“Is Genesis History?”


It’s Friday night and many from our church met in the auditorium for yet another FREE MOVIE NIGHT!  Tonight we going to get to see the much awaited viewing of the new compelling and perhaps controversial documentary movie Is Genesis History?.

The film’s title is  a double entendre, or play on words.  In my initial reading of the title, I inferred that the subject matter would question the significance and foundation of Christianity in today’s world.  When I viewed a few trailers from the film, I decided it was more about the relevance and credibility of the history as presented in the bible’s Book of Genesis.  It is both . . .

Dr. Del Tackett

Dr. Del Tackett

In a series of interviews with over a dozen scientists and scholars (archaeologist, astronomer, atmospheric physicist, biologist, geologist, herbraist, microbiologist, marine biologist, computer scientist, mechanical engineer, paleontologist, pastor, philosopher of science, taphonomist, and theologian), Dr. Del Tackett, creator of “The Truth Project, serves as a guide to help viewers understand how the world intersects with the bible’s Book of Genesis by exploring two competing views about how earth and its inhabitants came into being.

The interviews probe over 30 fairly complex topics to help us better understand each of them.  Among the topics:  the big bang, evolution, fossil records, paradigms, scientific dating methods, and major biblical historical events.

About the Bible’s Book of Genesis

The Book of Genesis answers the question, “Where did all this come from?” It is the first book of the bible and the first of Moses’ five books that make up his Pentateuch. Genesis is the story of how Israel began as a nation, described through a series of beginnings—starting with the creation of the universe and following a series of genealogies within of one family.

Some Background

The film explores two basic views about the history of the earth, with the fundamental difference being about the explanations of historical time vs. conventional time through scientific dating methods.

  1. In the historical book of Genesis, we are taught that the earth and universe are less than 10,000 years old and events recorded occurred in a literal way.
  2. In the conventional teachings about the earth and its times, we have been taught that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe 13.7 billion years.

My Conclusions

This film’s coverage on the subject was very comprehensive and extremely well organized.  It helped me better grasp both complex biblical and scientific topics. 

I very much favor the film’s website and its accompanying resources (that include a church and group/family discussion guide) for those who want to delve deeper into the topics and/or just reflect back on them.

In fact, our area’s churches are organizing discussion groups for those who want to learn more or just express their views about the film and its content, giving us yet another opportunity to get to know others within biblical community settings.

Thank you Jeremy Robinson for coordinating this event and  Chesapeake Church for giving us the privilege to learn more about these competing perspectives of who we are and how we got here. Genesis encourages me to continue trusting my faith in God and religion over the scientific world’s perspective that excludes God from its thinking. It reinforced for me the importance of reading, knowing, and better understanding those historical biblical writings.  The big flood or some other literally earth-shattering event may likely come again during my lifetime.  Until then, I will strive to understand the natural world as the bible teaches about it as best I can.

Witnesses to Great Commotions Over Religion, Politics, and Money


politics-religion-t-shirtYes, this post may be a game changer–where I dare to speak of religion, politics, and money–Growing up it was drilled into me to never talk about these topics in public and open conversation. But why?  Was this always an American position, or when did this begin?

From the history of my 15th century> ancestors primarily from England, France, Scotland and Wales, I learned that when people upheld their beliefs in conversation or practice, they were persecuted, imprisoned, condemned to death and mutilated, banished, or forced to flee their lands and families.

Persecution of Huguenots by Catholics

huguenots driven out of france

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

The slaughter of Huguenots (French Protestants) by Catholics at Sens, Burgundy in 1562 occurred at the beginning of more than thirty years of religious strife between French Protestants and Catholics. These wars produced numerous atrocities. The worst was the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, August 24, 1572. Thousands of Huguenots were butchered by Roman Catholic mobs. Although an accommodation between the two sides was sealed in 1598 by the Edict of Nantes, religious privileges of Huguenots eroded during the seventeenth century and were extinguished in 1685 by the revocation of the Edict. As many as 400,000 French Protestants emigrated to various parts of the world, including the British North American colonies.

 “Souled Out” – European Persecution

America has long been a land where people have reserved the right to say, “I disagree.” Many early settlers left England in the first place because they disagreed with English practice. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were two brave puritan souls who reminded everyone at their own great peril of that most sacred right.The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as “enforced uniformity of religion,” meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.  It was this religious conviction and persecution that drove Protestants and Catholics alike from Europe to the British North American.  Nonconformists were shown no mercy and many were executed as heretics.

In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists. Although England renounced religious persecution in 1689, it persisted on the European continent. Religious persecution, as observers in every century have commented, was often bloody and implacable and is remembered and resented for generations.

