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Friday, September 15, 2017

Discern the Spirits and Pray for the ACNA

Alice C. Linsley

The ordination of women priests among Anglicans is an expression of much confusion. The elements of confusion go well beyond gender confusion. We find disordered thinking touching on the Trinity, the relationship of Scripture and Tradition, and the infusion of Pentecostalism. The 3-streams fallacy that Anglicanism is catholic, reformed, and charismatic is a serious deviation from the Anglican Way. A background in anthropology leads to my suspicion that this Pentecostal influence is simply "Christian" shamanism. It contributes to the notions of progressive revelation and the mutability of God.

This wider theological confusion made it very difficult for the bishops to correct or discipline errant bishops like James Pike, William Swing and John Spong. Even before their time, the Anglican Way was derailed in the Church of England by modernism and occultism. This is reflected in the 1938 publication of Doctrine in the Church of England, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This is the report of the Commission on Christian Doctrine appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1922. It is the closest thing to an Anglican statement of doctrine in modern times, but note the title: Doctrine in the Church of England, not Doctrine of the Church of England. The report reveals the considerable division within Anglicanism on central points of Christian doctrine. 

Add to that the willingness of some Church of England and American clergy to dabble in the occult, and you have a dreary picture indeed. 

In 1937, Archbishop William Cosmo Gordon Lang established a committee “to discuss the relationship, if any, between spiritualism and the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church.” Although Archbishop Lang took a strong moral tone toward the failure of duty of Edward VIII in abdicating the throne, he opened the question of spiritualism by forming the committee. One of the committee members was Evelyn Underhill, who later withdrew, stating that she was “very strongly opposed to spiritualism... especially to any tendency on the part of the Church to recognize or encourage it.”

The committee delivered its report in 1939, but its findings were not made public until 1979. A similar delay took place with the 1922 publication "Doctrine in the Church of England" which was not published until 1938. As Mammana notes, "The “Conclusions of the Majority” reveal a shocking discovery of inherent value in spiritualist practices. One paragraph merits quotation without comment:

"It is often held that the practice of Spiritualism is dangerous to the mental balance, as well as to the spiritual condition, of those who take part in it, and it is clearly true that there are cases where it has become obsessional in character. But it is very difficult to judge in these cases whether the uncritical and unwise type of temperament which does undoubtedly show itself in certain spiritualists is a result or a cause of their addiction to these practices. Psychologically it is probable that persons in a condition of mental disturbance, or lack of balance, would very naturally use the obvious opportunities afforded by Spiritualism as a means of expressing the repressed emotions which have caused their disorder. This indeed is true of Christianity itself, which frequently becomes an outlet, not only for cranks, but for persons who are definitely of unstable mentality."

The committee closed with the recommendation of a sort of ecumenism between the Church of England and the spiritualist movement: “It is in our opinion important that representatives of the Church should keep in touch with groups of intelligent persons who believe in Spiritualism.”

Much of this confusion is due to the failure of seminaries. Abandonment of the Fathers, the Scriptures, and the received Messianic Tradition leads to degradation of the Anglican Way. The ACNA will either stand with the Fathers, the Scriptures, and the received Tradition on the question of women priests, or it will continue to stray from those authorities. Women are fully capable. That is not the issue. They are not called to this divine ordinance.

In conversations with younger clergy and present seminarians, I find a yearning for more intellectual integrity, deeper learning of Scripture, and greater discernment of Truth. They love the Anglican Way because they recognize the potential for a richer experience of the Body of Christ. Perhaps they will help recover some of the ground lost to the devil.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Anglican Fudge: Women Priests

The Anglican Church in North America is in trouble. It has placed greater weight on its polity than on catholicity. It has decided to allow individual dioceses to ordain women to the priesthood rather than require them to uphold the Church's universal (catholic) doctrine and discipline on this matter. Even after the college of bishops admitted that there is "insufficient" scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood. This is Anglican fudge at its richest.

