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eNews For The Week Of June 01, 2015


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In This Week’s Issue

In The News

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Articles and Commentary

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In The News

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As old-line Southern Baptist churches struggle, a dying one has an epiphany

May 30, 2015

For the past decade, the denomination has been in what its leaders describe as a “discouraging” retreat. Although Southern Baptists remain by far the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, with an estimated 15 million members, a steady decline in overall numbers — of members, baptisms and churches — has led to much soul-searching and the realization that survival depends on becoming less insular and more diverse.

Washington Post

Christian beheads jihadist in Syria revenge killing: monitor

May 29, 2015

A Syrian Christian fighter has beheaded an Islamic State group (IS) militant to avenge people “executed” by the jihadists in northeastern Syria, a monitor said on Friday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the incident took place on Thursday in Hasakeh province, where IS holds large areas of the countryside.

AFP

A New York court will determine whether chimpanzees have legal rights

May 27, 2015

This morning New York’s Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether chimpanzees deserve to be given legal rights — specifically two chimps named Hercules and Leo being held in captivity by Stony Brook University in New York State for use in an anatomical research programme.

The Telegraph

US-China war ‘inevitable’ unless Washington drops demands over South China Sea

May 26, 2015

China has vowed to step up its presence in the South China Sea in a provocative new military white paper, amid warnings that a US-China war is “inevitable” unless Washington drops its objections to Beijing’s activities.

The Telegraph

Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse

May 26, 2015

A United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer — a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

FOX News

The silent missile that can destroy enemy electronics with microwave pulses

May 26, 2015

From Ocean’s Eleven to Star Trek, weapons that wipe out enemy electronics are a staple of science fiction films. For years, scientists have been attempting to create such a weapon as part of Champ, or the Counter-electronics High-powered microwave Advanced Missile Project. Now, the US Air Force claims it has advanced the technology, and says it can deploy it using the stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM).

Daily Mail

Hebrew inscriptions, jewels of Palmyra’s Jewish past, may be lost forever

May 25, 2015

Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past, including the longest Biblical Hebrew inscription from antiquity: the opening verses of the Shema carved into a stone doorway.

Times of Israel


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Articles And Commentary

Calling Evil Good

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Isaiah 5:20, 23

How terrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute what is bitter for what is sweet and what is sweet for what is bitter!

— Isaiah 5:20, ISV

The Battle of Yorktown effectively ended the American Revolutionary War. When British General Cornwallis surrendered, tradition has it that the British band played the “The World Turned Upside Down”, a tune that underscored the strange turn of events which had brought defeat at the hands of the provincial forces of America, to the most powerful country in Europe.

Today there is another battle going on where insurgents have taken on one of the most powerful forces in the world and may also win.

There is an assault on the Judeo-Christian worldview by a coalition of groups among them: atheists, Muslims, and secular-humanists who have very little in common except for their common hatred of Judaism and Christianity in all its forms.

Same Sex Marriages

Countries that allow gay marriage

While recognizing same sex marriages has made inroads across the world (see figure above), some of the most vehement attacks are coming from within.

The Enemy Within

More and more Christian denominations are open to ordaining openly, practicing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) pastors for their flocks. The first mainline denomination in the United States to ordain openly gay clergy was the United Church of Christ—UCC in 1972. Other groups include the Church of Sweden where clergy may serve in senior clerical positions. In 2003 the United Church of Christ General Synod called for full inclusion of transgender persons. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America decided in August 2009 to accept gay, lesbian, and bisexual clergy in sexually active monogamous relationships. (The first openly transgender leader of an ELCA congregation was ordained in 2014 in San Francisco.)

Many more congregations allow their clergy to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Anglican Church of Canada (in some dioceses) are some of the churches. The United Protestant Church of France performs blessings of same-sex couples. In 2013, Church of England indicated that it plans the blessing of same-sex unions.[19] It is, however, forbidden by law to conduct same-sex marriages within its churches. In New Zealand, the Aotearoa Quaker Meeting in 1995 pledged “to seek formal ways of recognizing a variety of commitments, including gay and lesbian partnerships.” On March 18, of this year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to formally sanction homosexual marriage.

Even with this degradation of the meaning of marriage, many people are lobbying for even more inroads into defining what a marriage is. There are people who want to extend marriage rites not only to a man having multiple spouses (polygyny) or a woman having multiple husbands (polyandry), but also for a marriage having multiple husbands and wives (polyamory). While these practices have been around for millennia, it is only recently where “First World” countries are starting to recognize them.

