The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken

Ripken, Nik. The insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Publishing Group, 2013, Kindle.
When Nik Ripken is asked if he believes persecution is coming to America, he says, "Why would Satan want to wake us up when he as already shut us up?" (310).  It's good logic considering the deep faith and explosive Church growth Ripken has experienced in places of great persecution.  Ripken witnessed the entire community of Christians wiped out in Somalia.  When he arrived during their civil war, there were about 150 believers.  Four remained when he left.  And not long afterwards, they were hunted down too.  In the mist of this great loss, Ripkin's son died.  It was too much for him to take.  Ripkin seemed, but his own confession, to question God.

In his questioning, Ripken set out to find ways to help grow the church in places of great persecution.  He started visiting persecuted countries to interview Christians.  What he found fills the pages of his book, The Insanity of God.

The Insanity of God is easy to describe on one hand, and nearly impossible to explain on the other.  I'll let this video try to get at the basics of the book:



What becomes difficult to explain are the feelings generated deep within the soul of the persecuted believer. It's not guilt, but something else.  Gratitude maybe.  Or instead, it might be a greater understanding of persecution as well as why American Christians seem so much more apathetic, so much less rich, vibrant, energized.

Reading The Insanity of God it might be easy to think the stories are inflated, but I have no reason, experience, or expertise to suggest Ripkin may have stretched the truth.  It almost would matter anyway because one can easily image the same attitudes and responses of the persecuted.   At one point Stoyan, a friend of Ripkins' and interviewee encouraged, "Don't you ever give up in freedom wen we would never give up in persecution" (311).  How can anybody argue his point?

Nik Ripken has a ministry website at nikripken.com that's full of many more resources and stories.  It's worth your time to check it out.  I also encourage you read The Insanity of God.

Purchase this book on Amazon here.

*Amazon purchases from this website generate funds to help support this website. 

KSL's "Faith on the Frontlines"



On April 5th, 2015, Easter, the Salt Lake NBC affiliate, KSL ran a documentary about soldiers and faith.  This was one of a handful of documentaries to run during the halftime show between their broadcast of two LDS General Conference sessions.  Three of the interviewees are LDS and then there is me -- an evangelical Christian pastor.

With our permission, they brought cameras into our home and church.  They filmed our prayer time and school.  They interviewed me and asked me questions about the war, my family, the pastorate, and my faith.

Obviously there is a risk when you do these things.  Editing can make the program go any number of ways.  I could have ended up looking either LDS or crazy.  But I don't feel that's what KSL did.  Keri, Eric, Doug and the crew did a wonderful job getting at their topic; and although KSL is an LDS owned company, they were more than fair.  I wish I would have had more pictures to supply of the 3d Armored Cavalry and might have been able to give the Brave Rifles a bit more of a shout out but I just didn't take many photos in that first year of the war.

I really enjoyed KSL's work and I hope you enjoy the documentary.  (It's 22 and a half minutes long, but if you'd like to jump the the bulk of the stuff featuring me, my family, and Redeeming Life Church, you can click this link.)

It's a Matter of the Heart

Jonathan Edwards argues for a faith that comes from our affections because our affections ultimately drive us. “The nature of human beings,” writes Edwards, “is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection: love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc” (1).  True religion, according to Edwards, is one in which we are driven, compelled even, to seek after God with deep affection. Our faith simply cannot be motivated from a cognitive understanding of God. Edwards argues, “A person who has knowledge of doctrine and theology only—without religious affection—has never engaged in true religion. Nothing is more apparent than this: our religion takes root within us only as deep as our affections attract it” (2).

Sadly, many who call themselves Christian have affections for something or someone other than God. They have an awareness of God’s Word but it has not penetrated the dark places within the soul. Something else still masters over them. “There are thousands,” Edwards says, “who hear the Word of God, who hear great and exceedingly important truths about themselves and their lives, and yet all they hear has no effect upon them, makes no change in the way they live” (3).  Edwards feels that no person will ever be changed by the Word of God unless he or she is affected because God has changed the heart, or more specifically, the affections of one’s heart.

_________
1. 
Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected readings for individuals and Groups (New York: NY, HarperCollins, 2005), 20. 
2. Ibid., 21.
3. Ibid.


