98.

[16] Claude Francois Nonnottee, Erreurs de Voltaire, (Paris, 1823), 285-305.

[17] Eugene Noel, Voltaire, (Paris: F. Chamerot, 1855), 99.

[18] Arnold Ages, “The Technique of Biblical Criticism: An Inquiry into Voltaire’s Satirical Approach in La Bible Enfin Expliquée,” A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures, September 6, 2013, 67-79.

[19] Voltaire, La Bible Enfin Expliquée, (Alondres), 1776, 2.

[20] Voltaire, La Bible Enfin Expliquée, (Alondres), 1776; also; James Parton, Life of Voltaire, Vol. II, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1881), 543.

Voltaire’s Prediction, Home, and the Bible Society: Truth or Myth?

Source: Voltaire’s Prediction, Home, and the Bible Society: Truth or Myth?

By: Daniel Merritt, Ph.D, Th.D. | March 18, 2019

Editor’s NoteOften, stories are passed along in Christian circles without having the merits of their veracity examined. At times, the stories are shown to be little more than urban legends. At other times, a story’s facts become even more intriguing than the fictions ascribed to them. Such is the case with the story concerning Voltaire’s prediction that the Bible would no longer be read within a century, and the later ironic use of his home being used for Bible distribution after his passing. Dr. Daniel Merritt offers one of the best-researched defenses for the story’s authenticity that I have read. You are about to read the results of his research. We are all indebted to Dr. Merritt’s scholarship as we shall see, what I believe, to be the hand of God working to prove his Word as faithful despite the cynicism offered by a skeptical world. – Brian G. Chilton

A story which Christian apologists have told for years involves the French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). The story purports that Voltaire, in his voluminous writings against Christianity and the Bible, predicted in 1776, “One hundred years from my day, there will not be a Bible on earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity-seeker.” As the story claims, within fifty years after his death, in an ironic twist of Providence, the very house in which he once lived and wrote was used by the Evangelical Society of Geneva as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts. The story has been used repeatedly through the years by Christians as an example of the enduring intrinsic quality of the Bible and the futility of those who oppose the Inspired Volume.

For years there have been those who dispute this story as to its validity. Humanists, rationalists, agnostics, and atheists have called it an apocryphal story fabricated by Christians to bolster their argument that the Bible is inspired and possesses an intrinsic quality that enables it to withstand attacks by unbelievers. David Ross wrote an article in the Journal of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, vol. 77, no. 1, Autumn 2004, entitled “Voltaire’s House and the Bible Society,” in which he went to great lengths to dismiss the story as having any real basis in fact. Ross contends the story has been either fabricated or it began as a misunderstanding and has spread. Ross’ article and others like it are of such a convincing nature that books like Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix, left it out of later editions.[1]

The question to consider, is there any validity to the story? Did Voltaire ever make such a prediction? Is there proof that the home in which Voltaire once lived, that after his death, was used as a storehouse for Bibles? After much research, this writer has come to the conclusion that the story is true and that those who seek to discredit the story do so because it gives credence to the argument of apologists of God’s providential preservation of His Word.

Voltaire was born in Paris, France in 1694.  As a philosopher, historian and free thinker, he became a most influential and prolific writer during what has been called the Age of Enlightenment. From the beginning, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for criticisms toward the government. He twice served brief prison sentences in the Bastille for being critical of a Regent. His first literary work appeared in 1718. During his life he wrote more than 20,000 letters and some 2,000 pamphlets and books and was a successful playwriter. While a Deist, he vehemently opposed the Christian faith and wrote many rather scoffing works expressing his disdain for the faith and the Bible.  His railings against Christianity are filled with poisonous venom, calling the Christian faith the “infamous superstition.”

Several examples of his slanderous words against the Christian faith and the Bible are cited.