Read the statement issued by the ACNA bishops here.

In the words of Archbishop Mark Haverland, neo-Anglicans are on "the slow lane to modernist mush."

The ACNA will either stand with the Fathers, the Scriptures, and the received Messianic Tradition on the question of women priests, or it will continue to stray from those authorities. Women are fully capable. That is not the issue. They are not called to this divine ordinance.

Many members of the ACNA will be angry and disappointed by the decision to maintain the status quo. However, let's look on the bright side. The house of bishops has made progress in admitting that there is insufficient Scriptural support for ordaining women to the priesthood, and that this practice is a modern innovation.

In reality there are only about 5 American ACNA bishops who ordain women. Their waywardness can be corrected by amending the ACNA Constitution at some future synod so that all ACNA bishops will be accountable to the same catholic standard. That's where the biggest battle is likely to occur. Keep praying, folks!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Abraham's Authority and Ancient Law Codes

Tera-neter, priest of the Annu, pre-dynastic inhabitants of the Upper Nile. 
Abraham’s father, Terah, bears this title, which means priest. 

Alice C. Linsley

Understanding Abraham's power as a ruler requires determining the social controls that he exercised. In Abraham's case we must not imagine an extensive realm, such as that ruled by Nimrod, one of Abraham's ancestors. Abraham's realm extended on a north-south axis between Hebron and Beersheba and on an east-west axis between Engedi and Gerar (see map below). Abraham's exercise of power reflects clan loyalty and the mutual support of the separate households of his wives, Sarah and Keturah. Each household had its warriors, servants, craftsmen, and herdsmen.

His territory was entirely in the land of Edom or Idumea. Jacob separated the households of his wives when we approached Edom, fearing that his brother Esau might attack.

In Abraham's time, Edom was under the high king of Egypt. Abraham was of sufficiently high rank that he was recognized by the Egyptian king. Abraham's personal audience with him testifies to Abraham's adherence to a purity code that was consistent with that of the Egyptian high king, who was regarded as a "son" of God on earth.

It is evident from the biblical data that Abraham's clan observed an ancient moral code that pertained to ritual purity, water rights, rights of inheritance, and animal sacrifice. His authority was attached to the the ruler-priest caste into which he was born and was reinforced by his observation of the moral code of his Horite Hebrew people.

By Abraham's time the Hebrew (Ha'biru or 'Apiru) priests were already widely dispersed in the service of rulers. This is why we find common religious practices among the related R1b peoples. An example is the belief that God can release a people from their debt. In the Hurrian Song of Debt Release, the god's followers are told to release the people of Ebla from their debt. 

"If you take a debt release in Ebla, I will exalt your weapons. Your weapons will begin to conquer your enemies. Your plowed land will prosper in glory. But if you do not make a debt release for Ebla, the city of the throne, in the space of seven days, I will come upon you. I will destroy Ebla, the city of the throne. I will make it like a city that never existed. I will break the surrounding wall of Ebla's city like a cup. I will knock flat the surrounding wall of the upper city like a garbage dump..."

Social controls function at many levels. Written law codes governed the great kingdoms that arose before and after the time of Abraham. These codes reflect the layered fabric of ancient societies. They incorporate folkways, regional practices, and controls based on kinship, and the notion of the deification of the ruler.

Among the Horite Hebrew, the tradition received from their ancestors was not to be changed. It was regarded as immutable, and was to be passed unchanged from generation to generation. The moral codes that would have been familiar to Abraham included the Law of Tehut and the negatively worded Code of Ani (BC 2500). Both codes reflect the religious context of Abraham's Proto-Saharan and Nilotic ancestors. He also would have been familiar with the Mesopotamian codes which differ little from those of the Nilotic rulers.

Written Codes

Moral codes were written on stone and oven-baked clay tablets. They were also inscribed on papyrus. These ancient codes appealed to the highest authority for their validity. They were to be considered the "law" of the Supreme God who appointed rulers on earth by divine overshadowing.