* This post comes from a paragraph of a paper written for the partial fulfillment of a DMin at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  It has been redacted and modified for this website.

John of the Cross: The Dark Night of the Soul

John of the Cross understood something of spiritual growth. “At a certain point in the spiritual journey,” writes John, “God will draw a person from the beginning stage to a more advanced stage. At this stage the person will begin to engage in religious exercises and grow deeper in the spiritual life” (1). The means, according to John, is the ‘dark night of the soul.’ This dark night is that time when, “those persons lose all the pleasure in that they once experienced in their devotional life” (2).

Seeing God as a mother caring for her little one, John compares the new believer to the babe suckling and feasting on its mother’s milk. “But there will come a time,” he writes, “when God will bid them to grow deeper” (3). As difficult as it may be, the dark night is the means of growth.

The Christian will experience a dry season in his or her devotion with God. Dry may even be an understatement for those who completely seem to lose any closeness with God. God withdraws himself for a season. However, the risk of living a life free of the dark night is grave. John identifies seven spiritual sins that manifest themselves in the devotion of the believer because of immaturity and a lack of the dark night season. Pride, greed, luxury, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth in devotion creep in and lead to death. A survey across Christendom confirms the very presence of these seven sins and may actually cause the Christian to welcome the dark night of the soul, the Christian who deeply desires to grow closer to Christ and mature in his or her journey. “No soul will grow deep in the spiritual life,” argues John, “unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night” (4).


__________
1.  Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected readings for individuals and Groups (New York: NY, HarperCollins, 2005), 33.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4.  Ibid., 37.


* This post comes from a paragraph of a paper written for the partial fulfillment of a DMin at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  It has been redacted and modified for this website.
** Photo used in this post is in the public domain. 

The Cost of Nondiscipleship

There is a grave problem in the church today and it seemly slipped in under the cover of apathy. The problem is nondiscipleship. “The disciple” according to Dallas Willard, “is one who, intent upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his ‘faith and practice,’ systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end”(1).  The nondisciple then is one who desires to be gathered with the Church without accepting the cost of discipleship. He or she desires association without following Jesus, leaving the clutches of the world, or being set apart in such a way that it surely might be “obvious to every thoughtful person around us, as well as to ourselves”(2).

How did this happen? How can it be that the American church today is so full of nondisciples? “For at least several decades,” contends Willard, “the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship” (3).

The expense of this great lethargy is severe. “Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it cost exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10)”(4). In light of such nondiscipline, the answer is clear—rearrange your affairs to follow Jesus with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength as his disciple, being formed into his likeness.


______
1. Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected readings for individuals and Groups (New York: NY, HarperCollins, 2005), 7.
2. Ibid., 16.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., 16.

* This post comes from a paragraph of a paper written for the partial fulfillment of a DMin at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  It has been redacted and modified for this website.

David Platt on Local Church Membership

March 10, 2015.

Church membership is a sticky thing in our overly-individualistic society.  'Sticky' might even be too soft a word.  'Hot' could be a better word.  'Controversial' is another one.   Polarizing.  Offensive.  Idol-smashing.  Abrasive to our pride.  These are words that may describe attitudes toward membership in the local church; but these are not the feelings of every believer.  In all my time as a pastor I've never seen a new believer freak out over membership.  It's the opposite in fact.

The leadership at Redeeming Life Church is exploring a form of membership called covenant membership.  Names are somewhat arbitrary here, but we want to enter into a covenant with one another as a local extension of the Church, to be the Church and to make Christ known.

We're a church plant just getting started and church plants initially have a tendency of attracting jaded Christians who have been hurt by other congregations.  As a defense, pride runs high.  I've found that membership--dare I say, even commitment to a local body of believers--can be a tremendous struggle for these Christians who come with a little more baggage than others.  (Just mentioning the idea of a commitment in a sermon once earned me a barrage of emails about how membership is heretical and pastors who would even dare consider such a thing are abusing the flock.)

From the very early days of meeting as a study in my home, we've always known we'd have some form of covenant membership.  We know it's important, jadedness, hurt, and baggage aside.  Recently, I have been discussing how we might go about this with a group of our committed folks at Redeeming Life.  I've been studying this topic from the Bible.  I read a 9Marks book on the topic. And I've been praying.  (Thankfully, our team of committed brothers and sisters have absolutely no issues with entering into a simple covenant to be committed to one another as a local church.)