Religion and the American Civil War

Three of our nation’s leading Protestant denominations—Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists—were all divided over slavery or related issues. These church divisions fractured political parties, and ultimately helped to divide the nation.

Christians who opposed the war on religious grounds were often persecuted. The Brethren eventually were allowed to be exempted from military service if they paid $500, but most suffered for their stance. For example, John Kline, moderator of the Brethren Annual Meeting, became distrusted because he provided medical aid to soldiers from both armies. Once he was jailed for two weeks, without cause, and in June 1864 he was ambushed and murdered.

Many preachers, especially in the North, felt that through the war the final glorious reign of God would begin. Both sides thought the war would be over in three months. Instead, it lasted four years, until 364,511 Union and approximately 260,000 Confederate soldiers lay dead from bullets and disease. More Americans died in the Civil War than died in all other American wars combined.

Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, who stood up for and refused to compromise their passionately held religious convictions.

Matthew Brady's picture of a sermon given to the "Fighting 69th" Infantry in 1861.

Matthew Brady’s 1861 picture of a sermon given to the “Fighting 69th” Infantry of the New York State Militia.

The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established “as plantations of religion.” Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives–“to catch fish” as one New Englander put it–but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create “a city on a hill” or a “holy experiment,” whose success would prove that God’s plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves “militant Protestants” and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church.  Many of my ancestors, in fact, were quaker, baptist, and methodist ministers.

May 25 – September 17,1787:  The Philadelphia Convention

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

After nearly four months in session, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of 41 delegates present at the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (“The Philadelphia Convention”). Supporters of the document waged a hard-won battle to win ratification by the necessary nine out of 13 U.S. states.  The Constitution and other laws attempted to draw lines separating certain official government functions from the nation’s religious life. But these same laws have largely steered clear of regulating religion in the political sphere. And indeed, religion has long been entangled in the nation’s politics and its political campaigns.

The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and “Political Correctness”

Not much has changed over the past 2 to 3 centuries. Except that we Americans have been hammered with new terms to maintain our “political correctness.”  Who determines what is politically correct, anyway?  Is it the media? Leftists? Rightists? Academics? The public, in general? Somewhere between political correctness and bald-faced bigotry is our Constitution’s First Amendment that protects our rights to believe and say whatever we want.  political-correctness-and-merry-christmas
And yes, I acknowledge that this same first amendment also protects the rights of those who don’t agree with us so they can say whatever they want!  I’m starting to see that we as a human race still haven’t learned how to appropriately communicate with each other, to openly express and discuss our opinions, and to mitigate any discourse that comes as a result of our rights to this freedom of speech–this definitely is not to say that I am a proponent for the many derogatory and defaming words that some people choose to pummel at others because there are differences in race, sexual orientation, religion, politick, or other convictions.
Skipping Ahead to 2016 and the Presidential Election
is-politics-nothing-other-than-the-art-of-deliberately-lying-voltaire
October 15-18 2016: The Economist/YouGov.com conducted a web-based poll of 1,300 Internet Opt-in general population participants to get a handle on political views and the role of religion in their lives.   Its random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, and region) was selected from the 2014 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2014 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement.  The survey has an error margin of +/- 3.9%. Below is a snip it of its raw top line results for both politics and religion, but let me bottom line just a few sentiments collected as a result of this poll:
  • 2/3’s of respondents reported that religion was somewhat to very important in their lives
  • 3 out of 5 respondents said they prayed outside of religious services from several times a day to at least once a week
  • 55 percent of respondents reported their religion as either protestant (37 percent) or catholic (18 percent)
  • Just under one-third of respondents reported themselves as born-again Christians
  • Just under 2/3’s said this country today is: “off on the wrong track”
  • 80 percent said they would vote for either Clinton (42 percent) or Trump (38 percent)
  • 83 percent when asked the voting question a little differently, “whether they had a good idea of who they would vote for;” said:  “I have no idea”
1. Would you say things in this country today are?
Generally headed in the right direction  28%
Off on the wrong track                           63%
Not sure                                                   9%
2. Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?
Hillary Clinton:
20%  Very favorable
20%  Somewhat favorable
12%  Somewhat unfavorable
45%  Very unfavorable
3%  Don’t know
Donald Trump: 15% 19% 10% 51% 4%
15%  Very favorable
19%  Somewhat favorable
10%  Somewhat unfavorable
51%  Very unfavorable
4%  Don’t know
3. Do you have a good idea of which candidate you’ll vote for in the presidential election in November, or are you still making up your mind? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted
I have already voted                             5%
I have a good idea of who I’ll vote for 83%
I’m still making up my mind                  9%
Not sure                                                3%
4. Who will you vote for in the election for President in November? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted – excludes registered voters who will definitely not vote
Hillary Clinton (Democrat)                  42%
Donald Trump (Republican)               38%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian)                  6%
Jill Stein (Green)                                  1%
Other                                                    3%
Not sure                                                8%
Probably won’t vote                              2%
  1. How important is religion in your life?

