Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Reformation

The sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century was a time where people were trying to find where they fit in with their beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church was at a point where there was corruption, greed, and power within the church. Many people didn't agree with how the church was being run or how the Catholic positions of power, such as the Pope, were treating the people of the land. The church started becoming more focused on how powerful they could be and less focused on God and salvation. Gonzalez states that "As the fifteenth century came to a close, it was clear that the church was in need of profound reformation, and that many longed for it. The decline and corruption of the papacy was well known." So who were the ones to lead the Reformation of the church, the ones with all the radical ideas and the ones brave enough to fight against the oppression and corruption of the church of their age? There are four phases that will be introduced in this short analysis of the four different reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
 The Lutheran Reformation was one of the first large reformations of this time that needs to be
introduced. Martin Luther played such a strong role on Christianity, that it is difficult to not bring him up in and conversation about the early church reformation. Martin Luther had a rough life early on and went from trying to find where he fit in to being one of the most renowned men in history. Martin Luther bounced around from ideal to ideal, such as self-mutilation (or monasticism) to practicing mysticism. It was not until Martin Luther started teaching on Romans around 1515 that he started realizing the true love of God and what that really meant. He had been advised in so many different directions and told so many untruths, now he started figuring things out for his own. Gonzalez states "Luther came to the conclusion that the "justification of God" does not refer, as he had been taught, to the punishment of sinners. It means rather that the "justice" or "righteousness" of the righteous is not their own, but God's." After this, Luther began writing and teaching on what he had found. He ended up writing the Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences where he started attacking the ideals of the church. The church was at a point where they were selling things just to make sure their pockets were satisfied, and this caused Martin Luther to write the Theses. The Theses ended up having more popularity that he had originally thought, and it started to take off. McGrath states that "Strictly speaking, the Lutheran Reformation really began in 1522, when Luther returned to Wittenberg from his enforced isolation in the Wartburg. Luther had been condemned by the Diet of Worms in 1521." This was after the famous nailing of his thesis to church door in Wittenberg challenging the church and challenging what they supported. The church was supporting John Tetzel, who would sell indulgences to people to help raise money for the church. In 1517, Martin Luther marked the start of the Protestant Reformation on the Eve of All Saints, and would be banished by the Council of Worms." Luther began to make his beliefs knows in saying that he didn't believe in private masses or private communions. He wanted the church to be opening their doors for people to become involved in the church activities. Luther also believed in infant baptism for the reason being to not believe it would be to "fall into the error of believing faith to be a human work, something we must do, and not a free gift of God." So Luther was one of the first to stand up to the church and their corruption, but there are others who follow.
            Ulrich Zwingli was like Luther in many ways. Zwingli and Luther had different outlooks on religion, but they had a lot of the same ideas and beliefs. Zwingli followed a lot of Luther's teachings but differed in many ways. One of the things that Zwingli believed that Luther didn't was Predestination. While both men both believed in the theory of predestination and saw it as Biblical, Zwingli thought that since God is all knowing, than God will know all who will go to Heaven. Luther and Zwingli also held different beliefs on the sacraments such as Zwingli refused to place any claim on sacraments, for it would limit the power of the Holy Spirit on people. The differences between Luther and Zwingli would ultimately provide two separate reformations; the Lutheran and the Reformed. Part of the Reformed Reformation leads to the Anabaptist movement. The Anabaptists came to be known for not baptizing infants, and becoming baptizes after showing faith in God. While Zwingli would not himself support these claims, or help baptize this group, he was one that helped this reformation come into existence. The Anabaptist movement started becoming more of a taboo to the church and people in positions of power, and many people early on would discard the Anabaptist beliefs. Weaver states "The Anabaptists encountered many more enemies than friends in high places. Several thousands surrendered their lives rather than their wills to the established churches." Not until later in the until after the time of Revolutionary Anabaptism did new leaders of the movement start following the cause. Bigger names such as Menno Simons, who started the Mennonite movement, started writing theses and starting supporting those who followed Anabaptism.
       While Zwingli might have been the start to the Reformed Reformation, it was really John Calvin that made the Reformed Reformation what it is and what we know it to be today. Walker says "His place chronologically, and, to a large extent, theologically, is among the heirs rather than the initiators of the Reformation." John Calvin grew up in an educated environment and it wasn't until after the death of his father that he started getting into the religious reforms. John Calvin came out with a short copy of the Institutes of Religion in 1536 and at the time was so small it could fit in a pocket for people to carry a copy around. The Institutes of Religion offered a small taste to Calvin's belief on religion as he saw it. While the Institutes is strong on discrediting the papacy, or papists in his words, he also offers many insights into subjects such as salvation and the Holy Spirit. While many credit Calvin with ideals in the Predestination field, that was not the main concern of Calvin's beliefs. Calvin had strong opinions on the communion of the church more than on the predestination. Many of the reformed churches at the time believed in a sort of predestination, they just supported different reasons for it. So Calvin didn't have to say much on that subject. Another subject that Calvin was took a firm stance on was the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Helm says that "For Calvin, God is essentially Trinitarian and this trinitarianism plays a fundamental role in his theology. He underlines this role by expounding it as an integral part of our knowledge of God the Creator. God is not only an immeasurable, spiritual being, but He is a trinity of distinct but indivisible persons." This was a cause for the church to be an uproar. John Calvin later went from making the Institutes of Religion to a four volume book that you definitely cannot keep in your pocket. (Believe me, I have a copy.)
            The last part of the reformation to be explored is the English Reformation. The time of the English Reformation was an incredibly bloody time. The English Reformation started around the time King Henry VIII was king. To understand this era, we have to understand that the majority of royalty followed the ways of the Roman Catholic Church and not the way of Protestants. There were some supporters of the Protestants along the way, but the majority kept the Catholic ways and were usually devout Catholics. While the English royalty practiced Catholicism, they persecuted Protestants. Of course, the Protestants don't deal well with opposition, so this created many bloody times. Everything was changing with the Reformation, and with change comes opposition. Shagan states "These changes represented an incursion of religious innovation into English culture without necessitating that the people who actualised them did so systematically, and without requiring the sorts of epiphanies that we associate with conversion narratives." This in other words means that the conversion process of the people during the English Reformation may not have been done in the most of tactful ways.
            While this is a short study of different times and periods of the Reformation, there is much more that can be discussed. The Reformation had a bloody past, but as a church today we have gathered much information and have a guideline to follow. Many of our beliefs today as a church come from the early beliefs of one of these reformers. I, for one, don't believe that the Reformation was done in tactful ways. There was a lot of ego being thrown around, and deciding who was right, but in the meantime, many were killed for just believing something different; from both sides.


Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story Of Christianity Vol. II. New York: HarperCollins. 2010.
Helm, Paul. John Calvin's Ideas. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Group. 2004.
McGrath, Alister. E. Reformation: An Introduction. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell. 2011.
Shagan, Ethan H. Popular Politics and the English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge                   University Press. 2003.
Walker, Williston. John Calvin: The Organizer of Reformed Protestantism 1509 to 1564.                 Kessinger Publishing. 2006. (Reprint)
Weaver, Denny J. Becoming Anabaptist: The Origin and Significance of Sixteenth-Century                         Anabaptism. Scottdale: Herald Press. 1987.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Theorists and philosophers have debated many issues over the years. Is there a God, when was the universe created, how did mankind come into existence? Much of the Bible is prophecy. Prophecy is defined as a prediction yet to come to pass. The prophecies of the Bible will be debated until the end of time, until the Lord can answer all of our questions for us. One of the most prophetic books of the Bible is Revelation. The Revelations God gave to John will on the island of Patmos have been debated for ages. One of the most debated subjects of Revelation is the millennium. Revelation 20:1-6 says “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”1 We will now explore the different views of the millennium: dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism. Each view holds their own strong points and negatives.

The first view of the millennium is dispensational premillennialism. This view states that "hold that Christ will come before a seven-year period of intense tribulation to take His church (living and dead) into heaven. After this period of fulfillment of divine wrath, He shall then return to rule from a holy city (i.e., the New Jerusalem) over the earthly nations for one thousand years."2 This view holds that the Millennium with Christ on earth will exist after the seven year period of tribulation in which the bowl judgments and the trumpet judgments will be poured upon the Earth. This view is held by those who take the Bible in a literal sense, and that follow the Bible on a chronological basis. The tribulation period will happen and then Christ will return for a 1000 year span. The believers who became believers during the tribulation and believers will peacefully populate the earth and those who were raptured seven years prior will reign with Christ in the New Jerusalem during the millennium. According to, this view is said to have been "declared a heresy in ancient times, was reintroduced circa 1830."3 The reason being is that many believe that since there is an uprising in Revelation 20:7-10 where nations fight against Jesus Christ. Why after the return of the Messiah on Earth are there still people fighting against God. This view would mean that either natural born people will be born through the Millennium and there will still be sin or that Christians that are in the New Jerusalem with Christ will sin against Jesus. Proponents against this view hold 1 Corinthians 15:22-28 as a foothold. The proponents state that all earthly governing authority will be abolished by Christ during the 1000 year reign of Christ. In 1830 John Darby reintroduced the subject of this topic and used Revelation 20:1-6 as a foothold for his beliefs. He claimed that this use of the millennium is literal and takes Revelation as a timeline laid out for us. While I do agree with the opponents of premillennialism, it may be that the opposing forces in Revelation, after the Millennium, may be influenced by the release of Satan from his cage. After the millennium there will be a final war between saints and demons.

The next view goes along with the last view in most senses and that is historic premillennialism. The major difference between the two beliefs is that this view holds that Christ will return for His people and rapture them after the seven year tribulation. This theory was held by much of the church during the first few centuries of the Christian church. Directly after the return of Christ is the millennium of Christ where once again the Christians will be with Christ in the New Jerusalem, but it does not hold any timeline in between the rapture and the return to the New Jerusalem during the millennium. According to LaHaye "Toward the end of the third century, an allegorical approach to Scripture began to dominate theological thought...Not until after the Reformation was there a revival of premillennial thought."4 He goes on to say that this is the most understood theory in today's church age, but does not state whether it is historic or dispensationalist. I understand his thinking to be mostly dispensationalist.

The next main view is Postmillennialism. This view holds that the millennium is not a literal 1000 years, but the time that is fulfilled through the spreading of the gospels. This view holds that the time after Christ is the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham and the peace of the church. While they hold that the millennium is an actual time from Revelation, they don't hold that it is an actual 1000 years. According to Boettner "It is an indefinitely long period of time, perhaps much longer than a literal one thousand years."5 This theory does not mean that when Christ returns that He will return to a world with all Christians, but to a world that where Christianity is not the unusual thing, but where Christianity is more accepted as the norm. Some do claim that Christ will return to a Christianized world. This view was incredibly popular up until the twentieth century. LaHaye says "It was all but eliminated as a result of the World Wars, the Great Depression, and the overwhelming escalation of moral evil in society."6 I agree with LaHaye on this as I don't see Christianity on the rise, but more of a lack of respect and a misunderstanding on Christians as a whole.

