Priesthood of The Believer and A Once for All Sacrifice

“But the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers is not merely a negative teaching abolishing an order of clergy. For along with that freedom which makes the believer responsible only to God for his faith and life, there is an added responsibility. We are members of a Christian community, “an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). As Christians, then, we are not “laymen,” not mere spectators of the Christian enterprise who may or may not engage in it as we choose, but “priests,” and therefore responsible to God for the faith and lives of others.

We are under obligation to make known this message of salvation. The word
“layman” is not found in the New Testament, nor is there any “layman’s movement” in the Bible. A priest is inevitably involved in the lives of others, and is responsible to God for others. He has the high privilege and duty of making God known to others.

This priesthood, therefore, applies to all believers, and consists of two things: (1) Immediate access to God in prayer for one’s self, and (2) the right and duty of intercession for others. Only as we grasp these ideas can we appreciate the full, rich meaning of the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers.

Furthermore, we are a royal priesthood. That means that we have been called, chosen, by the King of Kings to be His priests before our fellow men. We are not first of all clergy and laymen. We are first of all a royal priesthood, under obligation individually to make known the message of salvation. And the strength of Protestantism lies precisely here, in the willingness of its people to accept this strange office and all that it means, and to serve in the household of God as the royal priests that we really are.

False religion has created “priest” who inserts themselves between man and God insisting that they alone are the source of God’s marvelous grace therefore you have to come to them. The New Testament says this is a lie.”

“In the Epistle to the Hebrews several chapters are devoted to showing that the Old Testament priesthood has been abolished and that there is no place in Christianity for a sacrificing priesthood, because Christ, “through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption,” and that He has offered “one sacrifice for sins forever” (9:12, 10:12). The many human priests (of OT Israel) with their innumerable animal sacrifices were effective in their work of reconciling the people to God only because they represented the true High Priest and the one true sacrifice that was to come. But after the reality appeared, there would be no more need for the shadows and types that had preceded it.

Hence we read concerning the sacrifice of Christ: “But now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”(Hebrews 9:26); and again: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The sacrifice of Christ was therefore a “once-for-all” sacrifice which only He could make, and which cannot be repeated. By its very nature it was final and complete.

It was a work of Deity, and so cannot be repeated by man any more than can the work of creation. By that one sacrifice the utmost demands of God’s justice were fully and forever satisfied. Final atonement has been accomplished! No further order of priests is needed to offer additional sacrifices or to perpetuate that one. His was the one sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Let all men now look to that one sacrifice on Calvary!

Any continuing priesthood and any “unbloody repetition of the mass,” which professes to offer the same sacrifice that Christ offered on Calvary, is in reality merely a sham and a recrudescence of Judaism within the Christian Church.”

Source: Roman Catholicism by Lorraine Boettner, p. 43 and 45, online version

Dear Reader, false religion will insert itself between you and Jesus Christ, and tell you they are the source of the grace God wants to freely give you. Jesus said,

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-29 NASB, emphasis added)

Do not let any Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant priest/minister stand between you and God. Jesus Christ is your High Priest if your born again and you yourself are a priest before Almighty God (I Peter 2:9). The New Testament exhorts us,

“Since then we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens , Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4:14-16)

If you have not been born again, which Jesus said you must be to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3), I encourage you to put your faith and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins today. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, to save you from the wrath to come and be your Lord and Savior. He will. Then He will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide you through this life and to lead you into all truth about our Himself. Then find you a Bible teaching church where you can be baptized and grow in grace and faith feeding on the Word of God only, not the commandments and teachings of men.

So be it! May God richly bless you and lead you into all Truth. Carl

Grave Knowledge

If everyone knew what the dead know, the whole world would be worshipping Jesus. Author Unknown

Epistles: The Pandemic Origins of Child Baptism

(Blogger note: I have been doing research on the origin of infant baptism and found this article by Francesco Arduini published in the Biblical Archaeology Review shed light on how the practice may have originated though it was not practiced in the New Testament. I share it with you for your consideration. May God lead you in His ways! Carl)

Pandemics can influence and radically alter habits and practices of entire populations. Billions of people have personally tested this phenomenon during the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. History knows numerous signs of behavioral practice changes that can be attributed to pandemics, such as the bubonic plague that devastated medieval Europe in the mid-14th century, upsetting many sectors of civil life, or the pestilence that ravaged the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Justinian (mid-sixth century C.E.), even forcing the Goths and the Byzantines to suspend the war fought on the Apennine Peninsula.

Like other catastrophes, pandemics can be critical and polarizing events that generate societal changes beyond the immediate, health-centered issues. Some historical pandemics also had considerable religious consequences: They fueled religious radicalism, encouraged reform movements, and inspired theological discourse. One ancient pandemic even helped to establish the Christian rite of baptism administered to little children and infants—a practice not attested in early Christian communities until the late second century.1

Sometime during 165 C.E., under Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180), the Roman Empire was struck by the first documented devastating outbreak of an infectious disease.a Known as the Antonine Plague, it probably was the first appearance of smallpox in the Mediterranean and Europe. The origin of this pandemic was probably in the city of Seleucia, near present-day Baghdad. According to the most widely accepted hypothesis, the Roman soldiers sent to invade Parthia returned in 165, spreading the plague all the way back to Rome, where, according to some modern estimates, smallpox at its apex killed approximately 5,000 people per day.

Mortality was so high it was not unusual to see caravans of fully loaded chariots carrying dead bodies from cities. The scourge reportedly wiped out more than 90 percent of the population in limited areas of Egypt and probably more than 20 percent of the Roman Empire’s total population.2

Christians likely managed to face and overcome the epidemic with greater success than pagans. It can be assumed that the organization of the Christian communities and the care that individual members showed toward the sick may have reduced their mortality rate. However, smallpox tends to cause a high mortality among children, and Christians certainly were not exempt.

The pandemic generated a religious response in the highest echelons of Roman society. Marcus Aurelius restored temples and shrines, summoned priests, and called for every form of prayer to calm the divine anger that he believed was at the origin of the plague. These unusual religious manifestations probably began around 166.3

So what kind of impact did the Antonine Plague have on Christian communities?

One might imagine that the sense of fear and impotence felt by the population along with the revival of religious sensitivities may have contributed to the growth and rapid spread of Christianity throughout the empire.b However, it is plausible that Christian communities were first reorganized internally, including on a theological level.

There hasn’t ever been a Christian community that, at any time, would not request baptism for those who wanted to be part of it. The practice of the rite generated heated debate in the 1950s and 1960s concerning the legitimacy of administering baptism to children and infants. If today the tone of the debate has somewhat dampened, it is due more to a certain fatigue than to a consensus.

The first mention of child baptism comes from the bishop Irenaeus and dates to c. 180 C.E. (Adversus haereses 2.22.4). But we must wait another 20 years to find a clear statement on the baptism of children, put in writing by the prolific author Tertullian, in c. 200 C.E. (De baptismo 18.1.4–5). Tertullian opposed baptizing children, who do not fully understand the significance of the rite. However, it is equally clear that by the end of the second century child baptism was already a reality. About 15 years later, the theologian Hippolytus in his Apostolic Tradition provides a palpable liturgical formulation of the baptism of children (21).

To what factor do we owe the rapid establishment of this habit within the Christian community between 180 and 200 C.E.? The growing number of those who were born into Christian families (as opposed to adult converts) meant an increasing presence of children within the Christian community. When we consider the high infant mortality rate, we can see how an emergency practice of administering the salvific (i.e. leading to salvation) baptism to infants eventually became a normal practice—even more so under the circumstances of a cruel pandemic. Once the emergency of the epidemic was over, in 180 C.E., Irenaeus and other Christian theologians developed a theology of infant baptism and spread the teaching in the following 20 years, so much so that Tertullian, at the dawn of the third century, speaks of it as a commonly accepted practice.

The problem with this scenario is that the connection between the beginnings of infant baptism and the Antonine Plague is purely hypothetical, because no literary source explicitly expresses it. Intriguingly, not only is the link between the plague and infant baptism missing, but also any type of generic mention of the plague in the writings of contemporary Christian authors. We can assume that in the middle of the Antonine Plague every learned debate was silenced by the emergency of the epidemic. The plausible demands for seriously ill children by their Christian parents, who wanted to ensure their salvation through baptism, needed immediate action. It was only when the calamity ended that the first references to the baptism of children began to appear, while the silence of the sources on the plague itself persisted.

So why this silence even after 180 C.E.?