The Code of Hammurapi was engraved on a stele more than 7 feet high. An image of King Hammurapi appears at the top of the stone, standing reverently before the seated Shamash, the god of justice. Shamash is shown dictating the law to his earthly representative.

These royal documents typically had colophons. Colophons are statements at the end of the document that identify the source and purpose of the document. Thus, the Code of Hammurapi closes with the statement, "The righteous laws which Hammurapi, the wise king, has established . . . ." Similarly, Leviticus closes with this statement: “These are the commandments which YHWH commanded Moses for the children of Israel . . ." and the colophon of Numbers states: “These are the commandments and the ordinances which YHWH commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel . . ." (36:13)

Percy J. Wiseman (1888-1948) observed that the colophon coming at the end serves two purposes: it is a title page and a marker to connect one tablet to the next narrative in a sequence. Wiseman’s theory of the composition of Genesis is presented in his book, New Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis (1936). The book has undergone several editions, and the most recent appeared with the title Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis (Thomas Nelson, 1985), and was edited by Wiseman’s son, Donald J. Wiseman (University of London). There is merit to Wiseman's theory and I recommend the book. He concludes that Moses is the central figure around whom the Genesis material came together. I agree, in as much as that is what the Deuteronomist Historian (700-300 BC) intended in the final redaction of Genesis.

Following Wiseman’s method of comparing ancient Near Eastern texts, I would expand our sights to include the ancient Hindu or Vedic literature, which also employed colophons and told of the founders of the world in a similar manner. I suggest that these texts and the ancient Near Eastern texts share a common Afro-Asiatic cultural milieu. The interaction of Afro-Asiatic peoples through written communication is well established. Mesopotamian cuneiform was understood in Egypt, as testified by the Akkadian Tell el-Amarna letters (c. 1400-1353 B.C.) and in Canaan.

One of Wiseman’s most interesting observations is the stylistic change in the sequence after the colophon of Tablet VI which is "the history of Terah" (11:27a). The colophon appears to end the previous section, but does not connect to what follows. At this point the Deuternomist Historian wants to take the narrative in a direction that causes us to lose sight of Terah as the great patriarch of the Horite Ha'biru clans of Abraham, Nahor, Lot and their descendants, including Moses and his Horite Hebrew family.

Related reading:  The Law of Tehut, Ancient Moral Codes, Afro-Asiatic Influences on the Deuteronomist Historian; Fundamentalism and Syncretism in Hebrew History; Who Was Abraham?

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Historical Adam

The conversation that follows continues the discussion of The Fall, Mortality, and the Age of the Earth. To read interesting comments about this article, visit the international Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology.

A recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy asks:
It seems reasonable for Adam to have been the first man with the breath of life in him that makes one fully human and having the image of God. That would mean all before Adam did not have this. But then why have them exist at all?

Adam is presented in two different ways in the Bible. He is the founding father of the Horite royal clans whose rulers are listed in Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36. In this sense he is historical, but clearly not the first human created on earth.

Were Adam the first created human, he would have lived about 3 million years ago. Clearly, this is not the meaning intended by the writer of Genesis because Adam's royal descendants tilled the ground, created musical instruments, herded sheep and cattle, offered animal sacrifice, and built cities (Genesis 4). These are the activities of people in the Neolithic Period (10,000 - 2000 BC).

Further, in the story of Lamech and his two wives, we already find a well-established marriage and ascendancy pattern for rulers. It was the practice of the Horite Hebrew rulers to have two wives. These wives lived in separate settlements on a north-south axis. Lamech's wives were Adah and Zillah. Abraham's wives were Sarah (his half-sister) and Keturah (a patrilineal cousin). Jacob's wives were Rachel and Leah. Moses's wives were a Kushite bride (his half-sister) and Zipporah (a patrilineal cousin). Elkanah's wives were Penninah and Hannah, the mother of Samuel.