The next view is amilllennialism. This view holds that the time of the church was put into place after the resurrection of Christ. When Christ rose again, he gained control and power over Satan and at the time is where the millennium started. This view does not hold a literal interpretation of Revelation 20. They hold that at the time of Christ's return, this will bring in the judgment of Christ. The believers of this theory see no actual reign of Christ on Earth as we know it. Many of these believers hold the Bible verse II Timothy 4:1 to a literal approach when it says "who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing" as meaning that His judgment will come at His next appearing. I believe this is a loose translation of this verse. I do believe that one day we will all be judged by our God and Savior, but to use this as meaning there will be no millennium on Earth, and avoiding other Scripture that points to a millennium does not make much sense.
It's strange to see such a difference in beliefs in Eschatology.

It seems that the only things that Christians can agree on when it comes to Revelation is that Christ will return, that Christians will be risen at some point and a judgment. When it comes to the rest of Revelation, there is no agreement. In my opinion, I hold to believe the dispensationalist premillennialist theory. I take a literal approach to the book of Revelation and it's time table. When Revelation 20 holds that there will be a millennium after the tribulation, I hold that literally. I believe that Satan will be let out of his cage for a short time and that will cause some havoc. But Christ and His army will fight for peace. After this there will be a great judgment where even demons will confess The Lord to be God.

Boettner, Loraine. The Millennium. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), 1957. 14.

Blue Letter Bible. Four Views on the Millennium. Last accessed May 11, 2013.

LaHaye, Tim. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers), 2004. 234

Robinson, B.A. Competing Theories of Eschatology, End Times, Millennialism. 2012. Last accessed May 11, 2013.

1All Biblical references will be made from the NIV version unless otherwise noted.
2 Blue Letter Bible. Accessed May 11, 2013.
3 Robinson, B.A. Competing Theories of Eschatology, End Times, Millennialism. 2012.
4 LaHaye, Tim. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. 234.
5 Boettner, Loraine. The Millennium. 14
6 LaHaye. 234.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Crusaders and the Church

The time of the Crusades was a bloody era and has left a stain on the Christian name. There were many people murdered under the "Christian" name during the time of the Crusades. A lot of people in our era have modernized or made a spectacle of the Crusader period, but it was a bloody time in our history. The question is if God used this time of evil for His good. Often God will use the evils committed by mankind or by Satan himself to further His will. So this will explore the time periods of the Crusades and how it affected Christianity.

            First to give some information on what the Crusades were about and who      exactly were the Crusaders. The Crusades took place between the years of 1095-1270 A.D. (Not including some Crusades further on in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries) According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia the Crusades main
objective was to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny.[1] The
Mohammedan movement was derived from the false prophet Mohammed, which
started the Islam movement. The Crusades are split into eight separate divisions. Each Crusade was conducted by a leader looking to further the Christian name throughout the known land; but at what cost?

            The first crusade was from about 1095 to 1101. The decree for war against the pagans went out by Pope Urban II to fight and win the Holy land back. The main
purpose of this first crusade was to rescue the Holy Sepulchre; which is the tomb that Jesus was supposed to be buried in. The Crusade started with a council in
Clermont-Ferrand that had many religious figures attending, as well as knights and people ready for battle. This is where the movement of the Crusades started it. People began rushing through Europe yelling Deus vult! which is Latin for God wills it! Most of these troops were disorganized, broke and didn't have much equipment, but they surged through German cities taking what they found and killing Jews on the way. The armies of Crusaders pushed on through many cities, even to Constantinople. The troops gathered on Constantinople and moved on again. Everywhere they went they caused destruction and murder. With help from locals and others favoring the cause, the Crusaders started making weapons to get into cities. Time and again the Crusaders were struck with riches, such as the Holy Lance, or they were struck with misfortune, such as sickness and being overrun by armies. But on July 14, 1099, the
Crusaders stormed Jerusalem killing everybody that they ran into regardless of gender or age. After conquering Jerusalem, the Crusaders named a lord over the conquest, who was Godfrey of Bouillon, whose brother would later be named King of Jerusalem. After this the Christians started forming treaties and started prospering and creating a more peaceful environment. So the good part to this crusade was that they got their homeland back, but there was a lot of bloodshed in the name of God during this

            The second Crusade was headed up by King Louis VII from 1145-1147. Many of the Turkish people were starting to re-claim land from the First Crusade. So Pope Eugene III sent St. Bernard, a monk, to preach a second crusade. During this time King Lois was trying to find penance for slaughtering a group of people hidden in a church in a fire he started. So when the King heard the preaching for the Second Crusade, he stepped in to help lead the charge. This is one reason this Crusade was different from the first. The First Crusade started with a bunch of vagabonds, with people who had barely anything to their names. This Crusade started with Kings and princes. One of the kings in charge of an army was the German king. So you now have both the French king and the German king leading armies across Europe for the Crusaders, which causes friction and confusion. You have two separate leaders of two different armies doing the same thing. This Crusade failed fast. With bad leadership and bad decisions made by the German army, the support for this Crusade started failing. One of the things the German army did that didn't help the Christians is they destroyed the palace at Philopatium, which didn't help the Crusaders cause. Another reason this Crusade failed fast was King Louis was called home and left an empty army.

