Resurrection of the Body?
On April 5, 2006, Scripps Howard News Service reported that “Most Americans don’t believe they will experience a resurrection of their bodies when they die, putting them at odds with a core teaching of Christianity.” The report continued that this poll “put Americans in conflict with both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed, ancient statements of faith meant to unify Christian belief. The Nicene Creed, adopted in 325 at the First Council of Nicea under Roman Emperor Constantine, concludes with the famous words: ‘We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.’ Similarly, the Apostles’ Creed professes a belief in ‘the resurrection of the body.’ Only 36 percent of the 1,007 adults interviewed a month ago by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University said ‘yes’ to the question: ‘Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?’ Fifty-four percent said they do not believe and 10 percent were undecided.”
The article continued:
“‘I don’t know what to make of this,’ said retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of ‘Resurrection: Myth or Reality’… ‘Maybe the old Greek idea of an immortal soul has taken over and the idea of a resurrected body has fallen into disrepute’… Robert Wuthnow, director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, said the poll seems to have broken new ground in understanding America’s popular theology. ‘This is definitely interesting. I haven’t seen a similar question asked before,’ Wuthnow said. ‘In a way, though, it doesn’t surprise me. I can think of interpretations of the creeds that would suggest a spiritual resurrection rather than one of the physical body.'”
The poll reflects the confusion of Christian believers pertaining to the teachings of their churches. Of course, the confusion started already with orthodox Christianity’s “explanations,” as stated especially in the “Apostle’s Creed.” The Bible nowhere teaches the resurrection of the physical body of those who die in Christ. In fact, that would be quite an impossibility, as the physical body decays. Paul teaches that we will be resurrected with a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 44). Correctly understood, the orthodox Christian teaching of the resurrection of our physical bodies is plainly false. And so is the teaching of an immortal soul. No wonder, then, that most Americans are confused about these vital issues. But theologians should not be “surprised” about this confusion; rather, they should blame themselves as the confusion results from their own wrong teachings.
For more information, please read our free booklet, “Do You Have an Immortal Soul?”
The “Gospel of Judas”
On April 5, 2006, Zenit published an interesting article about the so-called “Gospel of Judas,” stating that “The National Geographic Society has announced its intentions to publish an English translation of an ancient text… later this month. The 31-page manuscript, written in Coptic, purportedly surfaced in Geneva in 1983 and has only been translated now. ZENIT asked… Thomas D. Williams, dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, to comment on the relevance of the discovery.” Here are excerpts from Mr.Williams’ thoughtful comments:
“Though the manuscript still must be authenticated, it likely represents a fourth- or fifth-century text, and is a copy of an earlier document produced by a Gnostic sect called the Cainites. The document paints Judas Iscariot in a positive light, and describes him as obeying a divine ordinance in handing over Jesus to the authorities for the salvation of the world. It may well be a copy of the ‘Gospel of Judas’ referred to by St. Irenaeus of Lyons in his work ‘Against the Heresies,’ written around A.D. 180… The Gnostic gospels, of which there are many besides this one, are not Christian documents per se, since they proceed from a syncretistic sect that incorporated elements from different religions, including Christianity. From the moment of their appearance, the Christian community rejected these documents because of their incompatibility with the Christian faith… To put a historical perspective on things, that would be like you or me writing a text now on the American Civil War and having that text later used as a primary historical source on the war….
“Such theories regarding Judas are certainly not new. It’s enough to remember the 1973 play ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ where Judas sings, ‘I have no thought at all about my own reward. I really didn’t come here of my own accord,’ or Taylor Caldwell’s 1977 novel ‘I, Judas.’ The enormous economic success of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has undoubtedly stirred up the pot, and provided financial incentive for theories of this sort. Michael Baigent, author of ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail,’ now has a book out called ‘The Jesus Papers,’ which recycles the old story that Jesus survived the crucifixion. And a newly released ‘scientific’ study asserts that meteorological conditions could have been such that Jesus really walked on ice, when the Gospels say he walked on water. Basically, for those who reject outright the possibility of miracles, any theory, outlandish as it may be, trumps Christian claims.”
It is, in fact, true that people with itching ears like to listen to anything BUT the Holy Bible. There is a reason for the antagonistic approach of many Christian “believers” toward the one and only book, which should be the very foundation of their Christian belief. For answers to these puzzling questions, please watch our new StandingWatch program, titled, “Da Vinci, Judas and a Fish.”