In addition, I've run across a video featuring David Platt.  Platt is speaking on local church membership and I've found it rather helpful.  It's short and worth a look.


Seasons of a Leader's Life by Jeff Iorg



 Iorg, Jeff. Seasons of a Leader's Life: Learning, Leading, and Leaving Your Legacy. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Publishing, 2013.
In his book, Seasons of a Leader's Life, Dr. Jeff Iorg sets out to examine three seasons of leadership through the lens of the Apostle Peter.  In the Gospels we see Peter as a learner.  In the books of Acts he's a leader.  And by the time we read the two Epistles from Peter, he's leaving his legacy.

Iorg, a proven leader, has planted a successful church, served as the executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, and is the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Some of his other books include Live Like a Missionary, The Painful Side of Leadership, The Character of Leadership, Is God Calling Me?, The Case for Antioch: A Biblical Model for a Transformational Church, and Unscripted.

In the opening pages of Seasons of a Leader's Life, Iorg writes, "This book surveys the overarching story of Peter's ministry in Scripture, and examines leadership principles underlying the biblical narrative of Peter's life" (5).  But this book is not the definitive leadership 'how-to.' A few paragraphs later he says, "This book is organized to help you think through leadership issues; it is not intended to be a step-by-step formula for your life.  The book is also organized to stimulate further consideration of each topic" (5).   Here's a video of Iorg discussing Season of a Leader's Life with Ed Stetzer:


Jeff Iorg has hit a home run with this book.  I loved it and have recommend it to countless leaders and soon-to-be leaders. 

The chapters are short and easy.  The content is serious but peppered with stories and illustrations that make the book fun to read.  And at any point if it seems Iorg is off, he has provided the Scripture so the reader can open his or her Bible and personally examine Peter's life.

"Hopefully," writes Iorg, "this book will be an ideal resource for mentoring groups, reading groups, self-directed leadership development groups, staff improvement exercises, classroom readings, and organizational development for emerging leaders" (6).  I believe Iorg is correct.  I encouraged members of my church staff as well as some lay leaders in the congregation to pick up this book.  My intention was to allow them to move through it how they saw fit. (It's always nice to see how staff members address book recommendations from the boss!)  One staffer grabbed hold of the book and it really seemed to be helpful to him.  (He has since applied to go to seminary.)  An intern (from a seminary where Iorg is not the president) thumbed through the book and read chapters occasionally as he had time.  I suspect it will help him has he thinks through the material and eventually enters the leadership phase of his ministry.  A few of our lay leaders also found the book extremely helpful.  It has prompted some really good conversations with quite a few leaders and future leaders.

I personally loved this book.  I found it informative and extremely helpful in shaping my thinking about my own leadership.  It also helped me realize that leadership comes in seasons.  I've entered the season of the leader but my staff are in the learner season.  Those mentoring me are entering the legacy leaving season.  Understanding these seasons has greatly helped me relate to those in different seasons.

I highly recommend this book to anybody thinking about leading, presently in leadership, or trying to understand how to leave a lasting impact as he or she exits leadership.

In addition, Salty Believer Unscripted has conducted two interviews with Jeff Irog in a series on church planting and this book comes up in that conversation.
-- An Interview with Dr. Jeff Iorg audio-- Another Interview with Dr. Jeff Iorg audio
Purchase Seasons of a Leader's Life here.

*I am a doctoral candidate at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary where Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president; however, I initiated this interview.  In addition, purchasing Seasons of a Leader's Life through the links on this website help support this website ministry. 

Is Christianity Easy or Hard?

C. S. Lewis asks a deeply significant question: “Is Christianity hard or easy?” (1). The answer, from his book Mere Christianity, argues for both. “You have noticed, I expect,” writes Lewis, “that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes very easy. He says, ‘Take up your Cross’—in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light.” (2).