            The Third Crusade, which was led by Richard Coeur-de-Lion; also known as Richard the Lionheart; and Philip Augustus, is probably one of the most famous because of the back story of Robin Hood. This Crusade lasted from 1188-1192. The land of Jerusalem was once again taken by pagans, or the Muslim people. The leader was King Saladin, who had fought for many years spreading the Muslim religion. The king met a group of Christians and slaughtered them and re-took Jerusalem. Pope Clement III called for a new Crusade to re-capture the Holy land and according to Donald this call-to-arms was received enthusiastically by many of the great nobles and princes of Europe.[2] There were so many people slaughtered by Saladin that people, royals and Christians alike, were ready to re-capture the Holy Land. While the Crusade hit many bumps and bruises along their trip, there was a huge dark spot on the Christian name during this Crusade. At one time, Richard had captured some of Saladin's men. While negotiating with Saladin, Richard slaughtered over 2,700 men, women and children. At the end of the Crusade, they had yet to re-capture the Holy land, and they also caused a large bruise on the Christians as a whole.

            The fourth Crusade was from 1202-1204. This Crusade was the Crusade that stood against what the goal of the church actually was. This Crusade was an attack against Constantinople. The church, under Pope Innocent III, started calling on knights and people to re-claim Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Innocent started calling on many Christians to join the Crusades and made treaties with many nations including
Germany. But with the influx in people, the church started losing control of the people. The Crusade attacked Egypt in 1201 and chose a ruler that was openly against the church. After this, unknown to the Pope, the Crusades went on and attacked
Constantinople. It's almost as the church lost all complete control of this Crusade and the people took matters into their own hands. But eventually the church changed their minds on the subject and as Gonzalez puts it eventually decided that it was God's way of reuniting the church.[3]

            In between the fourth and fifth Crusade was an interesting event, the Childrens Crusade. The Crusades were becoming the popular thing to do so a bunch of children, with some men, marched towards Lombardy where they lost terribly. It is said that many of these children were sold into slavery.

            The fifth Crusade started in about 1217. The Christian Holy Land is still under pagan control and they have yet to take back Jerusalem. Since the church still needs to get their land back, Pope Innocent III starts calling for people to capture a Crusade to go to Jerusalem. But the Christians were sick of being defeated and they had different wars going on with each other. So Pope Innocent III turned to idle Christians and offered them indulgence for joining. In 1217 the new Crusade left for Acre. There were some successes in this Crusade as they gained some land back from the Egyptians. But as they got closer to the NIle, they forgot about flood season, and got trapped. So this Crusade ended up running back home.

            The sixth Crusade from 1228-1229 was one of the shortest Crusades, but the most successful of the last few. The Roman Emperor Frederick II felt guilty for the last Crusade failing, so he started gathering forces to go attack Jerusalem to gain back the Holy Land. However, the papacy at the time didn't agree with his Crusade, so they excommunicated Frederick. Although he lost some favor and men, Frederick still went on to Jerusalem. In 1229 Frederick walked into Jerusalem and accomplished what the last many Crusades could not and reclaimed the Holy Land. Shortly after, the church lifted their excommunication. Not only did this Crusade do what many others couldn't, but it also decreased the popularity of the papacy.

            About 15 years later, Jerusalem was recaptured by the Muslims. The next two Crusades are the last to re-capture the Holy Land, and they go on to fight against Egypt and the Muslim sect.

            Throughout all of these Crusades, we see a lot of bloodshed on both sides of the war. Christians, or the church, claim just as many lives as the pagan communities. All the lives were claimed in the name of God. The lives of men, women and children were taken in the name of claiming the Holy Land. You have to ask yourself, was it worth it?


Bréhier, Louis. Crusades. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908), 4 May 2013 <>.

   Donald, Angus. A Brief Overview of the Third Crusade. 2010. 4 May 2013. 

    Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Vol. 1. (New York: HarperCollins), 2010

[1]     Brehier, Louis. Crusades. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4.
[2]     Donald, Angus. A Brief Overview of the Third Crusade.
[3]     Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Vol. 1. (New York: HarperCollins), 2010. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Persecution and suffering

James Clouse
Discussion Board – Forum 3

Is suffering persecution normal for a Christian?
In today's culture, we hear a lot about persecution. Persecution on Christians seems to be left out of a lot of people's conversations. Often mentioned when thinking about persecution is persecuting homosexuals for their lifestyle, or persecution of a certain race of people. Americans, in many cases, tend to forget about persecution of Christians because it is not as big as a problem as it used to be...or is it? There are still many Christians around the world being persecuted for their beliefs, even put to death. According to there is still “200 million Christians around the world who suffer persecution for their faith in Christ.”1

So is this the norm for Christians, are we due to always suffer persecution? As many know, at the start of the church and all through the Book of Acts, the apostles and Christians suffered persecution and death. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says “Beloved, do not think it is strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”2 So even from the beginning, persecution was normal for Christians. The creator of Christianity, Christ himself, was put to death for so called “blasphemy”. I believe that persecution is not only normal for Christians, but Christians should also be welcome to it. As Romans 5 says “but not only that, we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character...”

So, is God involved in the suffering of a Christian, both regular suffering and persecution?
Many people ask why there is still so much suffering in the world. Why would God allow so much suffering and persecution in the world if He loves us? Slick states it well when he says “God is sovereign; He has the right to do as He wishes. He has the right to permit evil for accomplishing His ultimate will. How can He do that? Simple, look at the Cross. It was by evil means that men lied and crucified Jesus.”3 There are many reasons persecution and evil exist in this world. Some of these reasons we know and some we don't. Sometimes God allows evils/sufferings in the world to stop future evil. Sometimes God may also use that persecution and evil for a reason, whether to grow us as Christians or to make us the person He needs us to be.

