Ancient Bible Found in Jesus' Tongue? I Doubt It.

Who doesn't love ancient manuscripts? And an Indiana-Jones like story following the discovery of one makes it all the better. "Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus" (Ktisti and Bahceli Reuters’ article). This manuscript was apparently found in a Turkish Cypriot police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers—not quite Indiana Jones, but SWAT-like stories are almost as good.

As a bit of background: I use to work with ancient manuscripts and I know Syriac, so I was immediately interested in this discovery. But, a few things Ktisti and Bahceli said in their Reuters’ article about the discovery struck me as quite odd:
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Cruel Logic: The Logical Slippery Slope of Evolutionary Ethics

A powerful reductio ad absurdum from filmmaker Brian Godawa:  "A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic: His moral right to kill them."

Francis Schaeffer called this logical tactic "taking the roof off."  You simply adopt the other person's point of view for the sake of the argument and carry it out to its logical conclusion.  You demonstrate the absurd world one has to swallow given the practical outworking of their argument.  And it shows them they can't live in that world. 

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More Thoughts on the CatholicVote Abortion Video

My post on the CatholicVote video has generated some interesting discussion on the Stand to Reason blog.  Scott Klusendorf, pro-life master jedi, has weighed in with some wise thoughts that speak to the value of the video and its liabilities:

I must confess to thinking similar thoughts the first time I saw the clip. If that's the extent of our message--or even our primary one--we're not doing our job as communicators.

However, given the morally untutored culture we live in, the imagery and message of the clip may still prove helpful. It's hard to change how people think on abortion if you don't first change how they feel about it. On that level, the ad provides a valuable assist. For example, I've met many pro-lifers who initially joined our ranks because of a slogan I think suffers from the same problem Brett identifies above. The slogan reads: "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart." I dislike it, because elective abortion is wrong even if performed prior to the detection of fetal heart activity. Thankfully, many of those same pro-lifers have moved on to more sophisticated and intellectually credible arguments.
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The Video Sends the Wrong Pro-Life Message

Alright, since I'm on a pro-life blog kick, let me get out one or two more posts on the subject... has put out a compelling pro-life video. 

Tools like this are a powerful way to put our pro-life arguments into narrative form.  Unfortunately, I think this video inadvertently gives the wrong justification for the pro-life message.  Watch it and then ask the following question:  "According to this video, what is the grounds for human value?"  The video mistakenly communicates that human life is valuable merely in virtue of its instrumental value. 

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Abortion: Only One Question

Last week I claimed abortion is the greatest social justice issue of our time.  That’s a bold claim so more must be said.  

I am a pro-lifer for very particular reasons.  I am not pro-life because "the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."  I am not pro-life because I want to fit in with Christians at my church.  I am not pro-life because I hate women who have abortions.  I am not pro-life because it fits with a particular political party's platform.  I am not pro-life because you have to be if you're a real Christian.

I am a pro-lifer because of the answer to one simple question:  What is the unborn?  Let me illustrate.  If my teenage daughter asks me, “Dad, can I kill this?” what question must I answer first before I can answer that?  

“What is it?”

If I turn around and she’s holding a spider she found in the house, no problem.  If she’s holding the neighbor’s cat, I’ll look to see if my wife’s within earshot and then tell her, “Sure, I can’t stand that cat” (I’m sorry, I’m sorry – I’m not a cat-lover).  But if she’s holding her kid brother who’s been pestering her, I’d have to tell her, “Lexi, put your brother down and slowly walk away.”  You see, I must first answer, “What it is?” before I can answer, “Can I kill this?”

If the unborn is not a human being, no justification for abortion is necessary.  But if the unborn is a human being, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.  

So, is the unborn a human being?  Yes and here’s why:

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Ragamuffin Soul Interview Part 2

So iChat cut off the rest of our conversation last week but have no fear, here's the sequel:



Hangin with Los Whit Part Dos from CJ Casciotta on Vimeo.
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The Most Important Social Justice Issue of our Time

It's abortion.

I know, I know.  That's the least coolest thing I could've said.  If I really wanted to be a hip young evangelical, I would've said poverty or the environment or pointed to some need in Africa (and certainly, these are very important issues).  Recently, it’s been trendy to move away from “out-dated” and more volatile social issues like abortion or homosexuality.  Oh well.  I'm not much for being cool anyhow. 

Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in which seven Supreme Court justices gave us license to kill growing human fetuses in a mother's womb.  Oooh, sound harsh?  There should be nothing controversial about that last phrase because it accurately describes abortion.  "To kill" is accurate because the fetus is alive biologically, so whatever it is, we're killing something that is alive and growing.  That's supposedly the problem, right?  "Human fetuses" is accurate because it’s in the fetal stage of development and it has human parents.  Human parents are only capable of procreating something human.  And of course, "mother's womb" is accurate because that's its location.
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Hangin with LosWhit of

Carlos Whittaker's blog, reaches more than 7,000 people a day. The guy is on the front lines of the church and its role in a web-driven culture.  He's the Director of Service Programming at Buckhead Church which is one of the three North Point Community Church campuses in the Atlanta area.  He oversees all the Sunday adult experience and design and directly oversees all areas Hosting, Production, Creative, Video, Music, and Programming at Buckhead Church.  He also sits on the creative sermon planning team for Andy Stanley.

..More importantly, from the little I've interacted with him he's a great guy who loves Jesus and seeks the best for His people.

Yesterday was a crazy day for both of us, but we managed to find some time to talk (him from a Starbucks in Georgia and me from my office in California) and via the sweet technology of iChat video. Take a look:

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A Little Lesson on Prayer

I just spent 4 days speaking in Alaska but instead of enjoying God’s beautiful country, I was trying to survive a severe case of the flu, trip to the ER and a red-eye flight home while sick.  I’m finally feeling better but the experience got me thinking about prayer.  

During the trip, the church I was working with was praying fervently for my health.  Family and friends back home were praying.  There were probably 100, maybe even 200 people praying for my short-term health, so I could complete my ministry work.  Did God answer their prayers?  I have two reflections:

(1) Our knowledge of how God answers prayer is very limited.  Did God heal me completely?  No.  It’s taken me an entire week to largely recover.  Did God answer (in the affirmative) the prayers whatsoever?  I don’t know.  How could I?  Maybe God kept me from getting any sicker.  Maybe he ensured that I would have enough strength to make it through the teaching times.  Maybe he wanted me to struggle physically for a short while.  I don’t know.  That God hears and answers prayers is clear (Matt. 7:7-11, 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13-14, etc.).  How He does so is not.  

(2) Prayer is not merely a means to an end but an end in itself.  Even if God granted no grace to me physically, were all the prayers in vain?  I don’t think so.  Implicit in the act of prayer is an admission of dependence.  Prayer says, "I can't do this without you."  The more one prays, the more one gets in touch with the truth of our utter need for God.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:  “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  For Jesus, an affirmative answer to his request is not the final end.  Rather, it’s submission to God’s will.  And prayer seems to be part and parcel of that process.  Ultimately, voluntary submission requires trust.  I will only submit to whom I trust.  So then, prayer is an act of trust in God and is an end in itself.  And no prayer is in vain.

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Obama, Prophecy, and a Voice from the Past

What will the spiritual environment of the U.S. look like in the coming year? How will the world be different now that there is a new, African-American President sitting in the oval office? A man who has claimed that our country will see change: financially, diplomatically and even spiritually. Aside from your political allegiances (or lack thereof), you may be wondering the same thing. Let’s talk about the book—the Bible—the President-elect will place his hand on when he is sworn in, and what the voices of the ancient prophets, recorded in that book, tell us about this historic day.

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