In 1764 he wrote, “The Bible. That is what fools have written, what imbeciles commend, what rogues teach and young children are made to learn by heart” (Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 1764).   “We are living in the twilight of Christianity” (Philosophical Dictionary). In a 1767 letter to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, he wrote: “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world…My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise of extirpating the world of this infamous superstition.”[2] Voltaire ended every letter to friends with “Ecrasez l’infame” (crush the infamy — the Christian religion). In his pamphlet, The Sermon on the Fifty (1762) he attacked viciously the Old Testament, biblical miracles, biblical contradictions, the Jewish religion, the Christian God, the virgin birth and Christ’s death on the cross.  Of the Four Gospels he wrote, “What folly, what misery, what puerile and odious things they contain [and the Bible is filled] with contradictions, follies, and horrors”[3]  Voltaire regarded most of the doctrines of the Christin faith – the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Trinity, Communion – as folly and irrational.[4] And finally, “To invent all those things [in the Bible], the last degree of rascality. To believe them, the extreme of brutal stupidity!”[5]

Many more such quotes could be cited as to Voltaire’s disdain for Christianity, but those will suffice. Voltaire’s writings were so divisive that in 1754 Louis XV banned him from Paris. Relocating in December 1754 to Geneva, Switzerland, he purchased a beautiful chateau called Les Delices (The Delights). He lived there for five years, until 1760 when as the result of his antagonistic writings and plays attacking Christianityhe was virtually driven from Geneva by the Calvinist Reformers. To escape the pressure from the Calvinists, Voltaire moved across the border to Ferney, France, where the controversial Frenchmen lived for eighteen years until the end of his life in 1778 at age 83. He continued to write until his hand was stilled in death.

Now the question arises as to the veracity of what some call an “apocryphal story.” While Voltaire’s disdain for the Bible is evident, did he ever make such a prediction and did any Bible Society ever use either of his residences, from where he wrote his blasphemous words against the Bible and the Christianity, as a warehouse to store Bibles? The answer to that question is an emphatic, “YES!”

The second part of the story will be dealt with first.

In August 1836, only fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, Rev. William Acworth of the British and Foreign Bible Society saw with his own eyes Voltaire’s former residence in Geneva, Switzerland, Les Delices, being used as a “repository for Bibles and Religious tracts.” The house at this time was occupied by Colonel Henri Tronchin (1794-1865), who served as the president of the Evangelical Society of Geneva from 1834-39.[6] The Tronchin family had long had associations with Voltaire that could be traced back to the 18th century.  One of Henri Tronchin’s ancestor’s, Francis Tronchin, was Voltaire’s doctor. The Tronchin’s were prominent and wealthy residents of Geneva and even helped finance Voltaire in the publishing of some of his works.[7]

While the Tronchin family was prominent and wealthy citizens of Geneva, they were not predominately spiritual. However, though it is not known exactly when, Henri Tronchin came to faith in Christ and embraced Protestantism. Studying literature at the Academy of Geneva, he later served as artillery captain on horseback in the Dutch army. Eventually rising in ranks to lieutenant-colonel of artillery, he married in 1824. A superb organizer and a great leader, he helped found the Evangelical Society of Geneva (c1833). He served as president of the Society from 1834 to 1839. Born 100 years after Voltaire, and occupying the former home of the infamous infidel, Tronchin used the spacious house to store Bibles and Gospel tracts. Rev. William Acworth of Queens College, Cambridge, appointed an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1829, was an eye witness to the stored Bibles and Gospel tracts.

In The Missionary Register for 1836 of the BFBS, Acworth is recounting his travels in the spread of the Gospel. Having traveled over 2,000 miles in France on the business of the Society, in the summer of 1836 his travels took him to Switzerland in August of that year. Acworth recounts:

I went through Geneva, and was much refreshed by meeting the Committee of the Evangelical Society, with whose proceedings and objects I was so much gratified, that I wrote to this Society to make a liberal grant of 10,000 copies of the French Scriptures to promote the objects of that Society. Our committee have only granted 5,000; but I have no doubt they will, err long, send the other 5,000. Before I left Geneva, my friend observed. “Probably you will like to see the house where Voltaire lived, and where he wrote his plays.” Prompted by the spirit of curiosity, so characteristic of an Englishman, to visit the house of the celebrated infidel, I was about to put on my hat to walk into the county, when he said, “It is not necessary you should put on your hat” and he introduced me over the threshold of one room to another, and said, “tis the room where Voltaire’s play were acted for the amusement to himself and his friend.” And what was my gratification in observing that that room had been converted into sort of Repository for Bibles and Religious Tracts. Oh! my Christ Friends, that the spirit of infidelity had been there, to witness the results of other vaticinations [acts of prophesying] respecting the downfall of Christianity! I know that Voltaire said, that he was living “in the twilight of Christianity” but blessed be God! It was the twilight of the morning, which will bring on the day of universal illumination.[8]