Very important                               37%
Somewhat important                     29%
Not too important                          16%
Not at all important                        17%

 144. Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services?

More than once a week                10%
Once a week                                15%
Once or twice a month                 10%
A few times a year                        14%
Seldom                                          23%
Never                                             26%
Don’t know                                       2%

145.  Would you describe yourself as a “born-again” or evangelical Christian, or not?

Yes                                                    31%
No                                                     69%

 146.  People practice their religion in different ways. Outside of attending religious services, how often do you pray?

Several times a day                         29%
Once a day                                      16%
A few times a week                         13%
Once a week                                     3%
A few times a month                         6%
Seldom                                            15%
Never                                               16%
Don’t know                                         2%

147.  What is your present religion, if any?

Protestant                                         37%
Roman Catholic                               18%
Mormon                                              2%
Eastern or Greek Orthodox                1%
Jewish                                                2%
Muslim                                                2%
Buddhist                                             1%
Hindu                                                  0%
Atheist                                                4%
Agnostic                                             5%
Nothing in particular                         21%
Something else                                  5%

Abraham Lincoln’s Perspective

Whether choosing to talk politics, who’s side you’re on, who you voted for and why, or comparing the laws of man to God’s laws, Abraham Lincoln probably said it best when he said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Sources:

Christianity and the Civil War
History.com’s This Day In History:  September 17, 1787
Library of Congress:  Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Pew Research Fact Tank:  Key Findings About Faith and Politics in the 2016 Presidential Campaign
The Economist/YouGov Poll:  October 2016
The Journal of Southern Religion: The Politics of Faith During the Civil War
USHistory.org:  Dissent in Massachusetts Bay

 

 

Witches and Witchcraft Revisited–Another Brick Wall Downed!


Mary Bliss Parsons - 9th great auntJust a short 3-1/2 years ago (November 15, 2012) I wrote my first post Hello World! to this blog site.  In it, I alleged my family may have an ancestor who was accused of being a witch in Massachusetts.  (Note that most women, and men, who were accused of witchcraft in the 15th-19th Centuries were feared for their nonconformist ways more than anything else.)  If you go to this post’s link, you will also find at the bottom of it, links to three more posts that include mentions of witches and witchcraft in them over the next eight-month period.  Despite all my research and readings I didn’t find specific evidence of any alleged witches among my ancestors until today–exactly 341 years after a Boston jury reached its verdict on charges that Mary Bliss Parsons, my 9th maternal great aunt, was accused of being a witch.  Here’s the brief article I discovered:

Jury Finds Mary Bliss Parsons Not Guilty of Witchcraft: May 13, 1675
Published by massmoments.org May 13, 2016

Mary Bliss Parsons and childOn this day in 1675, a Boston jury reached a verdict in the case of Mary Bliss Parsons of Northampton: they found her not guilty of witchcraft. In seventeenth-century New England, virtually everyone believed in witches. Hundreds of individuals faced charges of practicing witchcraft. They were women, or sometimes men, who had “signed the Devil’s Book” and were working on his behalf. Their wickedness was blamed for calamities ranging from ailing animals to the death of infant children. While most of the accused never went to trial or were, like Mary Parsons, acquitted, not everyone was so lucky. Six Massachusetts women were hanged as witches in the years before the infamous Salem witch trials, which claimed 24 innocent lives.

I referred to the following free e-book on Google Play to learn further facts about the allegations of witchcraft against Mary Bliss Parsons. Page 15 is the digital page number where her story begins:

Parsons family: descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons, Springfield, 1636–Northampton, 1655, Volume 1 