The majority pagan population considered the epidemic a sign of the gods’ disfavor, putting the blame on Christians. Christianity, still living in the imminence of Christ’s return, interpreted this event in a similar manner—as God’s disapproval of the world’s immorality, despite Christians’ presence. The Antonine Plague was the first devastating demographic catastrophe that struck the church. Apologists had to face a sort of theological disorientation: how to justify this “divine punishment.” Is it possible that this disorientation resulted in the puzzling silence of literary sources?

Throughout the subapostolic period, there is no explicit reference to the baptism of children. Every time the topic is tackled, children are considered pure regardless. This was orthodoxy up to the time of the Christian theologian Justin (in 150 C.E.), who was the last apologist to write about baptism before the Antonine Plague struck the Roman Empire (First Apology 61.9–10). Thirty years later, with Irenaeus, the situation seems to have changed, and, after 20 more years, we learn from Tertullian that the practice of infant baptism was implemented unreservedly.

Between 150 and 180 C.E. something must have happened that would justify such an important and unprecedented change. The Antonine Plague fits perfectly in the history of baptismal theology, presenting itself as a crucial event on the world stage.

FRANCESCO ARDUINI is an author and independent researcher in biblical studies and the history of Christianity. He wrote the book Il battesimo dei bambini (2010).

A Famous Painter’s Insight

Of chalices they make helmet and sword and sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord. Michelangelo

What a shocking statement! When I initially read this, I was shocked by the second part, “sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord.”

The author of this famous quote is Michelangelo, the famous painter hired by pope Julius II (1503-1513) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. He also painted the Last Judgement. The chapel is in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City which is the residence of the pope and where the new popes are decided.

The chapel is named after and was built by pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484). You may remember him from your study of church history as the pope who taxed the numerous brothels in Rome with a Church tax. He added to this considerable profit by charging a tax on mistresses kept by priests, though he paid no tax on his own mistresses. This revenue stream was a side “benefit” of the Vatican’s doctrine of celibacy.

The word ‘they’ in the quote refers to the pope of his day, Julius, and his passion for fighting “holy wars” to extend the papal territories. Unfortunately for those who resisted the popes and their errors, Julius was not the only pope who believed the killing of those who disagreed with them was approved by Jesus Christ. It is estimated by credible historians that approximately 50 million true Christians, Jews, even some Catholics and others died during the 605 years the Roman Catholic popes operated the Inquisition.

The shocking, second part of the quote stated, “sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord”, refers to the pope’s selling “salvation” for gold, silver, precious gems, mammon or service to whatever cause the pope was promoting. Pope Urban II in 1096, who inspired the first ungodly, unchristian crusade to retake Jerusalem, promised “salvation” to those who killed the heretics (Muslims and Jews) or died in battle. Martin Luther, himself a Catholic monk, lit the fuse of the Reformation in the 1500s because pope Leo X was selling “salvation” through indulgences in what we now know as Germany. Leo used the money to rebuild Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The apostle Peter said this about the blood of Jesus: “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.”

The Lord’s blood is precious to God the Father and is the ransom paid for the salvation of those who repent and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ.

Woe to those who think they can trade on it!

Carl

The Shroud of Turin: Anything Left to Say?

The Shroud of Turin is a linen sheet long claimed to feature the image of the tortured body of Jesus of Nazareth. It has been kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Turin.
Credit: Photo by Giuseppe Enrie, 1931, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review

Today many consider the Shroud of Turin—the alleged burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth—to be the most important relic of Christianity.1 It is a linen sheet measuring about 14.5 by 3.5 feet and featuring a monochromatic image on the front and back of a naked male figure. This figure appears to bear marks from flagellation and crucifixion as well as various red spots corresponding to the blows. The human image is the result of a change in the color of the linen fibers, but it remains to be fully understood how such coloration occurred. Two scorch marks, which appear as black lines, and a series of vaguely triangular holes caused by burns, run lengthwise down the fabric, on either side of the human figure. This damage is believed to have occurred due to fire in 1532.

The Shroud was first photographed in 1898, and this year is commonly considered to mark the emergence of sindonology (from the Greek word sindōn, used in the Gospels to define Jesus’s burial cloth), that is, the science—or, rather, set of scientific disciplines—that set out to prove the authenticity of the Shroud. Over the past 120 years, sindonology has produced hundreds of books and articles dedicated to the relic, involving every possible field: chemistry, physics, forensic medicine, palynology, numismatics, and so on. Although the field is dominated by the so-called hard sciences, some authors have also dealt with the relic’s history. These accounts recount what can be inferred from historical documents. But because such are only available from the Middle Ages onwards, historians often use imagination to fill the large chronological gap between the first and 14th centuries. It is telling to see how the historiography of the Shroud during the early modern era and until the turn of the 20th century strove to remove any untoward aspects from its history by suppressing inconvenient documents and creating new legends.

Shroud of Turin - Deposition of Christ

Deposition of Christ (1620), by Giovanni Battista della Rovere, portrays the imagined origins of the Shroud of Turin. It shows Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and John the Evangelist wrapping Jesus’s body in a burial cloth. The angels above display the resulting image.
Credit: Galleria Sabauda, Turin

There are two irreconcilable positions on the authenticity of the Shroud: The camp of sindonologists assert the relic’s authenticity, and the other side insists the Shroud is a pious medieval forgery. The overwhelming majority of scholars has supported the latter view, while the former has always enjoyed support in religious circles as well as a great deal of coverage by media outlets, always hungry to report on the supernatural and mysterious.

Thanks to the tenacity of sindonologists, the Shroud has survived even the most severe blows that brought down the structure of a belief in its authenticity. Historically, the first substantial blow came at the end of the 19th century, when prominent French historian and canon Ulysse Chevalier published and commented on the medieval documents referring to the moment the relic surfaced in the historical record. In particular, Chevalier reported on the position expressed by two contemporary bishops of the city of Troyes, the diocese in which the relic appeared in the 14th century, who denounced the relic as a forgery and forbade people from venerating it as the real shroud of Christ. Another critical assessment of the Shroud came from archaeological studies of the type of cloth and Jewish burial practices used at the time of Jesus that suggested the relic was from the Middle Ages.

The most serious blow then came from modern scientific analysis of the artifact. The radiocarbon dating of the fabric carried out in 1988 in three different laboratories indicated a date range of between 1260 and 1390. As is well known, this evidence failed to convince the Shroud’s supporters, who continue to produce literature to the contrary, discrediting the radiocarbon results on a variety of grounds. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has not allowed any new scientific examination of the cloth, alleged human blood, or the nature of the image.

Understandably, the authenticity discussion has almost completely stalled out. With no new data to consider and the two camps entrenched in their positions, is there anything left to say about the Shroud? If we do not want to engage in the fight over its authenticity, is the Shroud still an object deserving of further study?

We need to recognize that the issue of authenticity is only one among many. As a professional historian born in Turin and familiar with the Shroud from childhood, I felt very uneasy when I reviewed the extant scholarship on the subject and realized that very little had been published on the relic’s history and archaeology. This is due in part to the fact that professional historians and archaeologists—most of whom consider the Shroud to be a medieval artifact—prefer to keep their distance from such a controversial subject. As a result, the Shroud is absent from history textbooks and studies of ancient or medieval Christianity or Christian archaeology. It remains a disputed object that scholars prefer to ignore. Most books on the Shroud either have copied from each other or are shaped by devotional interests. Their authors usually lack sufficient training in historical-critical methods, and their coverage of historical and archaeological aspects is insufficient.

It was in this spirit that I set out to investigate the historical and archaeological sources, devoting approximately a decade to the study of the Shroud. In my research, I considered both published sources and unpublished documents from public and private Italian, Vatican, and French archives.2

Although knowing the origin of a relic is certainly important, it would be a mistake to focus all efforts on this point. The issue of origin and authenticity is only one among many. Cynically speaking, most relics are intrinsically worthless objects—materially, the Shroud is nothing but an old piece of cloth. Relics only gain importance when someone attributes it to them. It would also be a mistake to focus on a single relic. Expanding the focus beyond one particular object to examine also all that surrounds it has the potential to highlight the power of symbolic language and to understand the historical underpinnings and meanings.

The Veil of Veronica is one of the multiple shrouds and veils historically associated with Jesus’s execution and burial. This painting by Lorenzo Costa is titled Saint Veronica (1508).
Credit: Shonagon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On the latter point, it is important to note that until the second half of the sixth century, no one had ever looked for Jesus’s burial cloths, and that there was no record of them. It was only in the sixth century that burial cloths began to appear among the references to various relics of Christ. It is very instructive to follow the stories of these “sister” shrouds, which increased in number over time. They came, one by one, from Palestine and entered collections in all the most important cities of the world. Since the Carolingian period (eighth to ninth centuries), France has stood out as the place with the highest concentration of shrouds. Although some of them vanished, others still exist: The shroud of Cadouin was venerated until 1933, when it was proved to be a medieval Islamic cloth; or the shroud of Carcassonne, also from the Middle Ages. In Spain, the shroud of Oviedo is still regarded as a relic despite its dating from approximately the eighth century.