Only fifty-eight years after his death the former home of Voltaire in Geneva, Switzerland, was indeed serving as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts. While the Evangelical Society of Geneva did not actually purchase the house, Henri Tronchin, president of the Society, resided in the house, and used some of the rooms to store Bibles which Voltaire so vehemently opposed and prophesied Christianity’s downfall! Yes, an ironic twist of divine Providence.

Have established that Bibles were actually stored in Voltaire’s former Geneva residence, did he ever make such a prediction that one hundred years after his death the Bible would no longer be read? A man who wrote 20,000 letters in his lifetime, it would be impossible to know all the statements he wrote or spoke. However, it was generally acknowledged and understood by those near the time Voltaire lived that he had made such a prediction either verbally or in writing which may no longer exist. Rev. Acworth in 1836, only fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, referred to the infidel’s “vaticinations [act of prophesying] respecting the downfall of Christianity! Such a remark indicates it was common knowledge that such a bold prediction had been made by VoltaireIn 1849, only seventy-one years after Voltaire’s death, William Snodgrass, an officer of the American Bible Society, stated in the giving of ABS’s annual report that “the committee had been able to redeem their pledge by sending $10.000 to France, the country of Voltaire, who predicted that in the nineteenth century the Bible would be known only as a relic of antiquity.”[9] Again, such a remark indicates it was commonly acknowledged that Voltaire had made such a prediction.

Found in a biography of Voltaire written in 1823, only forty-five years after his death, the author details the fact that the Frenchman brutishly sought to inspire contempt for the Christian faith and saw himself more influential than Martin Luther and John Calvin! Voltaire wanted a “religion to be without code, without laws, without dogma, without authority” and “laughed all these Christians who believed their religion was truly divine.” The author states that Voltaire in his fight against Christianity would stop “at nothing to annihilate” the Christian faith.[10] It is obvious those in Voltaire’s day believed his efforts were for the purpose of dismantling Christianity.

 

While this writer could not find the exact quote that usually accompanies the story, a similar quote he made in 1776 was found. In 1776, at age 82, Voltaire brought to a culmination his disdain for the Bible when he published La Bible Enfin Expliquée (The Bible Fully Explained).[11] The two-volume work was Voltaire’s commentary on the whole Bible. His purpose in writing was to “make the whole building [of Christianity] crumble.”[12] Writing with feigned credulity in a satirical and scoffing manner, he wrote viciously, mockingly critical and skeptically of practically every book and verse in the Bible. His sought to expose, as he saw it, the foolishness and irrationality of belief in the Bible. Of his massive tome, in which he derided the Bible on every page, he stated, “The subject is now exhausted: the cause is decided for those who are willing to avail themselves of their reason and their lights, and people will no more read this [Bible].”[13]

From such an arrogant declaration it is clear Voltaire delusionally believed as a result of his La Bible Enfin Expliquée, he had struck a death blow to the Bible’s believability and the sun was setting on the Book’s influence and in time the Volume would become irrelevant. However, instead of the Bible becoming irrelevant and no longer believed, the Inspired Volume begins to increase in circulation….his former house, only forty-eight years after his death, being used as a storehouse to house Bibles and Gospel tracts!

Like all stories that are repeated over the years, the exact details and wording may vary, but it seems clear the key components of the story are very much true.  The story of Voltaire serves as an example and a reminder that the foolish predictions and efforts of man to extinguish the Bible will come to naught. No skeptic’s scoffing hammer has ever made a dent in the Eternal Anvil of God’s Word. To those who attempt to do so, Jesus emphatically declares, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Amen!

 

Daniel Merritt, Ph.D.

