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Extracurricular Activities — February 1, 2014
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered intricate mosaics on the floor of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church, including one that bears a Christogram surrounded by birds.
The ruins were discovered during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project in Aluma, a village about 50 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday (Jan. 22).
Much of the church was revealed during excavations over the past month. The basilica was part of a local Byzantine settlement, but the archaeologists suspect it also served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities because it was next to the main road running between the ancient seaport city of Ashkelon in the west and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem in the east.
There has been some recent debate about whether persons were crucified in the nude or not, and whether there is evidence that could settle this issue. There is no real historical doubt Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate (a punishment referred to by Tacitus himself who tells us Christ suffered ‘the extreme penalty’ which was crucifixion). But in fact there is evidence in Artemidorus about whether the crucified person was nude or not— in fact he was. Here is what Artemidorus says….
“Crucifixion is favorable for seafarers for the cross like a ship is made of wood and nails, while the ship’s mast resembles a cross [something that could never be said about a mere stake]. The symbol also means the betrayal of secrets for the crucified man is completely naked and seen by all.” Artemidorus 2.53.
A few of the responses from a pastors’ and theologians’ forum hosted by 9Marks several years ago:
What can we learn from the Fundamentalists? Well, to start with, how about the fundamentals? These sturdy Christians stood courageously for crucial doctrines of faith such as the total truthfulness of Holy Scripture, the Virgin Birth of Christ, his substitutionary atoning death on the cross, etc. when these teachings were under attack by unbelieving theologians. Thank God for them and for their courage...
Darryl G. Hart
The Virtue of Being Suspicious...
Christian believers of all types might learn much, both positively and negatively, from the history of Fundamentalism...
Of all the casualties the church has suffered in recent decades, I wonder if many will have longer-lasting consequences than the loss of the evening service. There was a time, not so long ago, when many or even most churches gathered in the morning and the evening. But today the evening service is increasingly relegated to the past.
At Grace Fellowship Church we hold on to the evening service and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It is a commitment, to be sure—a commitment for the pastors to plan a second service and to prepare a second sermon, and a commitment for the members to give the church not only the morning but also the evening. But these are small costs compared to the great benefits. Here are a few things I love about an evening service.
Sermon preparation is a delight and chore for the pastor. It is a delight because we love the Word of God and the people of God. After all, God uses preaching to initiate and sustain the joyful worship of his people, which in turn glorifies God (2 Tim. 3-4).
It is also a chore. This is because sermon prep is hard work. Thorny interpretive issues, homiletical hurdles, and church family dynamics often make sermon preparation difficult.
But there is another aspect of sermon prep that is too often either assumed or neglected. I am talking about the preparation of the pastor's heart to actually preach the sermon. Preparing a sermon is not only about exegesis, reading commentaries, articulating propositions, and finding appropriate illustrations. Sermon preparation is also about personally discovering, digesting, and delighting in the truth.
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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