Among the dozens of alleged shrouds and sudaria (or, small cloths), the Shroud of Turin is unique because it, unlike the others, bears the image of Jesus’s tortured body. There were cloth relics with the image of Jesus already in late antiquity, but those depicted only his face: the Veil of Veronica, Mandylion of Edessa,3 and the Camouliana.

My recent study of historical documents corrects a great many misconceptions about the Shroud of Turin and provides a clear description of the first decades of life of this cloth, which appeared practically out of nowhere around 1355, in a country church in the middle of France. At the time, ecclesiastics, bishops, nobles, and even the king of France and the Pope all took interest in the matter.

Since the 16th century, the Shroud of Turin has been a powerful religious relic and political tool. This photo is of the 1933 exhibition of the Shroud in the Cathedral of Turin. Credit: Archivio Arcivescovile di Torino

When it first appeared, two local bishops declared it to be a forgery, the king of France tried to seize it, and the pontiff forbade people from describing it as the authentic linen cloth that once enveloped Jesus in the tomb. However, matters took a different turn in 1453, when, after a series of events worthy of a historical novel, the Duke of Savoy illegally purchased the Shroud, invalidating all previous acts of censorship. When it was transferred to Chambéry and then, in 1578, to Turin—the two capitals of the Duchy of Savoy that later became the Kingdom of Italy—the relic became the most precious religious object of the sovereign family. It also played a political role in the hands of the House of Savoy.

Following the history of the Shroud means touching on multiple themes related to theology, devotion, literature, art history, and politics. The relic may seem frozen in time, but it is not a static artifact; rather, it has very much reflected changing historical circumstances, and its role in history has evolved together with societal changes. It first had to face the criticism of the Protestant world, then that of the Enlightenment, then critiques from modern historians and scientists, and finally—after the authentic documents had surfaced and opposition to the relic even by prominent ecclesiastics—the disaffection of those who had come to view the cult of relics as nothing but the survival of old superstitions. Yet, through waxing and waning fortune, the Shroud has survived to this day.


About the Author

 
Andrea Nicolotti is Professor of History of Christianity and the Churches at the University of Turin. A leading specialist on the history of relics and shrouds, he has published two books on the subject in English: From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin: The Metamorphosis and Manipulation of a Legend (Leiden: Brill, 2014) and The Shroud of Turin: The History and Legends of the World’s Most Famous Relic (Waco: Baylor Univ. Press, 2020).


Notes:

1. This article discusses how the Shroud of Turin has been viewed, studied, and interpreted throughout history and does not present arguments for or against its authenticity.

2. I presented the results of this investigation in my book The Shroud of Turin: The History and Legends of the World’s Most Famous Relic (Baylor Univ. Press, 2019). Art historians, in their turn, may examine the Shroud in the context of the artistic culture of early modern Italy: Andrew R. Casper, An Artful Relic: The Shroud of Turin in Baroque Italy (Penn State Univ. Press, 2021).

3. See Strata, “Is This the Face of Jesus?” BAR, July/August 2011.

Is There Enough Evidence?

If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself on his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death.”

This quote comes from an ancient writing (1100 AD) of the Waldenses entitled the Nobla Leycon (Noble Lesson). The Waldenses are a very ancient branch of the True Church that left the “wreck of primitive Christianity” (Church of Rome) in the 800s AD.

J.A. Wylie in his The History of The Waldenses states, “Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.”

They are today the largest Protestant faith in Italy though the past popes had attempted to exterminate them for over 600 years. This persecution is what the end of the statement “he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death” is referring to.

But enough history!

If I were to be dragged before the Inquisition today, would my conduct and speech produce enough evidence to convict me of being a True Christian?

The Waldenses way of life and speech revealed that they were very different from the contemporary culture they lived in. Can you and I say that about our conduct today? Or do we just say one thing at church and just blend in with the wicked and immoral culture that surrounds us the rest of the time, laughing at the same dirty jokes, looking at the same filthy entertainment, hating and being unforgiving, our cruel and wicked speech revealing our cruel and wicked inner man instead of a Holy Spirit controlled new man in Christ?

The apostle Paul believed in examining yourself to make sure your following Christ’s example in conduct/teaching and not your religious, fleshly, sin nature. That is why he told Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16). We should heed his instructions.

Carl

Oh, Brother!

A friend recently told me of a friend of theirs who had a lady friend who was shocked to hear that Lord Jesus had brothers when He was living on earth. Having been raised Roman Catholic, she stated that she had never heard this before and was going to have to check this out.

To elevate Mary, the earthly, blessed mother of Jesus, to an unscriptural position she never sought, nor God ever intended for her to assume, men had to do away with His brothers so they could create doctrine that makes Mary a perpetual virgin, therefore, she could not have any children after Jesus.

But the New Testament read with simple faith and not with doctrinal blinders imposed by the ‘church’, plainly tells us in the following scriptures that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters: Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14 and Galatians 1:19.

In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 the brothers are even named: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.

James wrote the book of James in the New Testament and was believed by the apostle Paul to be the leader or bishop of the church in Jerusalem when he visited. Judas wrote the book of Jude in the New Testament. Simon was the later bishop of the Jerusalem church. All three were martyred for their faith in their resurrected half-brother, Jesus.

They were not cousins or children from Jospeh’s previous marriage. The Greek word used in these New Testament scriptures for ‘brother’ is adelphos meaning “from womb”. The Greek word cousin is anepsios signifying cousin.

So according to the New Testament in the Bible, Mary and Joseph had a large, happy family of at least seven children, maybe more if there were more than two sisters.

May you and your family be happy and fulfilled as they follow the true Jesus of the Bible.

Carl

Rocks and Keys

Former Jesuit priest Peter de Rosa writes, “All the councils of the church from Nicaea in the fourth century to Constance in the fifteenth agree that Christ himself is the only foundation of the church, that is, the Rock on which the church rests…the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between Matthew 16:18 and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyze it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys….[I]t was only in the year 1073 that Pope Gregory VII forbade Catholics to call anyone pope except the bishop of Rome. Before then, many bishops were fondly addressed as ‘pope’ or ‘papa.’…The first Bishop of Rome was not Peter…Eusebius never once spoke of Peter as Bishop of Rome…etc.”

So when did the church at large become the Roman Catholic Church in distinction to the true Christians which it persecuted and killed? There is no single date; it happened gradually. Yet the roots can be traced to Constantine (313-327), who while still Pontifex Maximus as head of the pagan priesthood became de facto head of the Church, was the first to call himself Vicar of Christ, and under whose influence the Church married the world. The paganism of today’s Roman Catholicism entered the church in the fourth century and today’s popes bear Constantine’s three titles: Bishop of Bishops, Pontifex Maximus, and Vicar of Christ.

Source: Dave Hunt’s Facebook Page

Is There New Evidence of Jewish Temple Treasure in The Vatican?

The Roman Forum, Relief from the Arch of Titus showing the triumphal procession after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Spoils from the Second temple in Jerusalem, including the seven branched candelabra, the silver trumpets and the Table of the Shewbread are carried. Italy. Roman. (Photo by Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Dear Reader: The following article is from the Jerusalem Post by Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff who is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. Enjoy. Carl

Pretend for a moment that the Vatican has in its possession some sacred and precious relics that were originally in the Herodian Jewish Temple located in Jerusalem 1,950 years ago.

If you were the pope living in the 14th century and could verify this fact, would you not ask yourself how indeed such Jewish artifacts had come to your residence in the first place?

After some digging around (no pun intended), you would have found that your new Vatican residence was actually built over sections of Caesar’s Palace – the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica, was constructed over Emperor Vespasian’s Roman palace approximately 200 years after the sacking of Rome in 455 AD. Indeed, there are excavations going on there right now, even as you read this magazine.

What this means is that the vandals and the Visigoths passed over, or simply didn’t find, the select treasures secreted away in that palace, and instead took with them the many items on public display in the Temple, located not far away.

It says in the Talmud that the famous Jewish sage and author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, went to Rome with his colleagues to nullify harsh decrees placed on Judea, and while there, saw the exact items mentioned in this article. They ended up being royal guests at Vespasian’s palace after being asked to attend to his ailing daughter. When they miraculously did heal her, the sages were afforded the chance to see these extremely holy items, proving that they were kept in that place.

In fact, historian Josephus Flavius records the event in which Vespasian took for himself these items specifically as his special treasures for safekeeping, including an ancient Torah scroll.