Italian Election Results
Der Spiegel Online, in collaboration with The New York Times, published the following editorial on April 12: “Italian elections did not used to be like this–so closely fought, so ideologically polarized–in short, so like the American presidential elections of 2004 and 2000… But that was before the era of Silvio Berlusconi, the center-right politician, showman and self-made billionaire who came into this week’s election as Italy’s longest continuously serving prime minister since World War II. After a long Monday night of seesawing returns, Italians awoke Tuesday to hear that Mr. Berlusconi had lost, by the narrowest of margins, to Romano Prodi, a center-left politician and economist. Mr. Prodi is Mr. Berlusconi’s opposite in almost every way… But the slimness of that majority will make it harder for the new government to push through the fiscal, labor market and regulatory reforms that Italy badly needs to revive its flagging economy and provide for its aging population.”
AFP reported on April 11 that with the election of Prodi, Bush was stripped “of another Iraqi war ally in Silvio Berlusconi, with staunch US partner Tony Blair barely holding on in Britain. Pro-war supporters had already departed in Spain and Portugal… Anti-Iraq sentiment has also colored the political landscape for other US allies, such as Poland, where a recent poll showed that 72 percent of Poles wanted their remaining 900 troops pulled out.
France, Italy and Germany
Der Spiegel Online published an article on April 11, discussing the overall situation in Europe in light of recent developments in Italy, France and Germany. It was stated: “How times have changed. Just a few months ago, Germany was still regarded as the ‘sick man’ of Europe, incapable of modernizing its once-proud economy… Things might not be exactly rosy in Germany, but some of the country’s neighbors now seem in far worse shape. The French government’s failure to implement its youth jobs law [and the announcement by President Chirac that, due to pressure from French students and unions, the proposed labor law will not become effective in France] and the emergence of what looks set to be a fragile, Socialist-led government in Italy is making Germany look positively dynamic by comparison. As students and trade unions staged parades across France on Tuesday to celebrate their victory, commentators said the center-right government’s withdrawal of the hated First Job Contract in response to weeks of strikes and mass demonstrations had killed off any prospect of reform until after the presidential election in 2007… In Italy, after a night of confusion over who had won in the closest election in modern Italian history, Romano Prodi claimed victory over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and pledged to form a ‘strong’ government, Italy’s 61st since World War Two. But his wafer-thin margin — 25,000 votes out of some 38 million cast — raised the prospect of political deadlock that would prevent him from cutting the budget deficit and revamping the country’s bloated welfare system. ‘The threat of a stalemate, the worst possible scenario, has emerged and clouds the future with uncertainty,’ bank UniCredit Banca Mobiliare said in a note to investors as share prices fell on the Milan Stock Exchange.
“Germany began tackling reforms three years ago under then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder… The measures were highly unpopular, but the people protested in a very orderly and, well, German, fashion. Punctually on every Monday evening during the summer of 2004, months before the most hard-hitting measures were to be implemented, tens of thousands would gather in cities, mostly in eastern Germany where unemployment is highest. They chanted ‘We Are The People’ and blew whistles, and would march through town to squares where union leaders and left-wing politicians riled against the reforms. Then they would roll up their banners and go home quietly. No violence. No general strike. No one seemed to consider staging a protest on a Tuesday, or a Wednesday maybe… Not so in France, where street protests, often violent, are part of the political process. Some 3,400 people were arrested during nationwide protests against the First Job Contract, with which President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin wanted to combat youth unemployment by making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers aged 26 or under.
“Participation in nationwide demonstrations twice exceeded a million people during a period where the situation intensified after trade unions began organizing a series of national strikes… The climbdown has dented Villepin’s chances of running for the presidency in 2007. In Germany, Schröder’s reforms ultimately ended his political career after a series of regional election defeats forced him to call an early general election for last September, which he lost to conservative challenger Angela Merkel. But Merkel campaigned on even tougher changes, and has begun to discuss reform of the health care system in her right-left coalition with Schröder’s Social Democrats. While unemployment hasn’t started coming down yet, business and consumer confidence is improving, boosted by the prospect of the World Cup in June. ‘I wouldn’t go as far as to say Germany is the reform engine of Europe, but it is making slow progress,’ said Deutsche Bank’s Bielmeier.”
Again, we see how Germany is emerging as Europe’s leader! This is clearly in accordance with Biblical predictions. Please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
U.S. Politics In Iraq
According to an article of April 11, which was posted on firstname.lastname@example.org, “Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany. ‘It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003,’ Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. ‘We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.’… [Referring to the situation with Iran,] Gingrich told the students their generation was entering a dangerous period–just as dangerous or more than that of the Cold War.”