1Fact Sheet. Last accessed April 26, 2013.
2All Bible passages are NKJV unless otherwise noted.
3Slick, Matt. Why is There Evil and Suffering in the World? Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. .

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9

Within the Word of God there are numerous verses and passages that are up for interpretation. Whether we are reading from the book of Romans, Genesis or even Proverbs, there are passages that theologists and others will debate the true meaning for years to come. One of these passages up for debate comes from the Book of Daniel. Daniel chapters 7-12 is full of prophecy and visions from God that Daniel cannot understand without God's wisdom. One passage from Daniel that has been up for interpretation is Daniel 9:24-27 which says:

"A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until a ruler—the Anointed One —comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” 1
In this paper I will discuss what the fulfillment of the prophecy includes, when the starting and ending time for the prophecy is, how the division of the prophecy divides and what each division includes, and what the purpose of the prophecy was.
First thing is to explore the background to this verse. Daniel is now over 80 years old, about 65 years after he was taken captive from his home. King Darius, who was King Xerxes son, is now in control of the land in which Daniel is in. Daniel is in prayer to God trying to understand and have wisdom on the writings of Jeremiah the prophet. Daniel in Chapter 9:17-18 pleads with The Lord to restore the kingdom, which is Jerusalem. Daniel was aware that the prophecy by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29 by about to be fulfilled. The prophecy said that the 70 years of captivity was coming to an end. So Daniel pleaded to The Lord on wisdom on the prophecy and for The Lord to keep His promise even though His people are not following him. While Daniel is still praying, the angel Gabriel visits him. It is important to state that this visit was not just a dream or a vision, he came in human form. When Daniel says in Daniel 9:21 that Gabriel, the man I had seen in my vision. Daniel does not call him an angel of The Lord, or does he call this a dream or vision. Then Gabriel goes on to explain to him that he was there to give Daniel knowledge and understanding.
First we need to look at the time frame of the verses given. In verse 9:24, Gabriel states the phrase "seventy sets of seven." There are a lot of different minds that have tried to stipulate on exactly how this translates to modern day time frames. The four views brought up by Miller are: 1. "There are literal years extending through the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view, the "sevens" or "weeks" are made up of seven years each, resulting in a total period of 490 years."2 The second view is that "the "seventy sevens" are symbolic periods of time ending in the first century A.D. Young holds that the first period of seven sevens extends from Cyrus's decree allowing the return of the Jewish exiles in 538 B.C. to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.3 Thirdly, the other "symbolic periods of time ending at Christ's second coming...the seventy sevens are a prophecy of church history...from Cyrus's decree in 538 B.C. until the return of Christ at the end of age."4 The last viewpoint listed in the book by Miller is that "they are literal years ending with Christ's second coming. This view agrees with the first that the sevens are literal seven-year periods totaling 490 years."5 This last view splits up the years between the time of Ezra and Jeremiah, the next group of years from Christ coming in the beginning of the New Testament to modern day times. Then the last seven represent 7 years of tribulation. Zaspel puts it as "Given the details of the prophecy this "seventy periods of seven" must refer to periods of years. No other time period would allow enough time to embrace all the events specified. Furthermore, Daniel had been thinking in terms of periods of seven years, specifically ten of them."6 What is not described in this part is that these split of seven years are set in groups.
The groups of sevens are split up into 3 groups. The first "sevens" is seven sevens. This seven sevens is in reference to the time it takes for the city of Jerusalem to be re-built. In this passage we see the frustration of Daniel that the temple had not even been started yet, so that is why he is pleading to God. The second set of sevens is 62 sevens. Gabriel states in 9:25 that at the conclusion of the first set of sevens and the second group of sevens, that will lead to the "Anointed One, the ruler." Jesus was considered to be the ruler and the anointed one numerous times through the Old Testament and the New Testament. But we don't know at exactly what point the prophecy of the sixty-nine sevens was fulfilled. The fulfillment of the prophecy could have taken place at Jesus' birth, baptism or his sermon on Palm Sunday where he presented himself as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament prophecies. But many state that the fulfillment is most likely when Jesus started His ministry and that was after His baptism. But the second part of the second sevens was that the ruler and the Anointed one would be "cut off." This is the end of the of the second set of sevens. The third part to this passage is the coming destruction of the temple.
The coming destruction of the temple is a topic that many think has already happened. Many view this subject as a subject worth talking about. The coming apocalypse creates a lot of buzz in today’s society and there has been many people that try to use "Bible math" to figure out the date of this destruction. Some people see the destruction of the temple as when the Romans destroyed the temple in the 1st century. But Daniel's prophecy states that the person that will destroy the temple would come from the seventieth seven, and this would not fit the time frame of Daniel's prophecy. Some others say that the ruler or the people of the ruler to destroy the temple is the Jewish people who gave Jesus to die. John Calvin states "Without the slightest of doubt, he [Gabriel] here signifies that God would inflict dreadful vengeance on the Jews for their murder of his Christ."7 I find this interpretation hard to believe as one, it does not fit the timetable of the prophecy of Daniel. How can the two groups of weeks overlap each other? It is pretty clear that the second set of sevens is clearly defined as the start of either Jesus' ministry or His birth. In either of these cases, Calvin's interpretation of the weeks would overlap each other.
The last sevens of the prophecy of Daniel is the seven years of tribulation. Many view the fulfillment of the Seventieth week has already happened and that was with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As Gundry puts it "The making of a firm covenant (or confirming or causing to prevail of a covenant, v. 27a) refers to Christ's securing the benefits of the Abrahamic covenant of grace during His earthly ministry. (The subject of the verse according to this view is not "the prince who is to come," but another prince, "the Messiah.") The causing of the sacrifice and oblation to cease (v.27) has to do with the abrogation of animal sacrifices by Christ's self-sacrifice."8 Many view that when Christ dies, that this served as fulfillment of the prophecy. The part of the prophecy that states the sacrifice to cease is fulfilled by Jewish people no longer having to sacrifice animals as Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. But this again does not correlate with the time line of Daniel's prophecy. The last seven weeks spans over seven years. Halfway through the time of tribulation, the antichrist will most likely cease worship and sacrifice of ourselves to God, which means he will outlaw it. The antichrist plays an important role in this prophecy. The antichrist is portrayed here in Daniel 7 and Daniel 9. In Daniel 7 he is mentioned as leader of the European Union of Gentile nations. He is stated as in intellectual genius and an oratorical genius. As LaHaye and Hindson state it "The one called antichristos (antichrist) denies the existence of Christ, whereas pseudochristos (false Christ) affirms himself to be Christ. The Biblical picture is that he is both."9
While we can speculate on dates and time frames, people and meaning, no one will ever know for certainty on the true meaning of Daniel’s vision in chapter 9. It is one of the most debated Biblical topics of today’s age. While I believe that the last seven weeks have yet to be fulfilled in the seven years of tribulation, I can also see how many others can believe that it has already been fulfilled. The one thing that I need to remember personally is that no matter what, I know that if I pray for wisdom and guidance, to be ready for what God has in store for me. As Daniel was praying for help, guidance and wisdom, God gave him exactly what he asked for, and to this day, it is hard to interpret.