Abortion

Abortion has been practiced for millennia; through most of history, it was induced by herbal chemistry. Both contraceptives and abortion-inducing agents were used by a variety of cultures. An inscription from ancient Sumer lists what is likely a recipe for inducing abortion, and Egyptian papyri dating as far back as 1500 BC make references to chemicals being used to induce abortion. The earliest medical writing from Egypt, dated around 1850 BC, contains recipes for preventing conception.

Historical Context

A variety of opinions seem to have surrounded the practice of abortion in antiquity. For example, Virgil used the word “children” to describe the unborn, and Juvenal used the word “humans” to describe a fetus in the womb. On the other hand, Aristotle wrote about abortion in a way that may indicate the practice was considered normal.

The Early Church

Many of the early church fathers spoke out about the practice of abortion. John Chrysostom in the East and Jerome in the West both condemned it. Other examples include:

In the first few hundred years of Christianity, the discussion of abortion revolved around when the unborn fetus actually became human. That practice has continued to this day.

As medical advances have shown a baby can survive outside the womb at an earlier and earlier age, ethicists have posited that a fetus becomes human at a later and later time. Many now consider it ethical to kill a child as it starts down the birth canal, but not fully delivered. When all but the head is delivered, a procedure called “partial-birth abortion” kills the baby just seconds before the baby takes its first breath of life.

But it does not end there.

Many now put a “quality of life” as a measure of life. If a child is born with a birth defect that could cause an “undue economic or emotional” hardship on the mother, that child can be aborted. As one woman said, “I believe that my rights, my health, my consciousness, and my obligations to others—including to my toddler daughter—outweigh the rights of the unborn human inside me.”

But it still does not end there.

Some medical “ethicists” believe that a child can be killed even after it has been born. The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” The abstract of the paper states:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that:

  1. Both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons,
  2. The fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and
  3. Adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people

The authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

They have also stated that abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. Their reasoning goes as follows:

1) The fetus and the newborn are morally equivalent. “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

2) The fetus and the newborn are both “potential persons”. Although fetuses and newborns are not persons, they are potential persons because they can develop, thanks to their own biological mechanisms, those properties which will make them ‘persons’ in the sense of ‘subjects of a moral right to life’: that is, the point at which they will be able to make aims and appreciate their own life.”

They also disallow adoption as an alternative to post-birth abortion. They state that the argument for carrying a child to term and beyond, “… it is not strong enough to outweigh the consideration of the interests of actual people. Indeed, however weak the interests of actual people can be, they will always trump the alleged interest of potential people to become actual ones, because this latter interest amounts to zero.”

In the conclusion of the paper they state:

If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.

It is a sad, but true statement that the most dangerous place in the world for a child is inside their mother’s womb.

You Can’t Make This Up

In another new and disturbing paper that has been peer-reviewed and published, two philosophers recently profiled by Australia’s ABC network have taken what is already a runaway definition of “equality” to a whole new level of ridiculous.

Professors Adam Swift of the University of Warwick and Harry Brighouse of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, think they’ve found the root source of inequality in society: the family.

Social scientists have long realized and written on the benefits that loving, intact families give children. Studies have shown that the children in these types of families are more likely to attend college, less likely to suffer or perpetrate abuse, less likely to do drugs or cross the law, and have a higher likelihood of passing on these advantages to their own children. One would think this would make us want good families in our society. But Swift and Brighouse don’t think that’s fair.

Swift stated, “If the family is this source of unfairness in society, then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.”

As the humorist Dave Barry would write, “I’m not making this up.”

While even Swift and Brighouse realize that abolishing the family would be overboard (for now), they offer an alternative. Their alternative is to hobble intact families—especially those with means—by prohibiting private school, inheritance, summer camp, and other “purely economic means” of conferring advantage on children.

They also believe that since bedtime stories also give kids a leg-up in life, they think those that to read to their children should “occasionally” feel bad about reading to their kids.

A World Turned Upside Down

Such a scenario brings to mind C. S. Lewis’ famous epilogue to The Screwtape Letters, entitled, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast.” In it, the retired tempter tells graduates of a demonic college to teach humans that good habits—the kind that improve society (kind of like the family does)—are “undemocratic.” Instead of nurturing and encouraging virtues like morality and academic excellence, he says, humans should be trained to resent and destroy them.

