Does archaeology prove or disprove the Bible?


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ARCHAEOLOGISTS CONTINUE TO FIND AMAZING PROOF RELATED TO BIBLE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, a new news item out of Israel’s newspaper, Haretz. Archeologists recently announced they had found a fantastically preserved seal impression that was made by a Biblical governor of Jerusalem. The seal dates from the seventh century, B.C., which puts it during the reign of King Josiah.  

DR. REEDER: Historians actually doubt even the existence of Jerusalem during those days and any structure of government that would include a governor. I think it’s two or three different times in the Bible during that particular reign of Josiah that the governor is affirmed and is mentioned.

Now we find that archaeologists have uncovered an artifact that tells us, “Oh, hey, the Bible was accurate again when we said that it wasn’t accurate.” This actually rather new discipline from the late nineteenth century, archaeology, continues to affirm the historicity of the Bible.

Now, let me go ahead and say there are some things that archaeologists are saying that would question the accuracy of the Bible, but what we have found is, over a period of time, the very thing that question the accuracy of the Bible as more things are discovered, all of a sudden, they find out it does affirm the accuracy of the Bible.

For instance, Mary Magdalene, called Magdalene because she was from the area of Magdala, yet there was question as to whether or not there actually was a city like Magdala. Well, not only has archaeology affirmed the reality that there is a city called Magdala, but it has also affirmed the fact that it contained one of the seven synagogues that had been built in Israel. In fact, there are two of them on the Sea of Galilee — one at Capernaum and one at Magdala.

Just recently, when I was there couple of years ago, they have also uncovered the vineyard or the Garden of Naboth, who had his garden stolen by King Ahab and Jezebel. And Tom, there’s others as well.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Indeed. Seals to King Hezekiah, a latrine built to a desecrated pagan shrine and, in 1994, there was an inscribed stone known as a “stele” sound near Tel Dan in northern Israel.

DR. REEDER: That affirmed how Dan, as a tribe, had migrated up north and that had been questioned and now we find out that that is true. I remember the stories about Jesus — “Well, there was no Pontius Pilate. We can’t find any record of a Pontius Pilate in any of the extrabiblical sources, particularly, out of the Roman Empire.”

Except for, all of a sudden, now we have the writings of Josephus and we have the writings of Eusebius and, most of all, is right there at Caesarea-by-the-Sea where the governor’s palace had been built, they uncovered a stone with the name Pontius Pilate on it.

WITNESSES AND EVIDENCE CONFIRMS

Therefore, all of these things continually affirm the historicity of the Bible and historicity of Biblical truth is affirmed in the Scripture with appeals to it. Remember how Luke, when he talks about how had put together the Gospel of Luke and then later the Book of Acts, refers to the fact that he had obtained his data, likely while Paul was in prison in Caesarea-by-the-Sea from “eyewitnesses.”

Likely, he interviewed Mary, herself, who was under the care of the apostle John because of the way he refers to certain things that she says when he refers to Mary in the Biblical accounts. And, beyond that, Tom, you have the apostle Paul, in 1Corinthians 15, affirming the historicity of the resurrection when he says, “Here are the witnesses,” and he starts naming the personal witnesses, and the groups of witnesses and then he says, oh, by the way, there were 500 witnesses to whom Jesus appeared into Galilee. Obviously, at that time, you could have called upon probably all of those 500 witnesses.

You could have stopped Christianity dead in its tracks by just bringing out witnesses opposed to the resurrection that it actually didn’t happen or bringing out the body. They affirmed the historicity of an empty tomb and the historicity of witnesses to the resurrected Christ. The Bible is a book that is rooted in history.

NINETEENTH CENTURY CRITICS BEGAN TO CAST DOUBT

Here’s what many have said, beginning in the nineteenth century: “We think that these guys actually probably believed these things and that they were true. To them, they were true. That doesn’t mean that they were actually true.”