As the ancestor of these historical figures, Adam must be said to be historical also. However, the Apostle Paul speaks of Adam analogically, not historically. He contrasts Adam to Jesus Messiah, the New Adam. This is an analogy, not an assertion of historicity. To make his point, Paul uses Adam as a meta-historical figure, like an archetype. Here we understand Adam to represent all humanity from the beginning of human existence. He is a metaphysical concept, and as such, his existence cannot be proven.

Adam, the historical royal "father"

As a historical founding father of the rulers listed in Genesis, there is substantial evidence for Adam's existence. He is the historical ancestor of Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus Messiah, but not the literal first human created.

In the original Nilotic and Proto-Saharan context of Abraham’s ancestors “the blood” simply meant Human or Man. This is why the term 'Adam is often translated "the man" in different versions of the Bible. Examples include Genesis 1:27 and 3:20. In Genesis 1:27, Man ('Adam) is made in the image of the Universal Ruler, as in ancient Egypt where the king was said to rule  as the "image" of God on earth.

The name 'Adam is a variant of Ha'dam, meaning "the blood" (dam). The Biblical writers recognized that the people with red skin were of an ancestral line of extreme antiquity. Some of these people were rulers in Edom. These are listed in Genesis 36. Esau the Elder and Esau the Younger were among them. Esau is specifically described as being red in Genesis 26.

The Hebrew word for red is edom and it is a cognate to the Hausa word odum, meaning red-brown. Both are related to the word Hebrew dam, meaning blood. Adam was formed from the red clay that washed down to the Upper Nile Valley from the Ethiopian highlands. These soils have a cambic B horizon. Chromic cambisols have a strong red brown color. In other words, 'Adam's name supplies a clue to the point of origin of Abraham's ancestors and explains why they are associated with the color red.

Jeff A. Benner, an expert on ancient Hebrew, explains:

We are all familiar with the name "Adam" as found in the book of Genesis, but what does it really mean? Let us begin by looking at its roots. This word/name is a child root derived from the parent דם meaning, "blood". By placing the letter א in front of the parent root, the child root אדם is formed and is related in meaning to דם (blood).
By examing a few other words derived from the child root אדם we can see a common meaning in them all. The Hebrew word אדמה (adamah) is the feminine form of אדם meaning "ground" (see Genesis 2:7). The word/name אדום (Edom) means "red". Each of these words have the common meaning of "red". Dam is the "red" blood, adamah is the "red" ground, edom is the color "red" and adam is the "red" man. There is one other connection between "adam" and "adamah" as seen in Genesis 2:7 which states that "the adam" was formed out of the "adamah".
In the ancient Hebrew world, a person’s name was not simply an identifier but descriptive of one's character. As Adam was formed out of the ground, his name identifies his origins. (From here.)

The implication of this is that 'Adam had a red skin tone, like his descendants Esau and David. The chart below shows the Horite rulers of Edom. This is the clan of Seir the Horite. They are listed in Genesis 36. These are Abraham's people. Edom was called "Idumea" by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people." The Horite Hebrew were devotees of the Creator and his son Horus. Horite is Horim in Hebrew. Jews call their ancestors Horim.

The red descendants of Adam appear to be the Proto-Saharan and Nilotic peoples in Haplogroup R1. This map shows the dispersion of the R1 peoples. The dark red spot in Central Africa is Noah's homeland. He ruled in the region of Lake Chad which was prone to flooding. The locals call this region Bor-no, meaning "Land of Noah". This is the only place on earth that claims to be Noah's homeland.

Some of Abraham's Horite Habiru ancestors can be traced back to the shrine city of Nekhen. One of the more intriguing discoveries at Nekhen was the recovery of an almost complete beard in association with the redheaded man in Burial no. 79. The facial hair of the man in Burial no. 79 had been trimmed with a sharp blade.