This fascinating paradox is only an enigma if one attempts to hold on to the natural self. As Lewis contends, we are to give up our own life, desires, and temptation to hold something back for ourselves, and give it all to Christ, which will cause Christ to indwell our souls. And when we are no longer our own, the question of hard or easy easy is no longer a question at all. The complexity and strain of Christianity no longer matters. Hard and easy are measures that fail to report on the reality of Christianity. We no longer labor toward morality. No more do we seek to do good, but to be Christ-like. “It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soak right through,” says Lewis (3). No, Christianity is not a question of hard or easy, but a question of deeply inside or only a thin outside covering.


________
1. Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected readings for individuals and Groups (New York: NY, HarperCollins, 2005), 7.
2. Ibid. 8.
3. Ibid. 9.

* This post comes from a paragraph of a paper written for the partial fulfillment of a DMin at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  It has been redacted and modified for this website.

Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman

Leeman, Jonathan.  Church Membership: How the world knows who represents Jesus. Wheaton, Ill:  Crossway 2012.  
Church membership is, sadly, a controversial matter in the American Church.  People will leave churches at the very mention of the word, "membership."  Arguments on this topic can get really hot.  On the other side, there are also Christians that are so apathetic to the topic they've chosen to know nothing about it and ignore or rewrite anything in the Bible that might simply hint at membership.  Most Christians are sandwiched between these two extremes and that is who Jonathan Leeman seeks in his book, Church Membership: How the world knows who represents Jesus.

Church Membership is a small book--only 132 small pages--in the 9Marks series, Building Healthy Churches.    This series include titles such as Evangelism by Mark Stiles, Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne, Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman, and Expositional Preaching by David Helm.

Leeman sets the parameters of his audience, writing, "I'm not writing [this book] primarily for the person who is skeptical of church membership, though, if that's you, it might prove helpful, too.  I'm aiming for the average church goer, church member, and church leader who have been going along with the crowd on this topic" (18).  His intention, it seems, is to provide something of an introduction rather than an argument for church membership; however, his introduction does do a nice job arguing in favor of membership.

"My primary purpose," writes Leeman, "is to show you what church membership is, because it's not what you think it is" (18).  In what follows, Leeman walks his readers through a survey of the New Testament, offering all the spots that hit at or explicitly point to membership within both the universal Body of Christ as well as in the local church.  He also offers a great deal of logical progression through the topic, doing well to keep the Bible in view (most of the time).

Church Membership is an easy, quick read, but it will not appeal to everybody.  For those already determined that membership in a specific local church is a prerequisite and necessary for salvation, this book will not likely persuade one away from heresy.  Likewise, the person who has already predetermined that membership in a local church is akin to abusive of the flock will reject Leeman's biblical survey and call him anamatha. However, for those in the middle, who reside within Leeman's intended audience, this book should be both informative and helpful.

I found it helpful and well written.  It probably could have made the same points in half as many pages, but I understand, publishers don't like to print 75 page booklets as much as they prefer to print 132 page books.  

If membership is a topic on which you could use more information, I recommend this little book.  Purchase it at Amazon.com here.  

*Purchases generated from the link above help support this website. 

Stop Saying 'What Would it Look Like'

If you've viewed any ministry video lately--especially those made by college ministries, church plants, or urban churches--you've likely heard someone on the video say something like, "We wanted to explore what it would look like to . . . "  It's time we stop saying that line and start saying something else.

Here's what happens. A group of people get together and have an idea.  They feel a need.  Maybe God calls them to do something.  Or maybe whatever they put in that blank is just the new, cool, trendy thing to say.

I've heard things like. . .

"We want to explore what it would look like to be the Church in the inner-city." 
"We set out to understand what it would really look like to love people like God loves people."  
"We started meeting to discover what it would look like to help these prostitute mothers." 

Here's the problem.  The statement is a non-committal.  It's too safe and many people hide behind it, especially young people.  It is more of call to form a committee and talk then any kind of real action.  When the group finally discovers what it does look like, the members still reserve the option to back out, sometimes even before they get started.  The statement lacks action and risk.

I don't believe God calls us to know what something looks like.  That's just a curious study or endless discussions over coffee.  Abraham wasn't called to know what it would look like to leave his land and go, he was just told to go.  Barnabas didn't explore what it would look like to find a church body in Antioch and help disciple them, he just found what he found and then when and got Paul.  God calls us to be something, do something, or pray for something, and after we've done that, we'll know what it looks like.  We don't need to worry too much in the meantime if we're going to be faithful. And chances are good that what it looks like is not anything we ever would have understood at the start of the thing.  You'll know what it looks like when you get there, but you have get moving in that direction to get started.

