The Meaning of Shavu’ot (Pentecost); News from Israel; and Your Calls

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Dr. Brown discusses the biblical and traditional meaning of the feast of weeks (Shavu’ot; Pentecost), catches up with the latest Israel news and takes your Jewish-related calls. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: As surely as God gave a biblical calendar to Israel, He will follow that calendar – ultimately with the return of the Messiah and the salvation of Israel.

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Tomorrow doesn’t come. Today is the day of salvation. What you’re going to do for God, do today while you have breath.

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Other Resources:

Dr. Brown Answers the Rabbis (Part 1)

An Outrage in the Church of Scotland, and the Meaning of Pentecost (Shavu’ot)

Dr. Brown Interviews Theologian R. T. Kendall on His New Book “Holy Fire,” then Dr. Brown Takes Your Calls

81 Comments
  1. Shelia,

    I didn’t hear the call from the individual that you were referencing, so I am replying to your thoughts.

    The interchangeability that you noted does point to the unified expression of the One G-d. Jesus is revealed as a man in heaven, but not of flesh and blood, but of Spirit – nevertheless still a man. Ezekiel saw him in declaring,

    “And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a MAN high above it… This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (Ezk 1:26-28).

    John also saw Jesus enthroned in heaven (Rev 1) and described him as the Son of Man, with the appearance of human-like features (e.g., eyes, hair, feet).

    Regarding the Spirit of Christ, and of the Father – each being used interchangeably – the authors understood their essence as being identical, thus the language harmoniously points to the One G-d as revealed in each person. Never did they indicate that Jesus was the person of the Father, as the distinction remained clear. Hence, the nature of their Spirit (mind, will, thoughts) are identical, thus affording the authors the liberty to interchange the usage of Spirit on the Godhead as an adjective on certain theological matters. Thus the Spirit is said to be from G-d, and at times coming from Christ – once again revealing G-d’s compound nature.

    Shalom

  2. Bo,

    >>Too bad your Bible translation says “vault.” Most do not.

    It’s not MY translation! Sheesh! It’s the NIV — one the most read versions. Many other versions use “dome”. A few use the archaic “fermament.”

    Once again, you have totally dodged the issue by nitpicking at an irrelevant detail.

    Here is my question again:

    How many of the 28% of people who believe “liberally in the bible. word for word” actually believe that there is a dome/vault/firmament holding the waters above us? Which, then, God opens to let the rain through?

    Not figuratively. _Literally_ — as in a real dome and real water, rather than atmosphere and then space.

    1%? Lower?

  3. Jon,

    >>Greg, Newton was criticized also for taking the bible literally. He has since then been proven right and Voltaire is the one that is left being wrong. You are thinking like Voltaire. ( which is not too bad, but still in error. )

    I don’t know that story. Newton explained gravity with the bible?

    I can’t imagine what passage he used.

    As for Voltaire — if I think like him, it’s pure coincidence. I tried to read him in Bible school but gave up.

    Here is my “thinking” on the bible versus science.

    The bible is not science.

    The “scientific worldview” is a human construct that developed many centuries after the canon was closed.

    Although, in the history of the human race, it is very new, it has profoundly shaped the minds of use in the West.

    So much so, that we can hardly look at anything, including the Bible, without the lens of science.

    So, when we Read Genesis 2 and it says “vault” or “dome” — our minds say, “Oh, that’s the sky.” And when it says, “water” our minds say, “Oh, that must mean space.”

    And most of us do this without any self-awareness because we are so throughly shaped by scientific thinking.

    But, when you let that go — it means that the writers of the bible actually thought a dome was holding back the water.

    So, does this make the bible a bunch of nonsense as people like Van claim?

    I SAY NO! The bible is true.

    It’s only nonsense if you presume that the bible has something to day about science.

    I deeply believe that the bible is inspired revelation of God, faith, community, morality, redemption, worship, etc. and is the foundational teacher of our faith.

    But not about science!

    (or about a thousand others things as well.)

    Is this the mistake Voltaire made?

  4. Van,

    I think you misread me.

    I said that you go to science to make claims about God — namely, that science disproves God’s existence.

    Like a typical fundamentalist, you have only have one way of coming at truth.

  5. “God, the Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist” by Victor Stenger, does indeed show how science has disproved the existence of God. Only science can tell us anything. Religion is a pack of lies believed by the uneducated masses.

  6. Van, Is Dr. Michael Brown one of these uneducated tikes believing a pack of lies??????

    I am in good company, join the family you old hermit crab.

  7. Michael Brown has admitted he knows nothing about science and anybody who has listened to him for a while knows this is true. Science is our only tool to learn about Nature, the real world. That should answer your question. However Dr. Brown knows nothing about the Bible, Judaism or where his religion actually came from either. The show is a wealth of misinformation which makes it very entertaining.