Calvin, John. John Calvin Commentary of the Book of Daniel. Last accessed April 21, 2013.

Gundry, Robert H. The Church and the Tribulation: On the Futurity of the Seventieth Week. Zonderman Publishing House. 1973. Accessed via

LaHaye, Tim. Hindson, Ed. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers), 2004.

Miller, Stephen R. The New American Commentary: Daniel. Vol. 18. (Nashville: B & H

Publishing Group). 1994. 253.

Zaspel, Fred G. Daniel's "Seventy Weeks". 1991. Accessed via Last accessed April 21, 2013.

1 Unless otherwise notes, all Bible references will be made in NKJV.
2 Miller, Stephen R. The New American Commentary: Daniel. Vol. 18. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group), 1994. 253
3 Ibid. 254.
4 Ibid. 255.
5 Ibid. 257.
6 Zaspel, Fred G. Daniel's "Seventy Weeks". 1991.
7 Calvin, John. John Calvin Commentary of the Book of Daniel. calcom25.iv.xxxv.html
8 Gundry, Robert H. On the Futurity of the Seventieth Week. Zonderman Publishing House. 1973. 188.
9 LaHaye, Tim. Hindson, Ed. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers.) 2004. 24.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Start of the Papacy

One of the greatest and most powerful kingdoms in all of history was the Roman Empire. This empire lasted from about 1st century BC to the 4th century AD. This kingdom was so powerful that we still have many traditions and saying that come from the Roman era such as war tactics, concrete, or even waste systems. So what happened with the Christian church after their oppression by the Roman church? Who took power in the government after Rome fell and what influence did Christianity have on the new authority?

In the 5th century, we see the decline of the Roman Empire. Some of the reasons for the fall of the empire vary. According to, the fall of the Roman Empire came from numerous reasons including decline in morals and values, public health, political corruption, unemployment, inflation, urban decay, inferior technology, military spending, and the last final blow was “In the third century A.D. The Roman soldiers were pulled back from the Rhine-Danube frontier to fight civil war in Italy. This left the Roman border open to attack.”

During this time, Christianity has experienced exponential growth. In Acts we see the church grow from a small handful of people to thousands of people come to know The Lord and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of these people that came to know Christ was Constantine. Constantine was a Roman emperor that was emperor from 306 to 337 A.D. Constantine was one of the first emperors to embrace the Christian faith. In the year 313 A.D., Constantine created the Edict of Milan that put an end to Christian intolerance and persecution. He was the one that started welcoming Christians into government jobs and the military. In the year 325 A.D, just at the end of Christian persecution, the Council of Nicea met. Gonzalez points something out that is important to remember when he says "In order to see that event in perspective of those who were there, it is necessary to remember that several of those attending the great assembly had recently been imprisoned, tortured, or exiled, and that some bore on their bodies the physical marks of their faithfulness." These men that were meeting at this council were the same men that were being persecuted just a few years before. And although Constantine had just become a Christian and not yet been baptized, he was the one who presided over the council. After this we can start to see some Christians in positions of authority around Constantine and see that he holds many in high regard. So we can see that when the Roman Empire starts to fall, there are most likely many Christians in positions of power within the Roman ranks. When the Roman Empire falls, where does the church go and what do they do?

There was a position that came into place that is still a tradition today. In the year 366, Pope Damasus was elected into the first position of Pope while the Roman Empire was still in existence. This election of the Pope was incredibly heated as there was a group of people trying to get another Pope elected in the chair of St. Peter. This group had a "number of over-zealous adherents of the deceased Liberius rejected him, chose the deacon Ursinus (or Ursicinus), had the latter irregularly consecrated, and resorted to much violence and bloodshed in order to seat him in the Chair of Peter." This started the inner fighting of different sects of beliefs within the Christian ranks. This one argument between two groups of people caused fighting and people to lose their lives; over doctrine of belief. Damasus also commissioned St. Jerome to revise the Latin edition of the Bible for the public. After the struggle with becoming pope, Damasus played a part in what was one of the largest battles won for the Catholic Church.

