Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Messiahmas

From the prophet Isaiah, chapter 9:

 But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shined.
Thou hast multiplied the nation,
    thou hast increased its joy;
they rejoice before thee
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    thou hast broken as on the day of Mid′ian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
    and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
    to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"C'mon everybody! Grab your monkey!"

It might be heretical, but sometimes this is how I think salvation will work.  Jesus grabs hold of those who already believe in him, and then they grab hold of people they know who don't believe in him, but that they think should be saved, anyway.  There are a couple of verses in the Bible that suggest I might not be wrong.  If I'm right, then I'm grabbing hold of as many people that I know that I can.

Iron Man 3 - Plane Rescue Scene:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is the Shroud of Turin Real?


Is the Shroud real? Probably.

The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus. The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless. Even the famous Atheist Richard Dawkins admits it is controversial. Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. So do many other scientists and archeologists. This is because there are significant scientific and non-religious reasons to doubt the validity of the tests. Chemical analysis, all nicely peer-reviewed in scientific journals and subsequently confirmed by numerous chemists, shows that samples tested are chemically unlike the whole cloth. It was probably a mixture of older threads and newer threads woven into the cloth as part of a medieval repair. Recent robust statistical studies add weight to this theory. Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature when the carbon dating results were published, recently wrote: “It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever.” If we wish to be scientific we must admit we do not know how old the cloth is. But if the newer thread is about half of what was tested – and some evidence suggests that – it is possible that the cloth is from the time of Christ.

No one has a good idea how front and back images of a crucified man came to be on the cloth. Yes, it is possible to create images that look similar. But no one has created images that match the chemistry, peculiar superficiality and profoundly mysterious three-dimensional information content of the images on the Shroud. Again, this is all published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion. Years ago, as a skeptic of the Shroud, I came to realize that while I might believe it was a fake, I could not know so from the facts. Now, as someone who believes it is the real burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, I similarly realize that a leap of faith over unanswered questions is essential.

My name is Dan Porter. Please email me at

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Prove me wrong.

Theology professor Randal Rauser posted a speech by Senator Elizabeth Warren demanding that we support legislation to break up big banks such as Citigroup, so that they are never "too big to fail."  This is a bipartisan issue.  Both you Republicans and you Democrats should support it.  I commented at Randal's blog that since I am a 9/11 Truther, I have learned that Satan is in control of all power in this world and that things won't change.  He quoted Bruce Hornsby's song to refute me.  So who is right?  I wrote the following email to my congressman and two senators:

"I just watched a youtube video that a theology profressor posted to his blog here: It is a speech of Senator Elizabeth Warren explaining the immense influence big banks such as Citigroup are having on our government in stopping legislation that would prohibit bailing them out in cases where they engage in extremely risky ventures such as derivatives. Please support legislation that will bust up huge banks such as Citigroup, so that they are never "too big to fail." Sincerely yours, ..."

I say that most of you won't write your representatives demanding the bust up of big banks.  I also say that even if we all wrote our representatives, they still wouldn't bust up big banks.  So prove me wrong.  

Jesus in Control of His Life

The last time I talked about Jesus' last week in Jerusalem, I left the Temple authorities in an awful pickle. By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus had seemingly claimed to be the king referred to by the prophet Zechariah (9:9), 
" Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
on a colt the foal of an ass."
Or so the crowd of Galilean Jews traveling with him understood it. The Roman authorities didn't seem to understand the implications of their rejoicing, or didn't take it seriously (and who would take a man riding a donkey seriously?). But the Temple authorities were alarmed. And they would have arrested Jesus, except he was constantly surrounded by the Galilean Jews, until he retired for the evening to Bethany, too far for their reach. 
Their only hope was to somehow catch him alone. But how? Unless he was a complete fool, Jesus understood their predicament. Which is why we should understand the significance of his decision to have his last supper in Jerusalem, with only his closest disciples around, and then to wait in a secluded garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Clearly, Jesus was knowingly giving his enemies the opportunity that they had wanted to catch him alone.
The conclusion seems obvious: Jesus is the one who has been in control of the events surrounding his life for this last week. No one has caught him by surprise. He knew the danger of being alone, and made himself available, and then waited for the inevitable to happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Prepare for the End Times.

In Matthew 24 Jesus talks about the End Times. Then, near the very end of the chapter, he gives a short parable: 
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."
That sounds like clear enough teaching. God puts people in our lives that we are responsible for. If we take good care of those people, God will reward us. If we don't take care of them, but instead abuse them, we will be punished. So it sounds like Jesus is telling us that the way to prepare for the End Times is to take care of the people that we are responsible for. But who are those people? And how do we take care of them?