  8. Bo has been bickering with me about “vault” vs. “dome” vs “firmament” in Gen 1, so I got curious.

    Wikipedia has a nicely done article on it:

    ————————-

    The word “firmament” is used to translate raqia, or raqiya` ( רקיע), a word used in Biblical Hebrew. The connotation of firmness conveyed by the Vulgate’s firmamentum is consistent with that of stereoma, the Greek word used in the Septuagint, an earlier translation. The notion of solidity is advanced explicitly in several biblical passages.[5]

    The original word raqia is derived from the root raqa ( רקע), meaning “to beat or spread out”, e.g., the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal.[4][6] Raqa adopted the meaning “to make firm or solid” in Syriac, a major dialect of Aramaic (the vernacular of Jesus) and close cognate of Hebrew.[4]

    Conservatives and fundamentalists tend to favor translations that allow scripture to be harmonized with scientific knowledge, for example “expanse”

    Biblical use

    The word is used in the Genesis creation narrative:

    Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.[8]

    An extremely literalistic interpretation of the Bible and non-canonical related texts present a cosmology that is incompatible with modern scientific knowledge.[9] The firmament was a great solid dome which, according to the pseudepedigraphic 2nd or 3rd century book of 3 Baruch, might be pierced by tower and gimlet.[10] It had many windows, some of which opened and closed for the sun and moon to travel through[11] or to let water, which was held above, fall through as rain.[12] On top there were also warehouses of snow and hail.[13] Stars were small objects that were attached tenuously to its surface.[14]

    The Jewish Encyclopedia describes the firmament as follows:

    The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.[15]
    .
    – – – – – –

    Honestly — I’ve know a lot of self-professing biblical literalists but I don’t know any who believe this literally.

    I’m fine with that — but don’t call yourself a true literalist.

    In a way, I’m more of a literalist than they are. At least I accept what the bible says literally. Many people try to make it say something else, in conformance with science.

  9. Van,

    >Michael Brown has admitted he knows nothing about science and anybody who has listened to him for a while knows this is true.

    I agree. His grasp of science is almost laughable at times.

    >> Science is our only tool to learn about Nature, the real world

    Oops. And pop! goes your fundamentalism again!

    You only have on tool, a hammer, so everything looks like a nail to you!

  10. Van,

    >>“God, the Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist” by Victor Stenger, does indeed show how science has disproved the existence of God.

    I haven’t read the book. But, I’ve read others and I’ll say this again: When people confuse science with religion and religion with science, they get bad science AND bad religion.

    >> Only science can tell us anything.

    Wow. There is a religious tenet, if ever there was one.

  11. I love science. I am formally trained in science. I’ve spent my life keeping up with science.

    But, I understand its limits.

    The scientific method does best with isolable, repeatable phenomena.

    But it is almost completely useless for understanding highly-complex, once-time phenomena.

    For example, science is great for understanding the molecular structure of paint.

    But it hardly helps us at all for understanding Impressionism.

    Does this mean Impressionism is not “real” since science has almost nothing to say about Impressionism?

    Of course not.

    But it does make me wonder if Van understands science.

  12. There was a philosophical school called the logical positivists (scientism) that claimed that the scientific method is the only method by which truth may be known (Comp, Mill and Spencer who are the main proponents of positivists). Sounds a bit like Van’s claims. However it was found to be SELF-DEFEATING, for the claim that reality can only be known by the scientific method, cannot itself be shown to be true by the scientific method. It is actually a metaphysical statement of faith.

    If memory serves William James (American philosopher) had some interesting things to say about limiting knowledge only to that which can be measured by science.

  13. Van-

    I’m not sure why you haven’t accepted Dr. Brown’s request that you call him. Seems like a perfect opportunity for you to educate the masses as opposed to just the few hear who listen to your rants. Or should your next pseudonym be “Fearful”.

  14. S.Johnson,

    I think I learned about that philosophy somewhere.

    But, I think you hit it on the head — to claim that science is the only way to know truth is actually a faith proposition.

    I think the most anyone can credibly claim about science is that it is currently the best way to understand the material world.

    (I say “currently” because who can predict what future ways people might come up with?)

    Now, if you believe that the physical world is the only “real” world, then science is the only game in town.

    But, that’s a faith statement.

    And, even many atheists don’t believe that.

    Love, for example, exists in the realm of human construct yet is very real to most atheists. And pretty hard to prove scientifically!

  15. Van, Will you take Pascal’s wager?

    Pascal’s Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy which was devised by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or does not exist. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming the infinite gain or loss associated with belief in God or with unbelief, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.)

  16. jon,

    If a Muslim challenged you with Pascal’s wager about belief in Allah, would you take it?

    That’s the problem with Pascal’s wager. It isn’t specific enough about which understanding of God to believe in.

  17. Pascal would never ever make such a ridiculous wager! He also would have thought your arguments of homosexual marriage to be insane. I bet my life that all-hhh is in no way —.

    Are you going to wager on your beliefs????? I am.

  18. Those who don’t come to the truth but pretend as though they would come to it, always have crooked ways. It takes coming to the cross to straighten things out.

    It seems the cross comes before the first fruit offering to God, and that is by God’s design.