The map shows that the red peoples extended into southwestern China. The Tarum mummies of China had red hair and beards. The oldest Tarum Mummies found in China date from 1900 B.C. The so-called "Ur-David" mummy (shown below) was tall and had red hair. This mummy, also called Cherchen Man or Chärchän Man, dates to about 1000 B.C.

Note the solar mark on the cheek of this archaic ruler.

'Adam and Enosh as Contemporaries

Another word that designates a royal founding father is Enosh/Enoch. In Psalm 8:4 the terms 'Adam and Enosh are paralleled.
“What is man [enosh] that you are mindful of him, the son of man [ben adam] that you care for him?”
Both 'Adam and Enoch/Enosh are royal titles. The parallelism of Psalm 8 makes it clear that Enosh/Enoch is considered a royal progenitor along with 'Adam. These are among the archaic rulers. They are called the "mighty men of old" in Genesis and they are described as heroes and men of renown. They are the rulers of the archaic world and they married within their royal houses, as royal persons tend to do even today.

The diagram below shows analysis of the marriage pattern of Abraham's royal ancestors listed in Genesis 4 and 5. Cain and Seth married the daughters of a great ruler named Enoch/Enosh. The cousin brides (represented by the circles) named their first born sons Enoch/Enosh, after their father. This is an example of the cousin bride's naming prerogative.

I recognize no theological problems with interpreting the creative process of Genesis in different ways. In many respects, viewing it as a summary of perhaps billions of years makes more sense. God knew that we would need things like oil and natural gas and other resources that take eons to form someday, so he allowed time for them to develop.

Human artifacts dating from millions of years ago to 10,000 years ago indicate that the Creator has been guiding the religious thought of humans to recognition of the incarnation of the Son of God and his death and resurrection. The oldest artifacts show cross designs in stone and shell. Then there is the universal practice of burying elders, chiefs, and rulers in red ochre dust, a symbol of blood. Life in in the blood!

The universal symbolism of the sun as the Creator's symbol or emblem is another example. By 4000 BC there already existed a caste of ruler-priests (Ha'biru or Hebrew) who believed that the Creator has a son. This son - Horus - was to be conceived virginally by the overshadowing of the sun. This was the sign of divine appointment as a ruler on earth.  Some would say that this has nothing to do with Jesus Messiah; that the Angel Gabriel's words to Mary are coincidental. Not so! When Mary asked how she would conceive, seeing that she "knew" no man, Gabriel explained that she would be overshadowed and the one she conceived would be the Son of God (Luke 1).

Related reading: Adam Was a Red Man; Archaic Rulers, Ascendancy, and the Foreshadowing of Jesus Messiah; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Righteous Rulers and the Resurrection; The Edomites and the Color Red; The Virgin Mary's Ancestry; On the Fall, Mortality, and the Age of the Earth; Sun Cities of the Ancient World; The Historicity of Noah's Flood

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lots of ego when it comes to human origins

John Hawks is one of the world's leading paleoanthropologists. He wrote:

For some people who follow human evolution news, recognizing “species” is really just about whether you’re a lumper or a splitter. Many people assume that the names of species are about ego, not evidence.
But nature presents us with real challenges, which still cause different scientists to approach the past with different assumptions. Let me give some examples.
Just today, I got notification of a new paper by Walter Neves and colleagues, in which they suggest that Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi are actually South African representatives of Homo habilis. Some people might scoff at this—after all, the Dinaledi fossils are only 236,000–335,000 years old, while the latest-known H. habilis is around 1.6 million. But a young date for some fossils doesn’t bar them from from membership in a species with much older fossil representatives. Identity is tested with morphological evidence, not geological age.

Read more in this post "Arguing about species: Is it evidence, or ego?"

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Laugh today!

This monk was thinking about how the first book of the Bible speaks of Jesus. Thus the J.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the Fall, Mortality, and the Age of the Earth

The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator (Saint Catherine's Monastery)
The two different facial expressions emphasize Christ's
two natures as fully God and fully human.