Notes

[1] Norman Geisler and William Nix, Introduction to the Bible, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), 124.

[2] Sarah Coakley, Faith, Rationality and the Passions, (MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2012), 37.

[3] Voltaire, Trans. Joseph McCabe, Selected Works of Voltaire, “The Sermon on the Fifty,” (London: Watts & Co., 1911), 178-180.

[4] Voltaire, ed. H.I. Wolff, Philosophical Dictionary, “Arius,” (New York, 1924), 253.

[5] Quote of Voltaire from his work God and Man, chapter xliv, found in James Parton, Life of Voltaire, Vol. II, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1881), 429.

[6] Stelling-Michaud, Suzanne,  Le livre du Recteur de l’Académie de Genève (1559-1878) (Vol 6). Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1980, 72; also, Jean-Yves Carluer, “Henri Tronchin,” December 16, 2017, http://le-blog-de-jean-yves-carluer.fr/2017/12/16/henri-tronchin/ (Accessed March 12, 2019). In 1929 the  Les Delices property was purchased by the city of Geneva, and now houses the Institute et Musee Voltaire, a museum founded in 1952 dedicated to the life and works of Voltaire.

[7]On Voltaire’s relations with the Tronchin family, see Deidre Dawson, Voltaire’s Correspondence: An Epistolary Novel (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 101–126; also, George Valbert, “The Genevese Councilor François Tronchin and his relations with Voltaire”, The Revue des Deux Mondes, 1895, 205-216

[8] The Missionary Register for 1836, William Acworth, “Bible Notices in Switzerland and Italy,” (London: L&G Seeley, 1836), 352.

[9] Annual Report of the American Bible Society, 1849, Appendix, 98.

[10] Claude Francois Nonnottee, Erreurs de Voltaire, (Paris, 1823), 285-305).

[11] Arnold Ages, “The Technique of Biblical Criticism: An Inquiry into Voltaire’s Satirical Approach in La Bible Enfin Expliquée,” A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures, September 6, 2013, 67-79.

[12] Voltaire, La Bible Enfin Expliquée, (Alondres), 1776, 2.

[13] Voltaire, La Bible Enfin Expliquée, (Alondres), 1776; also; James Parton, Life of Voltaire, Vol. II, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1881), 543.

About the Author

Daniel Merritt, a native of Sanford, NC, received his Ph.D. in Ministry from Luder-Wycliffe Seminary and his Th.D. from Northwestern Seminary. He also received his M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and studied philosophy and religion at Campbell University. Dr. Merritt has pastored six churches in North Carolina, teaches at the Seminary Extension of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is currently the Director of Missions for the Surry Baptist Association in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Dr. Merritt has written several books including A Sure Foundation: Eight Truths Affirming the Bible’s Divine InspirationWritings on the Ground: Eight Arguments for the Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11and Bitter Tongues, Buried Treasures. 

Family is Your First Ministry

Source: Family is Your First Ministry

By: Brian G. Chilton | March 11, 2019

 

One of the disturbing trends I have witnessed in ministry comes from pastors who neglect their families for their churches. It would seem for some that busyness and pulling long hours is the mark of a successful pastor. However, when we learn of countless pastors who burn out from exhaustion or from those who lose their families due to neglect or infidelity, one must wonder whether this model is good after all.

The Scripture places a high emphasis on the family unit. It seems to indicate that the pastor’s first ministry must be to his family. Furthermore, Scripture seems to indicate that placing family as one’s first priority, after God alone, is a prerequisite for ministry.

 

Neglect of Family Compared to Unbelief (1 Tim. 5:8). In 1 Timothy, the young pastor is given sage advice by the aged apostle Paul on how to serve in ministry. It is of no surprise that one finds the words, “But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, CSB). How is it that this verse is missed? A child depends on his or her parents for their wellbeing. If a pastor is not caring for his family’s needs, he cannot serve the church because he is failing at his first calling.