The goal, says Screwtape, is the “elimination of every kind of human excellence—moral, cultural, social, or intellectual.”

There are other examples on the world calling good evil and evil good. A new game called, “Charlie, Charlie”, summoning demons has taken social media by storm. There is also a new TV series coming out called “Lucifer“ The series will focus on Lucifer, ”who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals."

While one would hope that the above scenarios will not be taken to their logical conclusion, past recent history paints a different scenario.

In a world that has been turned upside down, we need to be like the Christ’s disciples in the Book of Acts:

“When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials and shouted, “These fellows who have turned the world upside down have come here, too,” (Acts 17:6, ISV)

If we turned this world upside down, maybe it will be “right-side up” again.

Additional Reading


On the Mark of the Beast, Part 2

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Binary Key

Ed. Note: What follows is Part Two of a three-part series on the Mark of the Beast. The author, Dr. William Welty, is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as Research Analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute.

All Biblical citations are taken from the International Standard Version (ISV) translation of the Bible.

The Clue is in the Causative

The Apostle John’s description of the mark of the beast was recorded in the New Testament as a Greek koine narrative. The Greek language does not contain the rich nuance of volitional persuasion that is connoted by the Hebrew language causative verb form. While most non-Hebrew language Bible readers may not be familiar with the Hebrew causative, almost every Bible reader is familiar with Psalm 23. Note how the Psalmist’s use of the Hebrew causative verb form brings out the subtle influence of God as he acts as shepherd to David, persuading him to take the actions described in verse two of the psalm:

“The LORD is the one who is shepherding me; I lack nothing. He causes me to lie down in pastures of green grass; he guides me beside quiet waters.”

— Psalm 23:1–2, ISV

Do notice, if you would, how David confesses that it is God who is causing him to lie down, but there’s no suggestion that this action is being taken against his will.

A set of Gussos tefillin in the Ashkanazi tradition

Above: A set of Gussos tefillin in the Ashkanazi tradition

For David to lie down in the pasture is an act of active cooperation on David’s part, but he’s being motivated to make the choice and act on that choice by God’s outward and inward influence.

The same lack of brute force contained within the context of outward and inward influence is connoted by the Apostle John in Revelation 13:16’s use of the Greek dative declension of the personal pronoun “them” to describe the second beast influencing all sorts of people “to take for themselves the mark” (Greek: ἵνα δῶσιν αὐτοῖς χάραγμα), the actual nuance of the dative declension here. The description by the Apostle John of the mark is that it will be placed either on the right hand or on the forehead of the person receiving it. This is a not-so-subtle clue to anyone familiar with the Torah of the antecedent theology from the earliest days of national Israel’s existence that the mark of the beast will be a rival or substitute for devotion to the true God of Israel.

The obvious word picture being described compares the mark of the beast to the Tefillim (or phylacteries) worn by righteous Jews. Just as the phylacteries were placed on the right hand or on the forehead of the faithful of ancient Israel, so also will these modern followers of the false prophet, the Beast, and their false god who animates them adopt to themselves an imitation emblem that mocks the faithful of ancient Israel.

Ornate configuration of tefillin straps and design convey the name of God

Above: Ornate configuration of tefillin straps and design convey the name of God

I has been suggested in recent years that the Greek letters chi, ksi, and sigma (Greek: χ, ξ, and ς, used to indicate the three separate Greek numbers 600, 60, and 6) may bear a visual resemblance to the Aramaic rendering of the Shahadatan, the standard Arabic language confessional statement of the unity of Allah and of the significance of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Dr. Albrecht is aware of this view, but rejects it outright. In our view, this rejection is without scholarly merit.