According to Vatican expert Dr. Michael A. Calvo, those vessels and others found their way to the Vatican via another route, after making their way to Byzantium: “These include Temple candelabra given to Pope Innocent III by Baldwin I after the sacking of Constantinople and the massacre of the Christian Orthodox population,” Calvo claims. “Temple shofars and utensils; garments of the High Priest; the Tzitz – a gold plaque with the words Kodesh L’Hashem (“Holy to the Lord”); cultural objects, and many other objets d’art, books and manuscripts that the Vatican and other churches have appropriated and placed in their own storerooms, libraries and museums.”

But where is the factual, tangible proof that the Vatican “inherited” these sacred items and retains them until today?

The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry and security services may already have evidence: about 50 years ago, there was a certain Jewish student – let’s call him DM – who was enrolled in a correspondence course at the Urbaniana, the Vatican’s university. Upon attending in person for the last semesters of his doctorate, he found himself the only Jew among 17,000 students! DM told me that he was well-loved, but when push came to shove, both professor and student approached him respectfully in order to convert him.

After firmly refusing time after time, a friend of his (later to become one of the Vatican archivists, Cardinal Antonio Samore) offered to show him what “used to be” his Jewish heritage – the Temple vessels – in an attempt to entice him to convert. DM agreed to be taken to see them months later, at night. When I asked him if there was anything in that cave that had belonged to the Temple, he simply replied: “Everything is there!”

Did he really see anything, or just come close? Many years later, in 2002, DM apparently gave sufficient proof to then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and others who were in negotiation with high-level Vatican officials at the time. If this is true, Israel may already have a solid, well-documented case.

So now what? Today in the 21st century there is a thriving sovereign State of Israel, being the sole worldwide representative of the Jewish people, or the World Jewish Congress, both being adequate addresses to make an arrangement for some sort of repatriation deal.

In the meantime, Roman Catholic relations with Israel are on the rise, dialogue and cooperation with the Jewish state are close, and there are even several Jews who have been knighted by recent popes. So why not negotiate over whatever there is now?

Before getting to that, however, let the thoughtful reader peruse through true stories suggesting that the Vatican does have much to hide?

ONE OF the greatest rabbis in his generation at the beginning of the 20th century was the chief rabbi of Libya, 77-year-old Rabbi Yitzchak Chai Bozovka, an expert in all areas of Torah both hidden and revealed who authored many outstanding books. In 1929, Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuel III came to Tripoli for a royal visit. Libya was then under Italian rule, and the Jews of the city made a huge banquet reception, indeed fit for a king, with their beloved chief rabbi at the forefront.

Rabbi Bozovka made quite an impression on the monarch, and before the king set sail back to Rome, he invited the rabbi to attend the wedding of his son, the prince. A year later, the rabbi received the royal invitation, but declined to go due to being weak, although he did add the question, “Why am I needed though when you have the pope?”

Within 48 hours, the king sent a telegram back stating not to worry, and that he very badly wanted the rabbi to bless the new couple (again). He offered to send him his royal boat, give him all the kosher food and accommodations that were required, and even signed it: Your Friend, the King. The rabbi reluctantly agreed. When he arrived in Rome, he was treated like royalty and the wedding was a huge success.

As the ceremonies came to an end, the king asked the rabbi if there was anything he could do for him. Bozovka responded that he so desired to see the holy vessels of the Jewish Temple in the cellars of the Vatican. When the king first heard this, he refused, saying that there is a separation of church and state, and that he didn’t have jurisdiction over the pope in these matters. The two didn’t exactly get along!

Nevertheless, after much prodding, the king went ahead and managed to convince the pope (making him an offer he couldn’t refuse), but on the condition that it was only the rabbi alone. That day he was even invited to the Holy See for a personal audience with the pontiff.

Late that night, and after much spiritual preparation, the rabbi met the guard at the Vatican gates, with his students remaining outside, and went down the steps (four stories under St. Peter’s Museum) to a hidden maze of ancient galleries attached to the Necropolis. After finally reaching the cave entrance, he saw what he saw, and writes in his book of Responsa that he saw “enough,” and was not capable of seeing anymore. He then turned around and practically ran out of the building.

Upon exiting, his students were shocked to find that his face was actually shining. From that day forth, the rabbi took it upon himself to abstain from speaking, until he died on February 21, 1930, 40 days later.

Another story, about the famous Rabbi Benjamin (ben Yonah) of Tudela, a Jewish merchant from modern Navarre in Spain. He spent significant time in Rome after the election of Pope Alexander III in 1159, and again from November 1165 until 1167. His mission was to record the lifestyle of Sephardi Jews across Europe and Africa. His travels took him from Spain to France, Italy, Turkey, and the Near East, including Beirut and Jerusalem. A well-known Iberian traveler, he kept complete and extremely accurate records in his travelogue, as noted by his contemporaries. When the rabbi passed through Rome in the 1160s, he noted the “honorable position” of the city’s Jewish population, as well as the “wonderful buildings” there.

Was he credible, though? Evidently, the commentators on this work held their subject in high esteem. A commentator that translated the itinerary in 1840, A. Asher, had glowing praise for Rabbi Benjamin: “The whole work abounds in interesting, correct and authentic information on the state of the three-quarters of the globe known at this time, and in consideration of these advantages, stands without a rival in the literary history of the Middle Ages. None of the productions of the period is as free from fables and superstitions as The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela.”

Tudela wrote, “Rome is the head of the kingdoms of Christendom, and there live about 200 (families of) Jews, who are respected and who pay no tax to anyone.” And now folks for the meat and potatoes: “In Rome, there is… the cave where Titus the son of Vespasian stored the Temple vessels that he brought from Jerusalem.”

This was before popes took up residence in the late 1300s at the Vatican. It appears that indeed, vandals didn’t run off with the whole hoard after all.

There is an old picture in my possession of that mysterious corridor in front of the cave, replete with creepy skeletal people embalmed to this day, 50 on each side, and showing the huge, arched wooden door at the end. This picture was taken at least 50 years ago with the custodian guard wearing all black and holding a lantern, essentially attesting to Tudela’s account.

RABBI DAVID ROSEN, international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, has a different approach. Rosen – who headed the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), the broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations and denominations that represents world Jewry in its relations with other world religions – was granted a papal knighthood in 2005 for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic reconciliation.

He was also chosen to lead the famous 2013 prayer service with the pope, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres at the Vatican. Rosen suggests approaching various museums in Israel that already had exhibitions of Vatican art and archaeology (which had come from Israel originally), and suggesting a loan arrangement for a limited period, to display some ancient vessels of their choice.

This would constitute a win/win for both parties, and would certainly be a major event! Rosen cautions that the whole idea of restoring artifacts of cultural or religious heritage back to their countries of origin is a complex one that must take into account the interests of the country that currently possesses the artifacts, among other things.

Can, or more importantly, should Israel make use of today’s international laws of repatriation? This can be considered as well, but then uncomfortable issues are bound to arise. For instance, in this age of political correctness, the following might have to be addressed: are the Jewish people still the legitimate owners of this ancient treasure?

What about replacement theology? Could it be that after 2000 years, behind closed doors, the ownership of these historical religious artifacts is being debated and disputed? The same way, for instance, that the legal ownership of Jerusalem is debated and disputed? I say, yes!

This is not just food for thought. Believe it or not, and with all due respect, I have reason to suggest here (without getting into detail) that this is part and parcel of a new attitude and approach, an indication of what’s really being discussed in the long corridors of Rome, the United Nations, the EU and also the PA. It even has a name: Lawfare.

Here’s a case in point: Not long ago, Abbas had a personal consultation with Pope Francis. After agreeing that the two-state solution was the only way forward to make peace with Israel, Abbas stated that with respect to the advent of a Palestinian capital, “Jerusalem’s identity must be preserved through a special internationally guaranteed status.” In other words, the territory that used to belong to the Jewish people so long ago does not necessarily mean that it belongs to Israel today, according to Abbas. There’s more.

The official liaison of the pope to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, stated in an official letter dated November 15, 2013, that if the Temple treasures do in fact still exist, surely the church would return those lost items to their “legitimate owners.” Let that sink in a bit.

I’m willing to make a wager that as sure as the sun rises in the east, if Vatican officials were to claim that they own it all (having acted as paternal preservationists, as it were), and that the treasure would theoretically be kept in a “Vatican Jewish museum” somewhere, everything would change. Indeed, this is in fact Plan B: no more need for the Vatican to ignore the elephant in the room; diplomatic evasion no longer required. And yes, at that point, I’m sure that the chief Prefect would take whatever they have out for all of humanity to see.