In the year 380 A.D., the famous edict of Theodosius I was written and put in place. Theodosius I was the last Roman emperor of the known Roman Empire. Theodosius was one to help put a stop to most of the pagan practices in the Roman culture. The edict put into place in the year 380 said that the only true religion was the Catholic religion. In this that you must believe God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and that they are all equal in deity. Many today say that this one event helped shape the fall of false god worship in Rome and surrounding areas, but also help shape a bias against all other people. The next year, Theodosius made more laws (Theodosian Codes 16.1.2 and 16.5.6) which marked "the first time the legal code coerced people to become Christians. They made orthodox catholic Christianity the official dogma of the church and suppressed the Arian factions." This is when some bad comes in. After these laws were passed, people claiming to be Christians started reversing the persecution on those that were pagans or had any other beliefs than their own. So after these laws were passed, many started becoming "Christians" out of fear, pressure, or because it was the politically correct thing to do at the time.

One of the next successors in the papacy was Innocent I. Pope Innocent was the Pope after Siricius in the years 402-316. Pope Innocent I was recognized as the Pope during the final fall of Rome and actually helped in peace talks with the Visigoths under Alaric during the fall of Rome. While many view Pope Innocent as a great man for his want for peaceful resolve, he was also a man that wanted and needed control. Innocent I was one to not let others have a lot of religious freedoms. According to New World Encyclopedia "Never willing to tolerate what he and the Roman church considered as heresy, Innocent moved forcefully against Montanism in Africa, employing the power of the state as his agent. A delegation from a synod of Carthage (404) appealed to him for severer treatment of the Montanists in that territory. After the envoys came to Rome, Innocent obtained from Emperor Honorius a strong decree against the African Montanists, inducing some of them, out of fear of the state, to be reconciled with the Catholic Church." So in other words, it sounded as if Pope Innocent the I used any means necessary to keep control and to subdue beliefs other than his own.

Shortly after the time of Pope Innocent I, the Council of Chalcedon met. The Council of Chalcedon was held under the time of Pope Leo the Great, who held this title from 440-461 A.D. The Council of Chalcedon met in 451 A.D. and helped shaped the definition of faith. The definition was helped by the production of the Tome of Pope Leo. According to; "The Tome included the formula “two natures after the incarnation” and specified that Christ is consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father in the godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity." This council helped bring some peace to conflicting beliefs in Christianity.

So in the rise of the Christian church, we see people that have come from persecution and exile, to being in positions of power and authority. Many people used this opportunity to create good things, which some exist to this day. While others used this power and authority and lorded it over people with beliefs different from their own. We can learn a lot from the history of this time by modeling ourselves off the true starters of the church, and their bravery for standing up for what they believe in. But we can also learn to do this with modesty and humility.


Chalcedon, Council of. (1999). In Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. Retrieved from Last Accessed April 20, 2013.

Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Vol. 1. The Early Church to the Reformation. (New

York: Harper Collins.) 2010. 186.

Graves, Dan. Theodosius Issued an Edict. May 2007. Last accessed April

accessed April 19, 2013.

Fall of the Roman Empire. Your Travel Guide to Rome. Last accessed April 18, 2013.

Pope Innocent I. New World Encyclopedia. (2008) Retrieved April 20, 2013 from

Shahan, T. Pope St. Damasus I. The Catholic Encyclopedia. (New York: Robert Appleton Company). Retrieved April 18, 2013 from New Advent:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Where was God?"

I have seen numerous postings on Facebook asking this question in response to yesterday's tragedy in Boston: "Where was God?" I know that we can ask ourselves the same question when it comes to any tragedy; including Sep. 11 attacks, Atlanta bombings, to news of kids being shot in gun wars. I would like to help shed a little light on this subject. But first of all, I am going to turn this question back around to us? Where were we?

Where were we in 1948 when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer time was no longer allowed in schools? Where were we in 1962 when they ruled that prayer in school was unconstitutional? Where were we in 1980 when the Supreme Court ruled that 10 Commandments were no longer allowed in schools? Where are we now when schools no longer say the "Pledge of Allegiance" because of the phrase "One nation, under God."?

For many years Christians have stood aside and let this country subside from it's Christian foundation. So many can debate me and say that we were not founded as a Christian nation, but there is more proof on the side of Christian founding fathers than not. So where were we, as a people, in these times when Christian rights are taken out of our schools and out of our kids lives? We wonder why there are so many problems in schools? Remember, it's not the tool that is used to hurt people, it's the person behind the tool.

Now, going back to the original question of "Where was God?" While yesterday was a very tragic event, and it is sad that such a young boy lost his life because of a terrorist attack, it is small in comparison to amounts of lives being lost everyday. But know that in any instance of hurt, that God will use it for His plan. I know this stinks to say this. But I think of people with diseases, that have been able to help others with their pain. Or what about addicts that have overcome their addictions, only to help others overcome theirs? I bet during their addiction times there was a lot of people that this person may have hurt, but now he is serving the Lord.