 

Care for Family is a Prerequisite for Ministry (1 Tim. 3:4-5). The apostle lays forth the prerequisites that Timothy must consider before placing a pastor or deacon in office. Almost all the prerequisites for the pastor (i.e., the “overseer,” Gk. Episkopos) are the same for the deacon (i.e., the “servant,” Gk. Diakonos) except for the need to teach. The CSB uses the phrase “manage his own household.” Interestingly, proistēmi is the term used. Proistēmi as used in the NT indicates leadership, but in a greater sense it means for a person to “to care for”[1] someone or something. Thus, if this meaning is implied, then Paul is saying that a pastor must first care for his family before he can care for the church. The family must be the pastor’s first calling.

 

Caring for the Family is Part of the Greatest Commandment (Dt. 6:7). Jesus indicated that the greatest commandment is the Shema which is found in Deuteronomy 6:5. The Shema says, “Listen (Heb. Shema), Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Dt. 6:5, CSB). But two verses below, the text says that the parent is to “Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Dt. 6:6-7). Religious and spiritual instruction begins at home. A pastor’s highest calling is not the sermons preached on Sunday mornings, but the instruction that is given to his children each day.

I have tragically seen many pastors ruin their families in order to obtain what they feel is pastoral and/or ministerial accomplishment. The family is sacrificed at the altar of success. However, I have witnessed something quite profound at the Lord’s leading. My grandfather was a wonderful pastor. He related to people in delightful ways. However, when my grandpa died, the numerous people from the churches he served were not there holding his hand as he took his final breath. His children and grandchildren were there with him. My grandmother would have most certainly been there had she not suffered with Alzheimer’s. This point is not to begrudge anyone from the churches he served. The same is true for numerous other pastors and deacons who have died. It simply relays a profound point—put first those who will be there for you when you take your final breath. Sacrificing your family for ministerial success is not only unbiblical, it disqualifies you from serving.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Bo Reicke, “Προΐστημι,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), 701.

Reconciling a God of Love with the Problem of Evil

By: Daniel Merritt, Ph.D., Th.D. | March 7, 2019

Theologians and philosophers when engaged in explaining the mysteries of life, wrestle with two mysteries that challenge the mind and the soul. Those mysteries have to do with the problem of evil, which has two components: moral evil and natural evil. Of the two, moral evil poses the easiest solution, as we grasp that bad things happen as a result of man’s capacity to choose between good and evil. The choices one makes brings about consequences; bad choices bringing about consequence that can adversely affect the individual who made the choice and have a ripple effect that affects the lives of others.

It is a lot more difficult, though, to provide satisfactory answers in the face of natural evil. Natural evil would include “evil” or “acts” that is the result from natural events that would include floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, disease and other “events” that occur which bring in our lives tragedy, pain, suffering, and even death. Devastating natural disasters in life often leave one pondering: “Where is God in the midst of all this suffering, loss of life, and destruction? It is not fair or just that these often disastrous acts occur (insurance companies call them ‘acts of God’)!”

The age-old dilemma was posed by Epicurus (341-270 BC): “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil, is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” While simplistic answers are not forthcoming, approaching the subject from a Christian perspective does yield some thought-provoking insight. Six will be considered.

First insight, the Bible teaches that the sometimes “bipolar behavior” of nature is the result of The Fall. Natural evil is a result of man’s sin, the consequences of having a ripple affect which reverberates throughout creation. The Bible teaches that natural evil is a consequence of deliberate rebellion against his Creator, the result being that in addition to man being affected by sin, creation suffered negative consequences, as well. The present world is not the way it was created to be. As a result of man’s disobedience to God, pain, suffering and death entered the world. Paul tells us that all creation was affected by The Fall and that all creation groans and is in travail from the consequences of man’s sin and awaits the time when it is freed from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:20-22). The sometimes-unpredictable acts of nature were not present prior to sin entering the world. The world is broken as the result of man’s rebellion against his Creator. Creation has been subjected to the curse of man’s sin and as a result, the present world is functioning abnormally from God’s original design, bringing forth “acts” that are a distortion from the way God originally created the world and man.