Arabic language illustration of the Shahadatan confession of allegiance to Allah

Above: Arabic language illustration of the Shahadatan confession of allegiance to Allah

Above – Top: Arabic abbreviation of the Shahadatan. Bottom: Greek miniscule letters for 600, 60, and 6

Hints from Codex Sinaiticus (ca. 350 AD)

One of the bases upon which Dr. Albrecht rejects Shoebat’s thesis is Shoebat’s observation that a horizontal bar written across the top of the Greek letters representing the numbers 60 and 6 are added by Shoebat to bolster his claim that the philological appearance of the sequence of Greek letters bears a visual resemblance to the Shahadatan. Aside from Dr. Albrecht’s ignorance concerning the elements of the Greek alphabet (such as her confusing the name of the miniscule Greek letter sigma (ς) with the Latin language word stigma, which means “mark”), Dr. Albrecht is just plain wrong about the use of horizontal marks in Greek manuscripts. Their presence in NT Greek manuscript philology is not only abundant and common, a study of their usage and function is a component element of elementary Greek exegetical analysis and textual criticism. We take the liberty of citing two examples from Codex Sinaiticus to illustrate this pattern of using horizontal marks in the Greek text to indicate abbreviations.

1. The Divine Name

The earliest indications that Christians considered Jesus to be Yahweh Elohim incarnate is seen by examining how the first known manuscripts of the Greek New Testament depict the name “Jesus” and many predicate nominatives that refer to him. It is common knowledge that Jews were, as an almost inviolate rule, averse to pronouncing the holy name of God. Even today, many orthodox Jewish publishing houses will refrain from spelling out the English noun “God” in their English language manuscripts, preferring instead to spell the word as “G-d” so as to avoid violating the Third Commandment.

The writers of the New Testament gospels were Jews. When they wrote Greek words that refer to HaShem, that is, pronouns that refer to deity (such as the Greek word kyrios, which means “Lord”), they would follow this ancient tradition. One of the clearest examples demonstrating that the early copyists of New Testament manuscripts were following in that Jewish tradition of avoiding spelling out references to deity can be found in the text of Codex Sinaiticus, which is arguably considered the earliest extant copy of the New Testament. It has been dated reliably to about the middle of the fourth century, AD We reproduce below a sample portion of Matthew 23:39–24:1 from Codex Sinaiticus, along with a Greek transcription and English translation of that text from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version.

How blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

The line immediately preceding this portion of Matthew 23:39–24:1 reads “…you will not see me again until you say,…” immediately followed by the text above, which translates as:

…“‘How blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” After Jesus had left the Temple and was walking away…

The first three lines of the uncial manuscript (i.e., a manuscript written completely in capital letters) depicted in the image above are a quotation by Jesus from Psalm 118:26, where the Masoretic Text phrase “name of the Lord“ spells the word LORD. This is a specific reference to Yahweh Elohim.

Do note, if you will please, how the Codex Sinaiticus copyist declined to spell out the name of God in the Greek text. Instead, he wrote out an abbreviation of the Greek word kyrios, using only the Greek letters KY. The letters come from the Greek genitive singular kyriou, which translate as “of the Lord”. Then he placed a short diacritical mark above the line, starting at the right edge of the letter “K” and extending about half way across the top of the capital letter “Y”. The presence of this diacritical mark is somewhat analogous to modern English grammatical usage of an apostrophe within a contraction to indicate missing letters that are to be supplied by the reader for comprehension. (For example, the contraction “don’t” is intended to mean “do not”.) Contractions were utilized when referring to deity out of a reluctance to violate the Third Commandment, which prohibits vain use of the name of God. But notice how in the very next line, that same copyist applied the tradition of not spelling out the name of God to not spelling out the name of Jesus. Instead, he spelled “Jesus” as “IS,” (i.e., printing the first and last letter of his name as a contraction), and then he added the same diacritical mark above those two letters that he did with the noun referring to God just a few lines above.

This pattern is so prevalent throughout Codex Sinaiticus, occurring dozens of times in the manuscript, that a clear and obvious pattern linking the name of Jesus and predicate nominative pronouns referring to Jesus with the sacred name of Yahweh Elohim cannot be denied. In sum, the copyists of the early New Testament manuscripts afforded Jesus the same reverence and honor when writing out his name and references to him that the reverent Jews extended to the sacred name “LORD”.


Next week, Dr. Welty will continue with Part 3 of his discussion on The Mark of the Beast.

Related Reading


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The views and opinions expressed in these articles, enews and linked websites are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Koinonia House. Koinonia House is providing this information as a resource to individuals who are interested in current news and events that may have an impact on Christian Life and Biblical trends. Koinonia House is not responsible for any information contained in these articles that may be inaccurate, or does not present an unbiased or complete perspective. Koinonia House disavows any obligation to correct or update the information contained in these articles.

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