So maybe a better thing to say is, "What is it going to take for us to . . . " or "what's the next step we need to take?"  Or even better, just simplify.
"We want to be the Church in the inner-city"
"We want to love people like God loves people."
"We are helping these prostitute mothers."  
It's really okay to figure how how it will look when you get there, so go ahead and take a step of faith and get moving. Take a risk.  See what happens.  It will be worth it.

Help Push Back Lostness in Salt Lake City

2/3/2015

Church planting is hard work.  It takes grit and spit and a little elbow grease.  It demands resources and thick skin. And above all, it depends upon the mercy and grace of God, so we pray. I am leading a church plant in Salt Lake City and in a lot of ways it feels like we've got a little baby on our hands--a little baby church that's just been birthed.

My wife recently gave birth to our daughter.  Some wonderful church friends threw her a baby shower; but before the shower, Lisa and I went to Target and shot things we needed for the baby with a laser gun to add it to a registry.  I listed some Bose noise-cancelling headphones but nobody ponied up the $300 for those and my wife teased me relentlessly. (True story.)   The nice thing about registering is we were able to get the things the baby needed most from those who truly wanted to help us.  It has been a huge blessing.

I often feel like Redeeming Life Church, a little baby church plant, needs a registry blaster to mark out what we need most.  We need a church plant shower.  In fact, when we move our Sunday service out of the building of our sending church and into the northwest quadrant of the Salt Lake valley, we should have a shower.  Or maybe if you'll let me mix my metaphors, we'll have a church plant house warming party.

But in the meantime, we could still really use your help.  Here's how individuals and churches can help us see the lift off of a local Christian church in the Rose Park area.  (I realize you might only be here to read the blog and could actually be annoyed by my plug for help. If so, please notice how commercial free this website typically is.  This is important enough for Redeeming Life Church that I thought I would post a rare request here.)

We are working hard to share the gospel and make disciples.  We want to gather these disciples into a church and all of this takes resources.  We need supplies for our church services.  We want to give out printed materials and Bibles.  And we spend a lot of time across the table with people in our homes, coffee shops, and restaurants.

1.  First and foremost, we need prayer.  We need lots of prayer because the truth is there is no way we could do this without God's hand in it all.  Please pray for us, boldly and often.  And please pray for the people of Salt Lake.

2.  Next, we have some bills to pay and could certainly use some financial help.  Many among our little baby congregation are faithfully giving but we need some help getting started because we're still small.  We don't want to be on "welfare" for long, but we could use a boost to get us going.  If you'd like to help us financially, you can find info on how to help here.

3.  If you like to support missionaries, please consider supporting Brett and Nicole Ricley.  They are serving with Redeeming Life Church as self-supported missionaries trying to push back lostness in a place where less than 3% of the population is Christian.  (Just a hint, that's Salt Lake City).  This family is huge blessing to me and Redeeming Life and we greatly appreciate all those who help support them to make their mission possible. You can learn more about that and support the Ricley's here.

4.  Another way you can help us is by sending us copies of The Jesus Storybook Bible.  We give this book to children and their parents because it is a fantastic gospel message that shows how all of the Bible points to Jesus.  We'd like to give these out like candy because we believe The Jesus Storybook Bible will have an impact with families who don't yet know Jesus.

5.  Finally, we meet with lots of people and could also use gift cards to places like Starbucks, Subway, Wal-Mart (for supplies and groceries for hosting in our homes), Chick-Fil-A, McDonalds, Denny's, Beans & Brews, Jimmy Johns, Apollo Burger, and other similar places that have a place for us to sit and use for meeting places.  In a way, these gift cards not only help us show hospitality to those we meet with, it helps pay the rent for the "office space" where we hope to share Jesus.

You can send your support and materials to:
Redeeming Life Church
2780 East 3900 South
Salt Lake, Utah 84124
Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement!

May God bless you,
Bryan

Some Great Wisdom on Church Planting

How did the church you attend (that is, if you attend church) get started? Who did the hard work to get it going?  Who was there in the early season of your local congregation?