What follows is a recent communication with a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.

I'm wondering if I might get your thoughts on something that causes me uncertainty. From what I've seen on your blog, perhaps you might have some advice/reflections to share on the subject? I see no biblical basis to oppose the idea that the Earth and Universe are billions of years old, and that there was animal death before the Fall. My uncertainty touches on the idea that humans were first created millions of years ago, but the historical time frame of the Bible beginning around 4000 BC or so? I can't wrap my mind around that. Millions of years just seems like an unnecessary amount of time from the creation of man and the Fall, to the eventual coming of Christ, doesn't it? Could there be any reason for this? I'm at a loss on how to look at the origin of mankind. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

You are asking good questions! In response, let's consider 3 points:

1. The Bible isn't about human origins. It makes theological assertions (propositions) about humans that can't be verified by science. The most important assertion is that humans were created from the beginning in the image of the Immortal God. Most of the Church Fathers and theologians find in this assertion the idea that humans were created to enjoy eternal life; that is, we have the potential to be immortal. As to how this was affected by the Fall, the Latin and Greek Fathers take different positions. The Eastern Church never speaks of sin being passed from Adam to his descendants. Instead, each person bears the guilt and shame of his or her own sin. What then does humanity inherit from Adam? In the Eastern view, it is a condition, or a disease. This disease results in corruption and death, which St. Paul also points to in I Corinthians 15:21. Cyril of Alexandria teaches that humanity became “diseased… through the sin of one." If we attend to the Biblical text closely, that is the sin of Eve, the crown of creation. Her action of submitting to the will of a base creature represents an inversion of the hierarchical order in creation, so that all of the creation is subjected to decay. The nature of all things became corrupted in the Fall, but the divine image in humanity was not erased, and the state of Paradise will be restored.

2. That brings us to the second point. The entire trajectory of the Bible is about how God makes man immortal. In other words, the message is less about human origins than it is about the origin of Messianic hope. Through Messiah, the Son of God, we die to death and rise to immortality. Through his work, we receive forgiveness of sins, justification, and deliverance from the second death.

The Bible speaks of two distinct deaths. The Apostle Paul explains that those who die in Christ will rise in Him on the Last Day. These will not die the "second death" of which John speaks in Revelation 2:11 - "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death."

The Risen Messiah is to lead his followers to immortality. Among the Horite Hebrew, the welfare of the people depended on the righteousness of their ruler. The test of absolute righteousness was the ruler's bodily resurrection. The grave would not be able to hold the Righteous Ruler, and upon his bodily resurrection, he would lead his people to eternity. This royal procession language is found in Ps. 68:18; Ps. 7:7, and Eph. 4:8. Jesus is the only Horite Hebrew ruler-priest to fulfill the Messianic hope.

3. That brings us to the third point. The Young-Earth interpretation is based on Bishop Ussher's dating of the so-called "begats" in Genesis. But Bishop Ussher goofed! He did not recognize that the lists of Genesis 4, 5, 10, 11, 25 and 36 are king lists, not lists of the first people on earth. These lists can't be used to calculate the age of the earth by adding the years the rulers lived. This is to abuse this material. In this sense, Young-Earth Creationism is not biblical. The rulers listed are the ancestors of the Horite Hebrew ruler-priest lines. Among them are Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Amram, Moses, Elkanah, Samuel, David, and Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.

This chart shows the Horite Hebrew rulers of Edom who are listed in Genesis 36. This is the clan of Seir the Horite. These are Abraham's people. Edom was called "Idumea" by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people" and at least two rulers of Edomite blood are noted for their red skin tone: Esau and David. Horite Hebrew were devotees of the Creator and his son Horus. Horite is "Horim" in Hebrew. Jews call their ancestors their Horim.

We will continue this conversation in a discussion of The Historical Adam. Your questions about Adam and the age of the earth are important! Thanks for asking, and "Welcome home!"

Alice C. Linsley