Frank Allaben Genealogical Company, 1912
The Strong Witch SocietyD. H. Parsons (9th great grandson of Mary Bliss Parsons), on January 19, 2011, authored a much different perspective of Mrs. Parsons’ involvement in Witchcraft and Witch Societies in his 4-star rated book:  The Strong Witch Society: The Diary of Mary Bliss Parsons.  The following is Amazon’s summary about it:
In 1675, Mary Bliss Parsons, the author’s great grandmother nine times removed, was tried for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. She was acquitted only because her husband, Joseph, was able to purchase her freedom. Such is the known history of Mary Bliss Parsons. What is not so well known is that Mary was a member of a small but powerful group of witches, The Strong Witch Society. After her death in 1712, it became Mary’s purpose to somehow “awaken” in the mind and spirit of one of her future descendants in order to reinstitute The Strong Witch Society. The author is that grandchild. What unfolds on the pages of this book is a rollercoaster of supernatural events and ‘lessons’ designed with the express purpose of calling together the remaining Strong Witches in order to divert an impending world disaster. This book is about far more than just Witches. It introduces and covers many other subjects including Alien Contact, Inter-Dimensional Travel, the Natural Disasters our world is facing today, political crises, and etc. It offers Simple solutions on how to deal with all of those problems before it is too late. It gives information on how you the reader can actually help to solve the problems without much effort at all. But time is running short. And always remember that this book is true, not fiction, not conjecture, not theory.
This jury remains out for me, and many references have surfaced since my initial research. So, I guess I have a lot more reading to do before I draw my conclusions about my 9th great aunt, Mrs. Mary Bliss Parsons.

Missionary on Horseback–Key Builder of a Nation


In the past, many of my blog posts have focused on my ancient British relatives and their descendents from the Boling/Bolling/Bowling, Chambers, and Taylor branches on my paternal side, to the Lathrop/Lowthropp and Ford families on my maternal side. Geographically,  all of these families resided primarily on the east coast in the earliest colonies–from North Carolina to Virginia up to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts; periods discussed in these posts ranged from the earliest settlers in America until present days–ancestors occupations included religious leaders, educators, statesmen, plantation owners and tobacco innovators and farmers.

Bishop Francis Asbury – Pioneer of Methodism

Today’s post looks at yet another renowned religious leader:  Francis Asbury (August 20, 1745, Hampstead Bridge, Staffordshire, England – March 31, 1816, Spotsylvania, Virginia), originally from the Parish of Handsworth, Staffordshire, England.  Francis Asbury, “Frank” as his parents Joseph Asbury (skilled farmer and gardener), and Elizabeth “Eliza” Rogers called him as a young boy, was North America’s first Methodist bishop.  The_Ordination_of_Bishop_Asbury-1784The ordination of Bishop Francis Asbury by Bishop Thomas Coke took place at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore, Maryland in the winter of 1784–establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States.  There is some confusion as to my precise relationship to him, but it is possible that I may be a first cousin, seven times removed.

WHY FRANCIS ASBURY NEVER MARRIED

Francis Asbury was a circuit rider (preacher on horseback) turned superintendent of American Methodism of the late 18th and early 19th century.  He was appointed to the office of superintendent by John Wesley himself.  He endured great things for the Lord and won many souls to Christ.  Here is his account, from his journal, of why he never married:

 

 

 

“If I should die in celibacy, which I think quite probable, I give the following reasons for what can scarcely be called my choice: I was called in my fourteenth year.  I began my public exercises between sixteen and seventeen; at twenty-one I traveled [i.e., became a circuit riding preacher]; at twenty-six I came to America: thus far I had reasons enough for a single life.  It had been my intention of returning to Europe at thirty years of age, but the war continued, and it was ten years before we had a settled, lasting peace.  This was not time to marry or be given in marriage.  At forty-nine I was ordained superintendent bishop in America.  Among the duties imposed upon me by my office was that of traveling extensively, and I could hardly expect to find a woman with grace enough to enable her to live but one week out of fifty-two with her husband.  Besides, what right has any man to take advantage of the affections of a woman, make her his wife, and by a voluntary absence subvert the whole order and economy of the marriage state, by separating those whom neither God, nature, nor the requirements of civil society permit to be put asunder?  It is neither just nor generous.  I may add to this, that I had little money, and with this little administered to the necessities of a beloved mother until I was fifty-seven.  If I have done wrong, I hope God and the sex will forgive me.  It is my duty now to bestow the pittance I may have to spare upon the widows and fatherless girls, and poor married men.” (January 27, 1804)

 

Startling Statistics

When Asbury first came to the American colonies as a 26 year old Methodist missionary in 1771, there were 600 Methodist believers on the new continent.  Fewer than 1 in 800 people was a Methodist.  When he died in 1816, there were over 200,000 Methodists (1 of every 36 Americans), and Asbury had ordained more than 2,000 Methodist preachers, nearly all of those were preaching at the time.  Despite poor health, he had ridden over 130,000 miles and preached for 45 years (an average of eight miles per day), probably delivering more than 10,000 sermons–about one sermon every three days!

 

More than a century after Asbury’s death, President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933; served 1923–29) recognized Asbury as one of the key builders of the nation.

“I feel my spirit bound to the New World, and my heart bound to the people, though unknown.”