It is not for us to say what God's will is. I look back to Job when he was asking why everything bad was happening to him. His friends are trying to say that he did something wrong, or his family did something wrong, but Job keep saying that he never did anything to deserve the punishment he was receiving. But in Job 38 God asks Job where he Job was when God was creating the world? Why do you ask what reason I have without knowledge? This means that God has His reasons for everything, and who are we to question God.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV)

God has a plan. God has something in His playing hand that we have not seen yet. The important thing to remember is that these acts were not committed by God, but by one that has been lost. So my plea to my fellow Christians is to go out and help the lost. More people that come to know the love and grace of God, the less of these problems we will have.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Canonization of the New Testament

There are questions that are often posed to me throughout my Christian life and those questions are: “Why are the books in the Bible there and who made the decision to put them there? Why are some books that have been found left out of the Bible?” These questions can often be difficult for new Christians who have not yet begun their research into this subject. Why are there books left out of the Bible? Why are some books included and others not included and who made the choice to leave those books out?

First is to explore the definition of the Biblical canon, or canonicity. According to, the word originated from “the Greek kanwn and most likely from the Hebrew qaneh and Akkadian, qanu. Literally, it means (a) a straight rod or bar; (b) a measuring rule as a ruler by masons and carpenters; then (c) a rule or standard for testing straightness.”1 Some may look at this and ask what this has to do with the Bible. The originators of the Bible canon used this description to align the books of the Bible. They needed a “measuring rule” to judge which book made it into the Bible and which books didn't fit what the Bible is trying to say. They had to have certain requirements to measure how each book added up and how they fit into the flow of the Bible. These requirements as given by Thiessen are “apostolicity, contents, universality, and inspiration”2. The Apostolicity of the book being considered made sure that the book was written by an apostle, and if it was not, was it written by someone that held a close relationship with an apostle. Another requirement was the contents of the book. If the contents of the book were not spiritual in nature, than the book didn't belong in the New Testament. The third requirement was the universality of the book, which means was the book universally accepted by those in the church. This is where a lot of debate comes in that we will get to. The fourth requirement for the canon for the New Testament is inspiration. This tests if the book was divinely given by God to the writer or if the writer wrote it for personal means and personal gain. This was another hot spot for debate in many books that are not published in the canon. So, there are these requirements to meet for a book to get into the New Testament, but who made these decisions for entry.
According to Thiessen, There was no early counciliar action that determined which books should be recognized and which not; the selection and acceptance of the books was a spontaneous process that went on throughout the Church.”3 So according to this, from an early point there was no conclusive point to which books belonged in the New Testament and which ones did not belong. The church started using the four points given above to decide which books to believe and which books they didn't believe. There were many heresies that started coming out to try and add in other books such as Gnosticism. Without going into too much detail, Gnosticism tried to add in books such as the Book of Thomas or The Book of the Lord. These books were not accepted by members of the early church as books that needed to be included, so they were never added in by New Testament and eventually deemed as heresy. Hooper makes an interesting point when he states “Indeed, how did we get our New Testament anyway, and just what attitude must a man manifest toward it who cannot accept it unquestioningly, merely because it has been accepted for many centuries by the great Christian body?4 The mystery of where the New Testament started remains a mystery. We can't begin to try and explain it except that it was divinely given by the Lord as the books that He wants us to read and those that He knows we need to hear. But there is a group of people who helped organize the New Testament into what it is today.

Again, the canon was never formally put together for some time. They people of the New Testament had the laws and the works of the Old Testament for some time before the New Testament was put together; which was the Septuagint. This book was used by the majority of the Jewish people throughout the first century. But the New Testament is different. There have been many books that have been excluded from today's canon that were in the canon throughout history and until recent ages have been changed. Some of these books include Shepherd of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, 1 and 2 Clement and others. Why these books are no longer in the canon is God's judgment. Personally I believe that the given word of God is what God wants us to hear and God wants us to hide in our hearts. These books until recent days have been included in the canon. The reason they may have been taken out is that they no longer applied to the current church, was outdated material, or evidence has been found on the inaccuracy of the book. Many books such as the Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Judas have not been included in the Bible because they were found to be written in later dates, and did not match the criteria listed above. Also, it has been said that a lot of writing that has come out has been found to be written by someone other than the supposed author of the book, so that someone can make money off of the Christian religion.

The last thing that I wanted to point out was the Council of Laodecia. This council of bishops and religious people of authority came together in about 364 A.D. This council was put together to, among other things, put together the structure of the canon. The books that they thought were divinely given by the Lord for the people to read were discussed and voted on by the attendees. In this time there were many books that were given that are not current in today's Bible, but there is one that we have now that was not originally in the canon, and that is the book of Revelation. This council has been debated among theologians as to the accuracy of their gatherings and how exactly affairs were handled.

The one thing that I always come back to when reading my Bible is what is building my relationship with the Lord. Is what I am reading helping my relationship with the Lord or is it hurting my relationship with the Lord? I am not concerned with motives of people from 2000 years ago, or what happened at certain council meetings. I have read the Book of Thomas and the Book of Judas, as well as many others, and found that they did not fulfill any further relationship with my Lord and Savior. It was not the plan for the Lord for me to read these books. I do know that my Bible today is my most treasured possession, because it is my map to God's mind, it is my love note from my Father. I learn how to be a better man, a better father and a better Christian from reading our current books of the Bible. Whether there are other books out there, probably, but what does the Lord have for me to read today? This is my main concern.

Ferris, George Hooper. The Formation of the New Testament. (Philadelphia: Griffith & Rowland Press). 1917. 17.

Keathley, J. Hampton. The Bible: The Holy Canon of Scripture. Copyright 1995-2013. Last accessed April 8, 2013.

Thiessen, Henry Clarence. The Canon of the New Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. (Grand Rapids, 1971).