Regarding the consequences of the curse of sin that affects man and creation, Francis Schaefer succinctly writes, “I do not think Christians take the Fall and the present abnormality of the world with practical comprehension and seriousness. I mean by this that although Bible-believing Christmas certainly do hold to a historical Fall and the present abnormality of the world as a theological truth, when it comes down to living, this is often forgotten. In other words, we forget that everything is abnormal today and that much of the sickness in the world and sorrows in other areas are a result of this abnormality. or to say it another way, there is so much in history that God did not mean to be there, in the way that He created the world and created

man” (Schaeffer, Letters, IL: Crossway Books, 1985, 157). Schaefer’s words are most insightful in regard to the “why?” of natural evil.

Second insight, God respects the freedom of man to choose, whose decisions can lead to dangerous acts of nature being destructive. It is understood there is natural evil/acts in nature that arise through no fault of man, but man’s choices, actions, and neglect can sometimes put people in harm’s way when nature turns dangerous. When man builds houses and cities on fault lines in earthquake-prone areas the inevitable will happen. When homes are built on the side of mountains that are prone to mudslides the house will eventually disappear from the mountainside. When one builds businesses and homes near flood-prone areas or on the ocean front there is the risk that hurricanes will sooner or later bring devastation. Human freedom allows one to construct homes, businesses and cities being in places susceptible to earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes; however, when one does, acts of nature can result in grave damage and loss of life. Also, if corners are cut on building materials or construction in order to build quickly or cut expenses, the devastation can be even worse. The Lord respects our freedom to plan and create where we choose, even though eventual disaster may lurk in the future. We want the Lord to intervene in such cases, but for Him to do so, He would have to suspend our freedom to choose (John Hick, Evil and the God of Love, London: Saffron House, 1966, 12).

Third insight, God created the world to operate according to certain laws, and even though sin may have skewed some of nature’s laws as originally designed, there is a cause and effect in nature in regard to how the world works. These are more than impersonal forces, behind it all there lays the Creator God. Scientist-theologian John Polkinghorne advocates that God has created a universe with particular natural laws that make life on earth possible for the existence of humanity. Polkinghorne states that while our “knowledge of the physical world is patchy and incomplete,” the same weather systems that create F-5 tornadoes also creates rainstorms that bring water to the needed soil and plants. The same wind patterns that refresh us on a hot day can turn into destructive gale force winds. The same earthquakes that destroy buildings are part of the very dynamic in the regulation of soils and surface temperatures needed for human life. The same kinds of bacteria that can make one sick and even bring death also yields substances that are used to bring healing. As Creator, God has created the world to work in a certain way and even though creation has been affected by sin, what we assume to be inherently bad or unjust contains within its processes that which also brings about good and sustains life (Polkinghorne, Science and Providence: God’s Interaction with the World, Boston: New Science Library, 1989, 3-7). That our Creator God doesn’t change the laws of nature to coincide with our idea of what is good and just brings us to our fourth thought-provoking insight

Fourth insight, in addressing the problem of “natural evil” one must approach it from the perspective that the problem is not with God, but the problem begins with our assumptions about who we think God ought to be, what God ought to do, and how we determine what is just or unjust. We expect God to act in a certain way according to the way we perceive Him. We presuppose that if God is good and omnipotent then “bad” shouldn’t happen, that God should be and act in the way our mind conceives Him to be. However, we define just and unjust from a near-sighted, sin-tainted perspective. Basing whether something is good or bad, just or unjust on the premise of whether it fits into one’s own understanding what those terms mean is not the basis on which such a judgment should be made. One is not to affirm the goodness of God’s

character according to one’s own experience and presupposing. Surely God, who sees all thing from the beginning to the end, sees the bigger picture. His thoughts and ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).

What appears to be unjust or bad from our rationale, experience and perspective could actually be something that is very good from a longer-range perspective, but we are only seeing from our short-sighted perspective. In our view of God, we tend to project our narrow-sighted view and experiential definitions of good and bad onto God and assume that if He is good, He must be good by our own limited standards of what constitutes good and just. When one says God needs to be “just,” most often one makes such a statement in terms of what one thinks justice ought to be or in relation to what one perceives to be just from one’s restricted viewpoint. In the process, one doesn’t grasp how justice for one might be an injustice to someone else in a different setting or vice-versa. After all, do we only want a God that fits into our box of understanding or One whose basis for what is just and unjust goes beyond one’s limited intellectual capacity?