On April 10, UPI quoted former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as follows: “We made some serious mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad… We didn’t have enough troops on the ground. We didn’t impose our will. And as a result, an insurgency got started, and … it got out of control.” The article continued to present Powell’s position, which appeared to be quite different from Gingrich’s, as follows: “The retired general said as a result, the United States is morally obliged to ‘stick with the people of Iraq’ for as long as it takes to restore order…” America’s leading role in the world is gradually diminishing. For information on further prophesied developments, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Nuclear War With Iran?
The national and international community reacted with horror about revelations in “The New Yorker” that allegedly some in the Bush Administration are considering dropping nuclear bombs on Iran. The newspaper, which was written by respected veteran reporter Seymour M. Hersh, published the article on April 10. (Hersh was the first who published the ground-breaking news about torture of Iraqi prisoners in the US military prison in Abu Ghraib). The report included the following excerpts:
“The Bush Administration… has… intensified planning for a possible major air attack… There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change… One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites… The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. ‘Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,’ the former senior intelligence official said. ‘”Decisive” is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.’ He went on, ‘Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years”…
“The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—WITHOUT SUCCESS, the former intelligence official said… The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option… The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran…”
The article continued:
“The Administration’s case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction… The Europeans are rattled, however, by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change… Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, was George Bush’s most dependable ally in the year leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But he and his party have been racked by a series of financial scandals, and his popularity is at a low point…”
The Washington Post confirmed some of the information in “The New Yorker” in an independent piece over the weekend. While British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw immediately rejected the reports in an interview with BBC as “completely nuts,” the Pentagon, according to Reuters of April 9, “WITHOUT DENYING THE REPORT, reiterated that it was pursuing a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row.” This reaction in a very half-hazard way prompted Der Spiegel Online to comment on April 9 that it poured even more fuel into the fire–especially in the Italian press. Even Straw’s additional comments to the BBC did not sound too re-assuring. According to Reuters, he stated: “Britain, Washington’s closest European ally, would not accept a pre-emptive strike against Iran… But if Iran were to attack Israel or to attack or THREATEN its neighbors, ‘that’s a very different circumstance,’… adding that Israel would have a right to self-defence if attacked.”
According to Straw, the mere THREAT of an attack would be sufficient justification for Israel to carry out a pre-emptive strike. This double-talk opened even wider the floodgates of speculations and fear of a potential nuclear war!
Somewhat belated, President Bush responded on April 10 to the reports. According to the Associated Press, “President Bush said Monday that force is not necessarily required to stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon, and he dismissed reports of plans for a military attack against Tehran as ‘wild speculation.'”
On the other hand, AFP reported on April 10 that “White House spokesman Scott McClellan said however that Bush is not taking the military option off the table.”
Iran’s reactions to the reports were forthcoming.
On April 11, 2006, AFP stated that “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed he will not back down ‘one iota’ over Iran’s nuclear programme.” Taking a somewhat inconsistent position, “Iran has dismissed any talk of an attack against it as ‘psychological warfare,'” while an Iranian army chief of staff, General Abdolrahim Mousavi, said that “Iran was ‘vigilant’ and ready to fight back. ‘We know America’s nature, and we are keeping enemy movements under surveillance. We are aware of their oppressive actions and goals against the Muslim nations,’ he added.”
The reports and reactions have, of course, given oil companies with record gross earnings in 2005 a welcome opportunity to try to make more money. As AFP reported on April 11, “World oil prices rose Monday, hovering around 68.0 dollars per barrel on market jitters over a potential military conflict between the United States and Iran, dealers said.” Focus Online added on April 11 that an increase of gas prices will also occur in Europe.
To top it all off, Iran announced on April 11 that they successfully enriched uranium for the first time–which is necessary to build an atomic bomb. According to an article posted on April 11 by usinfo.state.gov, “the Iranian regime is ‘moving in the wrong direction,’ White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.” He added: “‘This is a regime that has a long history of hiding its nuclear activities from the international community, and refusing to comply with its international obligations. Defiant statements and actions only further isolate the regime from the rest of the world, and further isolate the Iranian people.'”
Der Stern Online stated in its commentary on April 12 that Iran is miscalculating the situation. “With their provocations, they will not enforce concessions, but war.”
These are indeed frightening times. The Bible, sadly, predicts that just prior to the return of Christ, this world WILL experience nuclear war. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”