Let’s be clear, though. Plan A isn’t politically correct but in this author’s view it’s the truth, that this vast treasure was, is now, and will always be Jewish, with its home ultimately in Jerusalem, the united capital of Israel.

At the end of the day though, the proof is in the gelato. There are several people alive that can personally attest to being eyewitnesses of the Vatican possessing Temple vessels, including the Menorah candelabra. Will any one of them come forward and expose what they know (along with themselves)? No, and I quite frankly don’t blame them. That might be unwise. It doesn’t end here though, because if this were in a judicial court setting (and it isn’t), the majority would agree that there is enough information already on file to have reasonable, or “justifiable cause” to move forward. What this means in our case is that making that museum deal is starting to look better and better.

After over 25 years of research into the whereabouts of the lost Temple treasures, more Vatican details have been included in my book series, The A.R.K. Report, including the existence of the oldest (and very fragile) Torah scroll taken from the Temple building, the golden head plate of the high priest with the holy name of God engraved on it (tzitz in Hebrew), the giant curtain that hung from the Temple entrance (parohet in Hebrew) that still has the tear from Titus’ sword in it, trumpets, and various other ritual (copper) altar utensils to boot, as mentioned previously, and documented by Josephus.

Thirty-five years ago, a certain outstanding Swiss Vatican guard (now legally blind) who was posted close to the dormitories found out that he was in fact Jewish. This inspired him to decide to open the gate at night and make his way all the way down. He speaks of walking right to the end and finding a narrow, cramped tunnel that leads to a room of statues, a mysterious hallway and then the cave where he saw (and apparently nearly touched) the Menorah candelabra, apparently shining with a white light. The next morning he apparently told the whole tale to the chief rabbi of Rome at the time, Rabbi Elio Toaff, who was known to have testified to its truth.

But back down to business! The main concern now really lies on the political level. In 2022, far from being outrageous or insulting, approaching the Holy See with the museum idea whereby the Vatican retains ownership and sends a display of certain ancient Temple items to Jerusalem presents a brilliant idea. This is an international trend nowadays. Most people realize that there’s no sense in holding onto precious items that are in a sense for all humanity in a cellar or cave somewhere.

However, if the Holy See feels that the time is not yet ripe for such a gesture, things might get a little messier.

Some arbitrary ruling may come forth from the powers that be (think UN Security Council Resolution #2334) designating, in this case the lost Temple vessels, as something other than Jewish and therefore should stay put. Although the status quo vis-à-vis the hidden Temple treasures has remained in-situ for millennia, one can assume that it won’t go on like that forever. Either way, like in the case of Jerusalem, decisions will eventually be made with or without the consent of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

If things do work out with the Vatican, great! Now’s the time, and testimonies of various forms are coming in, all with the message that it’s high time that the Jews brought their pride and glory back home.

In the meantime, a team of lawyers and ambassadors associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) are joining me in this undertaking, as I meet up with the Department of World Religions at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Papal Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana.  My aim, ultimately, is to identify the sacred items mentioned above at the Vatican by cross-referencing them with the earliest acquisitions of the Vatican (including 12th-13th century) as they appear in their original inventory listings.

It’s interesting to note that this manifest can be found in the Papal Secret Archive located behind a heavy door at the end of a corridor on the lower floor in the Tower of the Winds (originally built in 1578). Only the chief prefect has this key. This inventory list actually predates the time when the popes first used the Vatican as a place of residence, beginning in 1377.

If things don’t work out with the Vatican, that’s not so great. The State of Israel, therefore, should start preparing a legal repatriation case arguing that the ancient Temple artifacts, wherever they may lie, fully belong in Jerusalem as the everlasting national heritage of the Jewish people. Unless this happens, we might have to face a new reality coming down from those long corridors sometime soon. 

Now let’s finish off with something BIG, something not known before, something new, that has added impulse to this whole undertaking. There have been many stories written about this subject matter before, but none has tackled the fact that up to 10 incense shovels have been found in Israel over the many years of biblical archaeology here. I know because I’ve held them in my hands:  2,000 year-old bronze (now green, of course!) shovels that are about 40 cm long that can still be used today!  They were found all over Israel, from Jerusalem in the region of the Temple area itself, to cities near Tiberias in the north and on the shores of the Kinneret.  

They all have one thing in common.  They belonged to the various synagogues that were in Israel during the late Roman period, some perhaps being consecrated for the Temple itself!  Many of these treasures were sent abroad to places such as Abu Dhabi, South Korea, and Singapore, while others went to Rome (acquired by the Vatican), and even Beverly Hills. They fit the description of the machtah (incense shovels) perfectly, being the same size and shape of those utensils that were used by the priests in the Herodian Temple, as described in the Talmud.  

Why does this matter? Because it turns out that the Vatican is party to some of the international conventions regarding restitution and repatriation of ancient cultural artifacts to their original countries of origin. 

This particular item would not prove difficult to find in the Vatican inventory list on my upcoming trip to Rome, where I would learn not only how many they have, but the location as to where exactly they are being kept.  ■

Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. He can be reached at office@harryhmoskoff.net

Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther and Three Catholic Priest

What do Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, and three former Roman Catholic priests all have in common? These devout religious leaders all came to discover God’s righteousness.

There is a huge chasm between God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness. So which of those two things makes a person a child of God and an heir of eternal life in Heaven? (Romans 8:17).

God’s righteousness is always perfect, whereas man’s righteousness is always imperfect. God’s righteousness can cover your sins and make you right with God. Man’s righteousness leaves a person separated from God forever. 

Saul of Tarsus “was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of his own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers” (Galatians 1:14). After his conversion, Saul became the Apostle Paul who no longer relied upon his own righteousness to be right with God. Zeal for religious traditions is very different than zeal for the Gospel. 

Prior to his conversion, Saul was “a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5,6). He came to learn the massive difference between legalistic righteousness and God’s righteousness.

Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk who discovered the same thing 500 years ago. Luther was constantly striving to save his soul. He endured many self-inflicted punishments in his efforts to atone for his sins and be accepted by God. Luther felt he had to work his way to Heaven by his own righteousness.

Thankfully, God spoke to Luther through the Gospel, and particularly this passage: “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In other words, the righteousness of God is applied to your soul when you trust Jesus as your Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

Joseph Tremblay was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1924. He was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy, and was sent to Bolivia, Chile, where he served for 13 years. He said, “My theology has taught me that salvation is by works and sacrifices. My theology gives me no assurance of salvation; the Bible offers me that assurance. I had been trying to save myself on my works. I was pushed to do good works to merit my salvation.”

While serving as a Catholic priest, Tremblay was relying upon human righteousness. But when he placed his faith in the Gospel promises found in Scripture, he discovered God’s righteousness. The righteousness of man cannot save a single soul. Even if you combined the good works of one million religious people, it would not provide enough righteousness to prevent one lost soul from going to Hell.

Bartholomew F. Brewer was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in Washington, D.C. He eventually served as a priest in San Diego, California, and entered the Navy as a Roman Catholic chaplain. He left the Catholic Church, got married, and discovered God’s righteousness through conversations with his wife and other Christians.

Brewer said, “I finally understood that I had been relying on my own righteousness and religious efforts and not upon the completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion had never taught me that our own righteousness is fleshly and not acceptable to God, nor that we need to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone … during all those years of monastic life I had relied on the sacraments of Rome to give me grace to save me.”

“The completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful historical fact and beautiful spiritual absolute! When you place your faith in what Jesus completed on the cross, you are justified, redeemed, born again, saved and forgiven. When Martin Luther finally placed his faith in Christ alone, he said, “I felt that I had been born again and that the gates of Heaven had been opened. The whole of Scripture gained a new meaning.”

The Gospel is the key that unlocks the Bible and ushers a person into the kingdom of God. The Law tells us what we must do. The Gospel tells us what Christ did on the cross to save us. “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Alexander Carson was ordained in 1955 and was a priest in Alexandria, Louisiana. Carson said, “… the Holy Spirit led me to judge Roman Catholic theology by the standard of the Bible. Previously, I had always judged the Bible by Roman Catholic doctrine and theology.” In order to learn the truth about God’s righteousness, it was necessary for this priest to rely completely upon Scripture as the basis of true theology.

Do you rely completely upon Scripture, or is your religious organization more important to you than the Gospel? Whether your religious affiliation is Protestant, Catholic, or something else, the Gospel (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-8) stands head and shoulders above your particular religious organization.

Religious traditions do not cover a sinner with the righteousness of Christ. This covering for sin only takes place when a person places their faith in the sacrifice Christ made on the cross 2,000 years ago. It was a one-time sacrifice. Paul wrote, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law” (Romans 3:28). “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). That is, those who rely upon their own righteousness in order to enter Heaven are under a curse and on the road to Hell. 