  19. Pascal’s wager is one of the most exquisite examples of human stupidity known to man, as any logician or philosophy professor would gladly demonstrate for you. However since there doesn’t seem any of them present I’ll take the time to do it for you. I shouldn’t even have to point out that a person cannot sincerely believe something just to be on the safe side and so the absurdity of Pascal’s wager is in the fact that it is impossible to put into practice. One should just believe in God just in case God really does exist? How do you then figure out what religion is the correct religion? Do you become a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu? If you choose Christianity you run just as much of a chance of winding up in the Muslim hell as a Muslim does of winding up in the Christian hell. This is a very crucial point about any form of Pascal’s wager because it is these theological assumptions that you are wagering on. You see Pascal’s wager is logically invalid if you must already assume its conclusion, which is that biblical Christianity is true. We can’t grant the assumptions that Christians want. But even if we grant this argument everything it asks the argument still fails. The point of the wager is whose assumptions are the correct ones. If you choose Christianity, what denomination do you pick? If you become a Methodist or Baptist how do you deal with the possibility that Catholicism may be the one true religion? To meet the requirements of Pascal’s wager, one would have to simultaneously become a believer in all religions in the world but you can’t do that because many religions forbid beliefs in others. The argument that if God doesn’t exist the believer has lost nothing is also false. If there is no God the believers have lost intellectual integrity, self-esteem and a rewarding and fulfilling life, just about everything that makes life worth living. Pascal’s wager is not a safe bet because it costs a person one’s life and happiness. Thanks, but I’ll keep those things. Finally this wager doesn’t offer a shred of evidence that God exists, it only argues for no good reason that one should believe in God. Pascal’s argument is so easy to see through it’s a wonder anyone can still be duped by it. I’m sorry that you were.

  20. If everyone in the world could all of a sudden recognize bad arguments and logical fallacies religion would disappear in a twinkling of an eye. Poof.

  21. It’s often been said that if we as Christians turned out to be wrong about the Bible being the word of God, we would have had the best time going to heaven anyway, even if it happened to not exist.

    Sure there is trouble along the way, but the joy far exceeds it. And isn’t the joy we experience a part of our evidence of things not yet seen?

  22. jon,

    >>Are you going to wager on your beliefs????? I am.

    I am going to wager on the grace of God through Jesus Christ — not the perfection of my beliefs.

    I have no doubt that some of my beliefs are wrong. The most I can do is try to live in a way models and honors Jesus Christ.

    Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s the highest commandment. My neighbor happens to be gay.

    If Pascal thought that insane, I’m going with Jesus instead.

  23. Van,

    I agree with your assessment of the flaws in Pascal’s wager but you missed an opportunity to accuse Christianity of being a fairy tale.

    Wouldn’t Pascal’s wager work equally well with believing in Santa Clause?

    Afterall, what’s the harm in it? One lives a nicer life and might get presents for it! The worst that happens is one still lives a less naughty life but doesn’t get presents.

    As for your second post — just more atheist supremacy.

    Despite his flawed wager, Pascal could out-think you with half his brain tied behind back.

    And me, too!

    The man was brilliant. Didn’t Albert Einstein say that Blaise Pascal was the smartest man in the last 1000 years? (Or is that just urban myth?)

    In any regard, I think Pascal makes the list of the the few humans who had a 200+ IQ.

    And he was a man of faith — one in a million pieces of evidence against your atheist supremacy.

  24. “Despite his flawed wager, Pascal could out-think you with half his brain tied behind back.”

    > I have destroyed every argument that has been presented to me on this blog including yours. Also it can be demonstrated that atheism is superior to theism.

  25. And by the way, I proved I can out think Pascal. I destroyed his argument and made him look foolish for making it. What more do you want?

  26. Van,

    You have destroyed nothing. In fact, you make comments to that effect without ever backing it up with a plausible argument of any kind. You do nothing but make broad generalizations and call it done.

    Bring your facts right now and present them to us if you have any. Engage in a debate with us and perhaps we’d honor the knowledge you think you possess.

  27. We are in great company!! If Van thinks that he is out thinking Pascal that is the most hysterical thing that anyone has ever heard.
    Your arrogance is most unbecoming. You never did attempt even a small comment on Dostoyevsky. Can you please try to trash him too?

  28. Brian,

    #51 above. I didn’t mean to imply that I believe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are interchangeable with each other, just that they are all God. I’m sure I didn’t qualify it very well. What does seem to be expressed, though, is that they all three persons are possessive of the Spirit. Now the strange part to me is that 2 of them “are” Spirit, but then we have the Spirit of Christ as well. With Him being God too, I’m wondering of what essence is His Spirit? Are the authors of the NT wanting to show that He has a spirit as we do or that His Spirit is One with the Father’s Spirit who is One with the Holy Spirit? Do you see? There’s a whole lot of Holy Spirits going around! 🙂

    I haven’t studied the trinity but I understand it to be true judging from Scripture.

  29. Van,

    >>I have destroyed every argument that has been presented to me on this blog including yours. Also it can be demonstrated that atheism is superior to theism.

    Of course, as a supremacist, you think that.

    There is no arguing with self-delusion but I wish you well.

  30. Van said,

    >> I proved I can out think Pascal.

    I’ll let historians be the judge of that.

    Have you made any “smartest people in history” lists yet?

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