"Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.' " - Acts 7:2-3
Stephen is taken before the Sanhedrin and they ask him if the charges against him are true. The charges were, if you'll remember from yesterday, that he blasphemed against God and Moses. Stephen decides to give the longest, and most completely irrelevant answer of all time.
Stephen gives the Sanhedrin an almost complete synopsis of the Old Testament. He starts with Abraham and goes to the story of Solomon. The only thing worth mentioning is something Stephen says toward the end of his rant:
However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.
In fact, he does:
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.
This is just a random example from Exodus (25:8-9), God is represented as living in the tabernacle many times in the Old Testament.
Factual errors or not, I don't see how any of this answers the question of whether he blasphemed against God or Moses. Just because he's a scholar of Old Testament history doesn't make him somehow incapable of blaspheming. The Sanhedrin seems to agree, as they immediately drag him outside and stone him. Stephen prays that they will be forgiven for their sin, and falls asleep.
On this same day, the Christian church in Jerusalem is disbanded. All but the twelve are scattered throughout the land. One of the main perpetrators of this split up is Saul. Saul, the bible says, goes from door to door dragging Christians away and tossing them in jail.
Some of the church that is scattered in Samaria comes across a man named Simon. This Simon can perform magic, and many of the Samarians say that he has divine power. I guess some people can perform magic without the assistance of God.
When Peter and John come for a visit, they start laying their hands on people, giving them the Holy Spirit. Why is this necessary? I thought the Holy Spirit was going to be given to us by God, not through any of the disciples. Simon sees this, and offers Peter money if he will give him this power. Peter says that Simon will have no part with this ministry because he tried to buy God. I thought God liked to be bought. The Old Testament is filled with people giving their earthly possessions in sacrifice to God.
The chapter ends with one of the disciples converting a eunuch. The eunuch is at the side of the road reading Isaiah, and Philip convinces him that Isaiah is full of clear prophecy about Jesus.
Speaking of shoddy biblical prophecy:
Many people have heard about a book called the Bible, some have read it, others have studied it as an old dusty history book, and others have seen the marvelous reality of its power and knowledge tell us things hundreds and thousands of years before they ever happen.
I've haven't yet seen a thoroughly convincing biblical prophecy. But maybe I just passed something up, let's see what he has to say:
Around 6,000 years ago, Genesis tells us that Eve’s seed will crush Satan’s head. This tells us that a virgin without a man’s seed will give birth to the Son of God to destroy Satan’s power.
Genesis does say that Eve's offspring will crush the head of a serpent (not explicitly said to be Satan). But it's quite a momentous leap to say that this implies that a virgin will give birth to the son of God to destroy Satan. This isn't his last momentous leap:
One of King David’s psalms is called the Lord’s passion, describing right down to the last detail of His crucifixion, what He was feeling and how He was watching the soldiers cast lots for His robe, 1,076 years before the Romans at the request of the religious Jewish leaders crucified Him. This is psalm 22 if you care to read it.
Right down to the last detail, that's quite a claim. It turns out that Psalm 22 is one of those "woe is David" Psalms. In the Psalm, David says "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and David has his clothes divided by lots. Not even David phrases this as a prophecy. Are we to take what is clearly a coincidence (at best) and turn it into a prophecy, against the writer's will? I guess if I get mugged, and write a story about it, I'm really writing a prophecy that someday one of my great great great great grandchildren will be mugged.
I have had many people try to tell me that the men who wrote the Bible just made circumstances match up with what happened and pre-dated the event. Sorry! The ancient manuscripts found in Bedouin caves are within one-thousandth of total accuracy with our present Bible, translated by King James’ People.
I don't know about any of that, but it's clear that Jesus was intentionally fulfilling prophecies. Many times the bible says that Jesus does things "that they may fulfill the prophecy". An easy example of this is Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (and/or colt). Jesus went out of his way to grab a donkey to fulfill the prophecy. I believe the name for that is "self-fulfilling prophecy".
At this point, this writer must feel that he has his audience reeled in. Because he decides it's a good time to go to crazyland:
What really blows my mind is our July Fourth celebration, declaring our Independence from Great Britain, found in Daniel Chapter 7 verse 4. July Fourth, 7-4, Daniel 7:4, just a coincidence, or does God have a sense of humor? The Bible didn’t have any chapters or numbered scripture verses until the printing press came into existence in the middle of the 14th century, about 226 years before we were even thinking of becoming a Nation. Daniel even tells us our emblem will be an Eagle and will become a man (Uncle Sam) to represent our Nation! How accurate is that?
Oh, my mind is blown alright. Let's look at Daniel 7:4:
The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.
To put this in context, this is one of Daniel's dreams. In this one there are four great beasts "America" is the first one). In the dream he ends up talking to one of the horns of one of the beasts.
The writer mentions that verses were not included until after the bible was written. I'm not sure if this is supposed to help his "July fourth" case or not. I guess God not only added the verses by hand, but also oversaw the universal adoption of the Gregorian calendar and made Uncle Sam an American symbol circa 1812. All for one, not very convincing, mention of America in the strange dream of someone thousands of years ago.
Let's review. The United States is in the bible. It's personified by a winged monster in the form of a lion. This lion has it's eagle wings ripped off (thus the eagle became our national symbol?), and stands up like a man (Uncle Sam?). Wait, does this mean Uncle Sam is secretly a lion?
I think people are getting crazier and crazier every day.
(via The Coolidge Examiner)