The “righteousness from God” (Romans 3:21) is the only righteousness that can justify a sinner. Christians are saved on the front end of their relationship with Christ, before they have done even one good work. Christ’s righteousness is what produces good works in the life of a believer. God only accepts the good works of those who are already righteous in His eyes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Am I doing good works in a vain attempt to earn forgiveness and be saved, or am I doing good works because I have already been saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone? I hope you recognize the vast difference between man’s righteousness and God’s righteousness, and why only Christ’s righteousness can save your soul. 

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

(Check out my CP op-ed, “A Proposal for Catholics and Protestants.”)

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

Source: Christian Post

Free Audio Book Recommendation

I am currently listening to several FREE audio books from The Berean Call and would like to recommend them for your consideration. They are also available as podcast, and I believe they are available on YouTube.

The Berean Call is a Christian biblical discernment ministry out of Bend, Oregon, USA founded by Dave Hunt. Brother Hunt, along with Ed Decker, authored The God Makers (1997) which is a shocking expose of what the Mormon church really believes. After Mr. Hunt went to be with the Lord, T.A. Mahon assumed the leadership. He and Mr. Hunt authored several books together such as The Seduction of Christianity (2013). Mr. Mahon is a former Roman Catholic.

I listen to the following books using The Berean Call’s free app. They also have a free newsletter for those that may be interested.

The audio books are

  1. A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt – the following description from Apple Podcast:

“In Revelation 17, the Apostle John describes in great detail the characteristics of a false church that will be the partner of the Antichrist. Was he describing the Roman Catholic Church? To answer that question, Dave Hunt spent years gathering research and indisputable historical documentation (primarily Catholic sources) providing information not generally available.

Are you missing half the story about the last days? Virtually all attention these days is focused on the coming Antichrist—but he is only half the story. Many are amazed to discover in Revelation 17 that there is also another mysterious character at the heart of prophecy—a woman who rides the beast.

Who is this woman? Tradition says she is connected with the church of Rome. But isn’t such a view outdated? After all, today’s Vatican is eager to join hands with Protestants worldwide. “The Catholic church has changed,” is what we hear.

Or has it? In A Woman Rides the Beast, prophecy expert Dave Hunt sifts through biblical truth and global events to present a well-defined portrait of the woman and her powerful place in the Antichrist’s future empire. Eight remarkable clues in Revelation 17 and 18 prove the woman’s identity beyond any reasonable doubt.”

  1. What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt – the following description is taken from Apple podcast:

“Many sincere, Bible-believing Christians are “Calvinists” only by default. Thinking that the only choice is between Calvinism (with its presumed doctrine of eternal security) and Arminianism (with its teaching that salvation can be lost), and confident of Christ’s promise to keep eternally those who believe in Him, they therefore consider themselves to be Calvinists.

It takes only a few simple questions to discover that most Christians are largely unaware of what John Calvin and his early followers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries actually believed and practiced. Nor do they fully understand what most of today’s leading Calvinists believe.

Although there are disputed variations of the Calvinist doctrine, among its chief proponents (whom we quote extensively in context) there is general agreement on certain core beliefs. Many evangelicals who think they are Calvinists will be surprised to learn of Calvin’s belief in salvation through infant baptism, and of his grossly un-Christian behavior, at times, as the “Protestant Pope” of Geneva, Switzerland.

Most shocking of all, however is Calvinism’s misrepresentation of God who “is love.” It is our prayer that this volume will enable readers to examine more carefully the vital issues involved and to follow God’s Holy Word — not man.”

  1. East Wind by Ruth Hunt – the true story of Maria Zeitner Linke, a German Christian, who was born in Russia prior to the Russian Revolution and, after her family escapes Siberia and returns to Germany, they endure World War II and she spends nine years in Stalin’s Gulags.

These are only three of the many free audio books offered. If you are looking for a book to listen to, I hope you can find something in their offerings.

Thank you for stopping by the blog! I hope you are enjoying sweet, daily fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Carl

Progressive Christianity: Trading Sola Scriptura for Prima Scriptura

TBC: “Prima Christianity” “has other sources of divine revelation” such as “the ‘Holy Spirit,’ created order, traditions, charismatic gifts, mystical insight, angelic visitations, conscience, common sense, the views of experts, the spirit of the times or something else.” For the full article, please click the link below.]

During the sixteenth century battle between the reformers and the Roman Catholic church, the reformers developed the Five Solas which demonstrated their core beliefs in contrast to the Catholic Church from whom they were separating. The first of the five was Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone. Over the preceding centuries, Rome had developed a tradition that placed the teaching magisterium (College of Cardinals) in union with the Pope, as the final authority for faith and practice. As we point out in “Thus Saith Rome,” the view of the Roman Catholic Church was and continues to be that Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, which we also believe. However, in addition, the Roman Catholic Church held that their church tradition is likewise inspired by the Holy Spirit, and both sources are on an equal par with one another. Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church held that the College of Cardinals in conjunction with the Pope is the only authentic, infallible interpreter of Scripture and tradition. This allowed Rome to have continually evolving doctrines, far removed from what the scriptures actually teach. We have a short sampling of the effects of Prima Scriptura – the Roman Catholic position – showing some of the changing doctrines of Rome since the 4th Century
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Interestingly, this position of evolving doctrine also tends to be the view of today’s Progressives. One of the major areas this impacts for Progressives is morality and human sexuality. We touched on this a bit in “Is Progressive Christianity Christian?” Progressives want to be viewed as Christian and see the need to include the Bible and a modified Jesus in their faith in some way for credibility and validation. Prima Scriptura provides the vehicle through which “mystical insight,” “the views of experts, the spirit of the times or something else” is given a heavy hand in assessing “truth,” apart from –and overriding – the clear teachings of scripture on a given subject.

For the last 8-10 years, The Reformation Project, founded by Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, has been making a concerted effort to replace the clear teaching of the word of God with an experience, “the views of experts, the spirit of the times or something else” as inspired truth equal or even superior to Scripture. Jennifer Hatmaker, who shocked much of the evangelical church in 2016 when she called for full inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in the church, is a speaker at the 2021 Reconcile and Reform National Conference put on by The Reformation Project. The title of both the conference and the organization is clear. However, unlike The Reformation of the 16th century, this reformation is not to bring the church back to the Word of God as the final authority for faith and practice, but to “reform” the church in the opposite direction, embracing Prima Scriptura in order to reconcile and embrace LGBTQ+ as acceptable and pleasing to God. They do claim to be a “Bible-based, Christian organization,” but the Bible is definitely not the final authority for faith and practice, for them or Jen Hatmaker.

The Progressive leaders at The Reformation Project assert, “The Christian tradition doesn’t address sexual orientation.” Notice they do not claim or even hint that sexual activity isn’t discussed in Scripture or the writings of the early church. Instead, they sanction LGBTQ+ based upon “the views of experts, the spirit of the times or something else.” They implicitly admit additional revelation “for what a believer should believe and how they should live” when they write: “Affirming Christians are not overturning the Christian tradition on LGBTQ people. Until recent decades, there has been no Christian tradition on LGBTQ people.”

This is misleading at best. Indeed, we don’t find LGBTQ, with or without the +, in either scripture or church dogma. The term had not yet been invented. So, although the words in current usage are not found, the teaching on these behaviors most definitely is. The Scriptures and church tradition are very clear – sex outside of the marriage of a male and female is sin. That includes adultery, fornication, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and more.

The LGBTQ+ issue is rather a prominent flashpoint in our time. But there are many ways that people of our age are attempting to justify their behavior, to turn right and wrong upside down. Self-justification is a deadly pursuit in the end, and so useless. It’s not a matter of good people vs bad people, because everyone has transgressed God’s standards. There are no “good people” in their own right. (Romans 3:10) Jesus Christ is the only One who never transgressed God’s perfect standard. Christians are people who believe (about themselves) what God says is true and gladly accept His gift of a pardon. Without God’s loving provision on our behalf, no one would be considered by God as “righteous.” God justifies those who believe that He has saved them, through absolutely no goodness of their own.