We also impose within our narrow scope of God’s omnipotence, that He should use His power to conform to our understanding of how His power ought to work in the world and in individual lives. When we superimpose our concept of how God’s omnipotence should operate in the world, we have reduced Him to our level. God’s power is not subservient to our thinking or our whims of how we perceive He ought to operate in the world and in our lives. Our conception of God too often projects our preconceived assumptions onto God whose omnipotence we contend should be within the scope of our control. What we actually want is to manipulate God to fit into our parameters of how we think He ought to flex His powerful muscle over the forces of nature. How much better it is to come to terms with the understanding that God desires to work in us and with us in the world, and help us to better reflect the image of God He has stamped on each soul even when we encounter “acts” that from our perspective are deemed unfair, unjust, or bad (Dennis Bratcher, The Problem of Natural Evil, The Voice, www.crivoice.org, 2018).

Fifth insight, “Natural evil fulfills a higher divine purpose” (Augustine) (Robert Francis Allen, “St. Augustine’s Free Will Theodicy and Natural Evil,” Ars Disputandi, 3:1, 2003, 84-90). Pain, suffering, and disorder associated with natural evil providentially bring about a higher divine purpose in the larger plan of the Lord. Natural disasters often bring out in humanity the very best of human character, as neighbors and strangers aid one another in recovery. While natural disasters are often tragic, glimpses of the marred image of God within us is seen sparkling in the wreckage. As well, it is only after such natural disasters that some people actually have their hearts made tender enough to call on the Lord for help and strength in daily life. Many times only when one’s present situation is drastically changed does one find themselves thinking about the brevity of life, eternity and one’s accountability before the Lord. Further, it is in the aftermath of “acts of God” that one develops positive and strong character traits that would not have been formed if the disaster had not occurred. If difficult times one is prompted to grow stronger and become better human beings. So, even in the midst of disaster, the Lord can direct what appears to be bad or unjust to fulfill a higher divine purpose (Romans 8:28) (Barry L. Whitney, What are they Saying about Evil?, Paulist Printing, 1989, 6, 25)

Sixth insight, one whose reasoned reaction to the calamitous effects of natural disasters, instead of disproving the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent God is in reality strong evidence for

His existence. In his book Mere Christianity, former atheist C.S. Lewis acknowledged he thought the injustice he perceived in the world was an ironclad argument against the truth of Christianity. But as he reflected on what he considered injustice in the world, he asked himself, “How had I gotten the idea that just and unjust existed?” How can one appeal to an objective standard of just and unjust, if there is not a standard outside of one’s self? For if there is no God and we are only the sum total of a collection of random atoms, one’s appeal to events or acts being declared just and unjust is no better or worse than that of anyone else. Such deducing resulted in C.S. Lewis becoming a Christian and one of the great Christian thinkers and writers of the twentieth century.

While we have sought to look at six insights in regard to the problem of natural evil, ultimately we must acknowledge our inability to answer every question posed. Our finite minds can only take us so far, and we will never be able to penetrate the infinite mind of our benevolent and omnipotent God. It is not a weakness to admit that we do not have all the answers, but this know…in the midst of disastrous acts of nature, God is able, willing and desirous to bring comfort, hope, and encouragement to the hurting heart. He is a God who walked among us in Jesus Christ and He is not oblivious to our pain. Having wept through human eyes (John 11:35), He comes to embrace us in our pain that in His divine providence will bring treasure out of a tragedy.

 

About the Author

Daniel Merritt received his Ph.D. in Ministry from Luder-Wycliffe Seminary and a Th.D. from Northwestern Seminary. He also received his M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and studied philosophy and religion at Campbell University. Dr. Merritt has pastored six churches in North Carolina and is currently the Director of Missions for the Surry Baptist Association in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Dr. Merritt has written several books including A Sure Foundation: Eight Truths Affirming the Bible’s Divine Inspiration; Writings on the Ground: Eight Arguments for the Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11; and Bitter Tongues, Buried Treasures. 

 

 

(c) 2019. BellatorChristi.com.