Getting a local congregation going is often called church planting.  It sounds strange, but as Dave Nelson points out, "every church that exists had to start at some point."

Church planting is hard work.  I can speak with some limited experience; however, as a guy trying to plant a church, I would love the opportunity to sit down at a coffee shop with a handful of guys who've done it and chat.  Then I realized I have a podcast called Salty Believer Unscripted.  So, I reached out to some guys and set it up.

I suspect guys trying to plant churches might be interested in hearing from those who've paved the way before them; but even missionally minded congregants could benefit.  Advancing the gospel in America is hard work.  Maybe God is calling you to join the effort to plant a church but you really have no idea what that means.  Maybe you're a church planter looking for some wisdom from others.  Or maybe you've never even hear the term church planting.  If any of these are the case, check out what these planters have to say.


Church Planting
-- What is Church Planting? audio
-- An Interview with Dr. Rich Johnstone audio
-- An Interview with Stephen Bruker audio
-- An Interview with Mike Littleton audio
-- An Interview with Kyle Costello audio
-- An Interview with Dave Nelson audio
-- An Interview with Bryan Catherman audio
-- An Interview with Dr. J.D. Payne audio
-- Another Interview with Dr. J.D. Payne audio
-- An Interview with Dr. Jeff Iorg audio
-- Another Interview with Dr. Jeff Iorg audio
-- An Interview with Danny Braga audio

And if you feel like you could help out a church plant in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.  You can help us at Redeeming Life Church or I'll be happy to find a plant for you to serve along side.

Evangelism Conference 2015


On February 6th and 7th, some great brothers and sisters are gathering to discuss the importance of evangelism.  Terry Rials, Dave Earley, Randy McWhorter, Joel Southerland, and others will help equip and train those of us in Utah who desperately need to engage in more evangelism.

This is a free conference provided by the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Conference and hosted by Mountain View Baptist Church.  You don't want to miss it.

The conference begins at 1pm on Friday and runs into the evening.  It will pick up again for a Saturday morning session starting at 8am.  (If you can't get off work early on Friday, you can still pick it up at 6pm and catch Dave Earley and some of the session.)  If you'd like to attend, please register here.

Childcare is available for children 5 and under.

I'm thrilled about this conference.  In part because God is greatly working on me in the area of evangelism; but more so, because I know and love a couple of these great speakers.  Dr. Dave Earley was the professor of three of my classes in seminary at Liberty.  They were great courses because of Dave's experience, passion, and expertise.  He's also the author of a book I absolutely love called, Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders.  In addition, Dave left Lynchburg to plant a church in Las Vegas and it seems to be doing amazing things for God's Kingdom in Sin City.  Dr. Randy McWhorter was also one of my professors of a leadership seminar in my Doctor of Ministry studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.  He's also very passionate, wise, and a great instructor.

Early Mark Manuscript Closer to Validation

1/19/2015

On May 22, 2012 I published a post on this website about the potential of a First Century manuscript fragment of the Book of Mark.  (You can find that post here).  Now it seems that we are getting closer to validating that find.  These things take peer-review and that takes lots of time, but LiveScience.com posted an article with more details about this discovery.  (You can find that article here.)

It turns out that the manuscript pages of the book of Mark were used as something like a paper mache (or more appropriately a papyri mache) Egyptian mask.  The mask, like the one pictured in this post, was much like the more popular gold masks only for those of a lower income.  Even then, papyri was expensive so it made sense to use recycle papyri.  It's just going to be painted anyway, right?  Dr. Craig Evans has reported that he has found numerous documents contained in the recycled papyri in these masks, including business documents, classical greek works, and this very special manuscript of Mark.

Why is this a big deal?

Here's why.  It's a document of Mark that's much closer to the original.  Critical scholars will often argue that the Gospels were written hundreds of years after the event.  This manuscript disputes those claims.  It's also fascinating where it was found.  It would seem that in order for the document to turn up in Egypt, it had to have been copied from another source (or the original) sometime earlier.

This is a remarkable find and will likely shake up the academic world as this makes its way through peer review.  Keep your eyes open and on the lookout for more information to come.

*The mask pictured in this post is an Egyptian funerary mask located in a museum in Vienna, Austria. The photo is in the public domain.