The scripture teaches there is a Day when God will judge mankind based upon His Holy standards. It’s rather appropriately called “Judgement Day.” Any person whose name is not written in the Lamb’s (Jesus’s) Book of Life shall stand before God in that Judgment. (Revelation 20:11-15)

A person’s only hope for eternity lies not in challenging God’s clear position of right and wrong, but in reconciling him or herself to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. How will one come to God and accept His full pardon if he refuses to acknowledge his or her sin? We beg of you today to give up the fight of prideful self-justification and accept God’s gracious pardon.
https://midwestoutreach.org/2021/10/28/progressive-christianity-trading-sola-scriptura-for-prima-scriptura/

Source: The Berean Call

What I’ve Learned Rescuing My Daughter from Transgender Fantasy

gender, trans

My daughter’s story is no longer novel. Stories like it are occurring in your state, your town, and perhaps even on your street. Gender dysphoria — the incongruence between the mind and the body — moves stealthily and quickly to invade girls and boys alike.

But this isn’t a cautionary tale. It’s a warning.

My daughter was an ultrafeminine girl since birth. She insisted that her room be painted pink, and she refused to wear anything but dresses until third grade. She avoided her older brother’s toys and sports, choosing tea sets and Shopkins, a series of tiny, collectible toys.

Her favorite activity was to slip into my closet and don my few sparkly clothes and shiniest of heels. She rejected sports in favor of art and sewing.

That all abruptly changed when she turned 12. As her body matured into young womanhood, she stopped begging for a bikini and avoided any clothing that accentuated her figure. She hid her breasts under men’s extra-large sweatshirts.

I remembered doing similar things as my body changed, so I didn’t worry at first.

Then, my daughter immersed herself into anime art and cosplaying, the hobby of dressing like fantastical characters. I supported her creative side.

I didn’t know that anime and cosplaying can overwhelm a young mind. I didn’t know that anime and cosplaying involved gender-bending themes and that the community crosses into pedophilic and sexual themes.

I also didn’t know that the older cosplay community groomed the younger cohorts. 

During that same time period, my daughter went through Teen Talk — a Manitoba, Canada-based program that says it provides “youth with accurate, [nonjudgmental] information” on “sexuality, reproductive health, body image, substance use awareness, mental health, issues of diversity, and anti-violence issues” — at her public school.

She came home with a whole new language. She and all her girlfriends discussed their labels — polyamorous, lesbian, pansexual. None of the five girls chose “basic,” their term for a straight girl. 

Now, I was worried.

She distanced herself from her old friends and spent more time online. I checked her phone, but I was not astute enough to know that she had set up “appropriate” fake social media accounts for my viewing.

An older girl showed romantic interest in her. I barred that girl from our home.  I learned later that she had molested my daughter.

When my daughter was in the eighth grade, as a Christmas gift, I took her to SacAnime, an anime convention in Sacramento, California. There, she met a girl three years her senior, but light years more mature. That girl mesmerized my daughter with her edginess or magnanimous personality. 

The older girl went by “they.” After their meeting, my daughter got a boy’s haircut, stopped shaving, and asked for boys’ underwear. My daughter parroted everything about the older teen.

She started making gross TikTok videos, her language became vulgar and she redecorated her room to look like a cave. She self-pierced her nose with one of those bull rings. She broke every family rule. She was morphing into an emo-Goth-vampirelike creature.  She was unrecognizable. Her personality descended into anger and rudeness. 

The summer before ninth grade, she announced that she was transgender. Post-announcement, she began to threaten suicide. She sunk into deep depression.

I managed to get all of her passwords to all of her social media accounts. What I saw was jaw-dropping.  

Almost everyone that she was conversing with was a stranger, except for the SacAnime friend, who sent her a self-made masturbation video. The discussions on the Discord platform online involved fetishistic sexual conversations. Kids were sending each other erotica, including involving incest and pedophilia.

Older girls were instructing younger girls how to sell nude photos of themselves to men for money.

Girls bragged about their different mental illnesses. They talked about which drugs do what. They talked about how they are really boys, not girls. They discussed “top surgery” (that is, having their breasts removed) and “packers” that create a bulge in one’s pants to imply the presence of a penis.

My daughter’s electronic devices were filled with TikTok videos and YouTubers talking about how great they feel now that they had “transitioned.”

There were messages in which strangers told her to kick my head in because I was a “transphobe” for refusing to call her a male name.

I went nuclear. I took the phone and stripped it of all social media — YouTube, Instagram, Discord, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter. I even blocked her ability to get to the internet. I deleted all of her contacts and changed her phone number.

I sat next to her while she “attended” school online via Zoom. I deleted YouTube from the smart TVs and locked up the remotes. I took every anime book from her room. I threw away all of her costumes. I banned any friend who was even the slightest bit unsavory.

I involved the police about the porn. I printed out the law and informed her that if anyone sent her porn, I would not hesitate to prosecute.

She hated me like an addict hates the person preventing her drug fix. I held my ground, despite the constant verbal abuse.

After going through seven mental health professionals, I found an out-of-state psychiatrist who was willing to examine the causality for my daughter’s sudden trans identity.

I immersed myself in reading everything on the issue, talking to other parents and other professionals. I worked unceasingly to re-create the bond she and I used to share. 

After a year and half of utter hell, my daughter is finally returning to her authentic self — a beautiful, artsy, kind and loving daughter.

I am not sure what the actual ingredients for the magic potion were for alleviating gender dysphoria in my daughter. The formula will vary, but what I did was, after a very brief misstep of using a male name, our family and all of the adults in my child’s life only used her birth name and corresponding pronouns.

We did not permit social transition, although we could not control the school setting. Unbelievably, our local Catholic high school refused to follow our edict. 

As I mentioned previously, we pulled the plug on all social media and her access to anyone other than those persons we vetted. I forced my daughter to listen to specific podcasts on the subject while driving her to school. I printed out stories about female de-transitioners (women who had medicalized, but then regretted their actions and returned to living as a woman) and left them throughout the house. 

I left all of my research out in plain view, including Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail ShrierGender Dysphoria: A Therapeutic Model for Working With Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults by Susan Evans, and other books.

I followed the advice of Parents for Ethical Care’s podcasts and the book “Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult” by Maria Keffler.

I worked hard to take back the close relationship my daughter and I had once had. I bit my tongue until it bled. I took her anger and only responded with love or walked away when I knew I would respond poorly.

I caught her in vulnerable moments and hugged her or climbed into her bed. I stopped looking at her as though she were the victim of a scheme or a monster.

I let her know that I would never stop fighting for her. I let her see my posters from the protests I attended. I peppered her with questions that demonstrated the illogic of the gender ideology. I happened to have funny gender-critical memes on my computer when she walked into my office. Most importantly, I held my ground. I refused to accept her delusion with compassion.

I know that I have to continue to be tenacious as the gender ideology has crept into every facet of life. But for now, I can breathe a sigh of relief. 


Originally published at The Daily Signal.   

Charlie Jacobs is the pen name of a California wife and mother of two teenagers. Until recently, she worked part time in a professional capacity, but is now dedicated to educating other parents about how gender ideology can overtake a child.

From Christian Post – December 16, 2021

Evangelical families in Mexico lose access to water, services for refusing to deny their faith

Two evangelical families in central Mexico have been threatened with being cut off from essential services or expelled from the community if they continue to refuse to deny their faith and pay a fine illegally levied against them, according to a report.

The families of Nemesio Cruz Hernández and Eligio Santiago Hernández, who are from the First Baptist Church in the La Mesa Limantitla area in Hidalgo state’s Huejutla de los Reyes Municipality, were threatened during a community meeting on Monday, the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.

At the meeting, the evangelical families were forbidden to even speak as they were threatened.

On Aug. 3, community leaders, identified as Jose Marcos Martínez and Julio Alvarado Hernández, had made similar threats and instructed them to stop holding worship services in the home of Bartolo Martínez Hernández, who was also fined for allowing services in his house.

In January 2019, many evangelical families were forced to sign an agreement renouncing their faith. While eight families signed it, the families of Cruz Hernández and Santiago Hernández refused to do so.

The community leaders then blocked the two families’ access to water, sewer services, government benefit programs and the community mill for over a year until they were forced to sign an extra-legal agreement on Jan. 15, 2020, in which they renounced their right to hold religious services.

The agreement said each family would be ordered to pay an illegal fine of $3,000 ($57,700 Mexican pesos). State authorities paid part of the fine, but the families have continued to be threatened with forced displacement in several follow-up meetings throughout 2020 and this year, CSW said, adding that the amount of the fine is based on the costs incurred by community leaders in their efforts to halt any investigation into crimes or human rights violations associated with the case.

In Mexico, such extra-legal agreements are often used in lieu of appropriate justice mechanisms when the rights of religious minorities are violated.

The state officials must intervene “as a matter of urgency,” CSW’s Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl, said. “If the state government refuses to protect the rights of religious minorities, the federal government must intervene.” Stangl added: “The government, at both state and federal levels, must address the culture of impunity which has allowed violations like these to go unchecked for far too long, ensuring that families like those of Mr. Cruz Hernández and Mr. Santiago Hernández are free to practice any religion or belief of their choosing without being forced to pay illegal fines or facing pressure to renounce their beliefs under threat of criminal actions including the cutting of basic services and forced displacement.”