But what we find out is the Bible doesn’t know anything about truth in terms of relativity or relativism in terms of truth. True truth is what is truth and that, when it says something happened in history, if it didn’t happen in history, then the Bible is untrustworthy.

However, the Bible, we find out, is trustworthy and that Christianity is not a fabrication of men’s dreams but it is the revelation of Biblical truth in time and history and is verifiable in history as historical events.

NEW EVIDENCE EMERGES EVERY DAY TO PROVE BIBLE TRUE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we keep finding these pieces of evidence that verify the Bible is true. Have we ever found any evidence that there are things in the Bible that aren’t true?

DR. REEDER: We have found evidences that seemingly contradict Biblical truth but, as you move along in the study of that archeological pit, they find out, “Oh, wait, wait. It is true.” In other words, they’ll find something that points to the fact that it is true. There have been isolated things that have been picked up and then, as they continue to mature the study, then it always ends up affirming the Biblical account.

Of course, one of the most famous of all of these is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We had been told many things like that the Book of Isaiah is not actually the Book of Isaiah — it’s three books by a claim of someone who used Isaiah’s name. Now, why did they do that? Well, they made that view of the Book of Isaiah up, not because there was any evidence but the Book of Isaiah contained prophesies. If you’ve got a prophesy, then you’ve got a God because only God can tell you what’s going to happen because prophesy is pre-written history. However, if you’ve got prophesy, then what you need to do is you need to post-date the book so that the guy’s really fabricating the story as a prophetic statement when, in reality, it has already occurred and he’s only reporting something that has occurred.

And then, lo and behold, we find out that, guess what? Dead Sea Scrolls, which pre-date Jesus, all of the Messianic prophesies were already recorded and they found them in the jars. Here are scrolls that pre-date Jesus and that affirm the unity of Isaiah, the actuality of Isaiah and the historicity of the prophecies which means that Jesus is a fulfillment of true prophecy.

WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE THE BIBLE BUT SEE IT AS A MORAL STORY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, how ought we look at the Bible? You will, on one hand, have a number of people that will look at the Bible and say, “Oh, yes, this is a book of history,” but on the other hand you’ll have a group of people that say, “Well, this is just a book of nice stories. We can’t really believe it, but they have a lot of nice moral parables in them.”

DR. REEDER: Well, first of all, I would say to those people that is utterly ridiculous to take a Bible that tells you that there is a God that you must worship and, if you do not and if you sin against Him, you’re going to come under judgement, and there’s a place called Hell and there’s a place called Heaven, those cannot be good moral encouraging, inspiring stories. They have to be treated as fabrications that manipulate people if they are not true. If they are true, then praise the Lord.

I’m reminded of the story of the people that were riding by a church and the outside sign says, “Slow down. Stop. Destruction ahead,” and one guy got out of his car and went in there and said, “How dare you put that out there, manipulating people according to their fears?” “Well, because we don’t want you to be killed.” “Who are you to tell me…?” And they said, “Well, all we are are the people that the highway patrol called because, one mile down the road, the bridge is out so we used our sign to warn you.”

Well, the signs that believers put out warning of a judgment to come — in that case, we’re dealing with a physical death that awaited you but we give a warning of a spiritual death. The guy viewed that as manipulation until he found out what? That it was true. Therefore, people hear the warning of a judgement to come and see that as manipulation and rightly so if it’s not true but, if it’s true, it is a glorious gift of the grace of God not only to warn you of the judgement to come, but to make a way for you too escape through Jesus Christ.

YOU CAN TRUST THE BIBLE AND GOD’S PROMISE

The Bible is a dependable book. It’s not a history book and it’s not just a book of stories — it is a book of truth revealed through stories. And the greatest story is the greatest story ever told: God loves sinners, not by loving their sin, but by providing His son as a Redeemer so you can be delivered from your sins and that story is the truth. Here’s what Jesus says, “They word is truth.”

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller

19 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.