This is not a one-off incident of Christian persecution in Mexico, which has risen due to drug cartel violence, persecution by traditionalist Catholics and violent discrimination by anti-Christian left-wing groups, Open Doors USA previously reported.

“Last year, Mexico was [No. 52 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List]. It’s jumped up a bunch,” Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry told The Christian Post in an earlier interview. “That would most certainly be around the issues of violence and drug cartels.”

Traditionalist Catholics often persecute Mexican Christians, too, he said. In this way, they resemble many small, rural groups of people practicing ancient folk religions around the world. Open Doors calls this kind of persecution “clan violence.”

“These rural indigenous groups see Christian churches as an outside force. They can harass and bother churches and believers who might be in the community,” Curry said. “It’s within these four states in Mexico: Chiapas, Hidalgo, Guerero, Oaxaca. It’s very localized.”

Source: Christian Post

Hammers on an Anvil

Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chimes;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn out with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he and then with twinkling eye, 
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know?"
And so I thought, the anvil of God's Word
For ages skeptics' blows have beat upon.
Yet, though the sound of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed, the hammers are gone.

John Clifford

“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” Peter – I Peter 1:24-25

Wise Advice

“Stick close to the exercise of Repentance, till the end of thy life, and never think of obtaining pardon “ab humano die”(from the human), because he who has made thee make this Promise, has deceived thee.  As thou hast properly sinned against the Lord, so seek thy Remedy only at his hand.”

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan 374 AD – quoted in Bishop Nicea of Aquileia (420-485 AD) Book “ab Virginem lap-sam” – quoted in Some Remarks Upon Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont by P. Allix D.D. – London, 1690

A Historical Perspective On Church Growth

The rise of monasticism did much to pull the Western Roman church back to spiritual purity, personal holiness, and devotion to Christ. On the other hand, monasticism had many questionable practices and perspectives that border on the extreme of fanatical asceticism for asceticism’s sake. The drive for things like isolation, silence, and mystical experiences are a curious contrasts to Jesus’ call to go and make disciples and engage with sinners in a fallen world.

The laity’s esteem and veneration of a monk’s lifestyle only cemented the perception that true spirituality is reserved for a special class of believers. One has to wonder: If the church had maintained its early and fierce devotion to Christ’s commands to love God and neighbor and to make disciples of all nations -instead of becoming secularized – would monasticism ever had come about as it did? In The Way – Church As We Know It – Damian Gerke

Dear Saint: Cooperate with the Spirit of Almighty God that indwells you. Be all you can be in Christ for your sake and the sake of the lost. Bring your salvation to its ultimate conclusion, Christ-likeness, so you can be light in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation which desperately needs the Savior’s message of redemption. (Phil. 2:12-16)

We should not lock our light away. He intends for it to be on a stand for all to see.

May grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus be upon each one.

Carl

UFOs, Hyperspace and The Unseen Realm

Years ago I remember talking to a man who was concerned about the environmental future of planet Earth. He was an intelligent, highly educated medical research doctor, and a firm atheist. His “hope” for humanity rested in the colonization of space. He seriously suggested that the planet Mars could be made to support life by exploding nuclear bombs at its poles, breaking up the ice detected there, and somehow creating a life-supporting environment!

This was his faith – his faith, in spite of the fact that the Martian atmosphere consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide and is very thin. Atmospheric pressure is 5,000 times less than that of the Earth’s. Temperatures are much too cold, averaging more than 58 degrees Fahrenheit below zero!

But evolution predicts that life has occurred throughout the Universe “accidentally”, with many different routes toward the culmination of intelligent life. The different imaginations of intelligent life, evolving through different chemistries along different paths – such as those found in the science fiction of Star Wars – should be evident all around us.

This medical research doctor wanted something to hope for other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, there is no personal hope in his scenario, only a collective hope that mankind would be able to continue “evolving” on another planet.

Because of our pride and determined resistance to our Maker, mankind tries to hope for anything that makes us humans the hero. We search for anything that makes no mention of sin and the moral justice required by a Holy God. If human life had somehow been planted on Earth by visiting space aliens in time past, there would be no standard of morality which an all-knowing Creator would require of His “image-bearers”. This absence of accountability to our Creator is the attraction – and temptation – which evolution presents, including the outgrowth idea of space-aliens as “seeding” life on Earth and “guiding” mankind through the “wise men” of history.

Evolution does away with a Creator. At best, there are only “lesser gods” – much like ourselves – that could be “extraterrestrial”. They would be members of the space-time Universe further along the evolutionary ladder in their evolved planetary systems.

Currently this summer, a report is being issued by the U.S. government on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs, aka UFOs). The report includes decades of “incidents” reported by the U.S. military, noting that many are not of American origin.

But the report does not rule out foreign or extraterrestrial origins. So, its conclusions become another incentive for national security, and for more global government!

“We must defend ourselves against another Cold War-type threat of hypersonic weapons that may be able to go in and out of extra-dimensional space” – “hyperspace”, as the science fiction of Star Wars popularized. “Who knows? Extra-terrestrial life may be spying on us, and it might be unfriendly!” There are, indeed, so many things to fear and obsess about if we don’t know the Lord and keep looking to Him!

Hyperspace, in theory, is a set of extra dimensions beyond the three spatial dimensions that we experience daily. These extra dimensions are presumably able to connect distant points in real space and allow for faster-than-light speeds across the Universe. In the Star Wars movies, the characters would cross into “hyperspace drive” to travel quickly in their spacecraft. It’s pure science fiction – just like space aliens.

But the idea of “extra dimensions” carries an important biblical truth: “Interdimensional entities” are a reality! They are beings which can cross from one set of dimensions to another. The Bible – throughout its pages – speaks of angels, fallen angels, demons and the Spirit of God as moving between the four-dimensional time-space continuum (the physical world we live in) and a spiritual dimension that is unseen and unlimited by the space-time Universe.

For example, in Genesis 6 we are told how fallen angels interacted with mankind (inter-dimensionally) to bring a thorough corruption which helped lead to the Great Flood of Noah. Jude, the epistles of Peter, and the apocryphal books of Enoch elaborate on this. Psalm 82 discusses how God stands in a congregation where “He judgeth among the gods (elohim)”, who are being rebuked for ruling with corruption.

These are arguably the “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6) which, in the study of angels, are power-player beings over the nations in collusion with Satan. This corruption of the nations, of course, led to the fact that God had to select and train His own people-group through the believing Abraham and his descendants (Deuteronomy 32). All of this supernaturalism made sense to the Hebrew worldview and writers of the Bible. But it is more difficult for modern man to be comfortable with – enlightened and limited as we are by a worldview of materialist science.

Implications for “space aliens” ala Star Wars, thus, have a basis for truth in the supernatural/spiritual reality of the God of the Bible. Satan and his fallen-angels hierarchy would like to cater to our sin nature and deceive mankind with misplaced hopes, fears, and false philosophies – thwarting the purposes of God in drawing a special people to Himself.

But our great Creator wants us to be forever united with Jesus Christ and the rest of the saints now and in eternal communion and glory – able not only to “travel safely through hyperspace” but to enjoy the heavenly blessings that He “has prepared for them that love him.” Such blessings are so wonderful that they are beyond what we can possibly imagine! This is truly a hope worth having! — Creation Moments

Where Should We Start Our Search For Truth

There is a simple shortcut to truth: start with the Bible first and investigate it thoroughly. Why start there? Not just because the Bible claims to be the only inspired Word of the one true God who created us. It also claims that all of the world’s religions and their scriptures are false and actually in the service of Satan. The Bible calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and thus the author of its religions. So if the Bible is true, we have saved ourselves a lifetime of vain searching through false systems. 


In fact, we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that every word in the Bible is true. The Bible has several unique features not found in the scriptures of the world’s religions, making it possible to substantiate its claims. Christianity is not a philosophy, mystical experience, or esoteric practice [but] is based upon undeniable and historical facts. The Bible stands on a four-fold foundation, every part of which can be examined and verified: 1) prophecy foretelling events and doctrines in advance, 2) fulfillment of those prophecies in detail, 3) secular history testifying to the fulfillment of prophecies and events, and 4) factual data corroborated by archaeology and science. None of this is the case with the teachings or scriptures of any of the world’s religions. —Dave Hunt[Excerpt taken from Seeking and Finding God (Bend, OR: TBC, 2007), pp 66-67) – Berean Call

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