Monday, July 19, 2010

Ancient Evidence against Acts 17

I just read about the discovery of an ancient manuscript over at Lydia's blog. Since this has implications for our ministry, I'm reposting Lydia's intro along with the ancient document.

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Those of you who have been following the outrageous treatment of Christian missionaries in Dearborn, MI, through my coverage at W4 or at the blog of Acts 17 ministries may or may not be aware that the Acts 17 guys and their friends have had a fair bit of their time wasted--on blogs, on Facebook, etc.--answering Christian "friends" who accuse them of being "too confrontational," etc., and hence getting themselves in trouble. (Never mind the rule of law, the freedom of religion, the mandate to proclaim the gospel, and all that. We're busy proving how hard we can be on fellow Christians who have the audacity to run afoul of the sharia police.)

Anyway, I cannot reveal here how the following came into my possession. I will only say, for the record, that I did not write it. I wouldn't want to take credit for something that isn't my own.

Don't forget to note the acronym at the end...

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[The following document, written in Koine Greek on a surprisingly intact sheet of fine vellum, was recently found in a drawer in the British Museum, where it had lain uncatalogued for an unknown time. Scholarly opinion is divided, but some experts believe that it may have been a document that was considered and then rejected for inclusion in the fourteenth chapter of Acts. It is translated here for the first time.]

Dear Brother Paul,

We were grieved to hear of the commotion caused when you and Barnabas were here last month. Though we are, of course, grateful that you suffered no bodily harm, we feel it our duty to point out that what you were doing was in every way calculated to inflame strong passions and to incite violence. Because we love you as brethren, we feel it necessary to “show unto you a more excellent way,” lest your actions should cause a breach in the excellent relations we enjoy with the Jewish community here and in our sister cities to the south, Lystra and Derbe.

First, it is reported that you and Barnabas entered a synagogue. You of all people must understand that this placed you in a sensitive position. It is one thing to speak on a public street – sensitively, of course – but it is quite another to go forcing one’s way into the very house of worship of our Jewish friends. Ask yourselves: what would Jesus do? Would he have caused trouble in the Temple itself?

Second, it is reported that when you and Barnabas had entered the synagogue, you began openly preaching the gospel. Brethren, this is out of character with the behavior of our blessed Lord and Saviour, who, as the prophet Isaiah foretold, “opened not his mouth” – a moving description that we have taken as our motto for the Ministerial Society.

Third, it is reported that you engaged in this activity for an extended period of time, speaking boldly and with confidence. We entreat you: was there any need for this? Was there not a time and a place for sharing your convictions that would have been more compatible with the excellent advice you yourself have been known to give from time to time, that “all things might be done decently and in order”?

Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that the civil authorities and a sizeable portion of the religious population joined forces to prevent your actions. Without seeming to condone any violence you might have suffered, we feel compelled to point out that we in the Ministerial Society have never been the focus of such actions from either the civil or the religious direction. Indeed, several of the leading Rabbis here in Iconium have assured us that they have not the least problem with the manner in which we conduct ourselves.

This manner of conduct we earnestly commend to you. There is no need for you to suffer for your faith, whether out of misplaced piety or a juvenile desire for public attention. Our God, who is able to make the rocks cry out His praises, neither requires nor is glorified by brash attempts to proclaim His word in unseasonable circumstances. It is better – safer, and, we think, wiser – to remember the words of the preacher, that there is “a time for silence.”

Sincerely,

M. W. T. Rollos, secretary
Worship, Iconium! Ministerial Peace Society
“... ουκ ανοιγει το στομα αυτου”

24 comments:

warrior4truth said...

Well, for whatever reason, it was left out of the canon. Maybe it was a later forgery...? But even so, this does not change anything. Many were proclaiming false gospels during the time of Paul. This letter to Paul only shows that there were some Christians back then (are still today) who do not endorse confrontational evangelism. Whatever the case may be, we have the actions of the apostles recorded in the NT and we are to follow their examples.

Teri said...

To my new friends...How astonishing that anyone today in our tolerant world would dare believe that Paul and Barnabas would do such a thing. We aren't REALLY supposed to follow the NT teachings or the examples of the apostles, christians, and early church fathers or Jesus are we? They really didn't expect us to abstain from certain things (sex outside of marriage, eating/drinking too much, gossiping to our prayer partner about the latest prayer chain email...), care for widows (single parents?) and orphans (foster kids?), and certainly that whole thing about preaching the word in and out of season! I mean, really, who does those things?

Tim said...

Oh dear ... it was a satire, warrior my friend ...

Tom said...

David, you are TOO funny! I don't read Greek but I am enough of a GEEK to read an acronym. LOL! That you have a sense of humor in all of this is DELIGHTFUL! You ARE my hero! Oh, Hallelujah! LOL! Glory to God! KAFIR AND PROUD! May Jesus Christ be ROFLAUGHIN'!!

BlackBaron said...

Ha! Good stuff.

BlackBaron said...

Ha! Good stuff. warrior4truth, it's satire buddy.

Zack_Tiang said...

"Don't forget to note the acronym at the end..."

"Sincerely,

M. W. T. Rollos, secretary
Worship, Iconium! Ministerial Peace Society"


W.I.M.P.S.

Great joke! XD

warrior4truth,
Yes, it was a forgery.. A forgery created just within these few weeks, I'm speculating. Haha.

Apsolvent said...

@warrior4truth: You never heard for satire?

Laura Davis said...

It reads like a forgery.The WWJD statement practically shouts I'm a fake. However, the author of the letter failed to realize that everything thing he pointed out that Jesus wouldn't do or didn't do, Jesus actually did do!

Jesus was the most confrontational preacher of his day. That's why so many people wanted him dead. They didn't like what they were hearing. I'd say Acts 17 is doing exactly what Jesus would have them do.

pixydust said...

All that proves is that old Christians had wrong-headed opinions just like contemporary ones.

Rafa-el_1 said...

warrior don't you see that it is a joke?

Meagan said...

If this was inspired, God would have passed it in the canon. Also, the writing is very from the rest of the book- no consistency. Don't waste your time on this.

GreekAsianPanda said...

LOL!! Lydia, you are such a card!

Anthony Rogers said...

With so many Christians missing the fact that this post was purely satirical, I can only imagine what Muslims are thinking.

Watch out! We might be hearing a Muslim bring up this "early" letter in a debate in the near future. If that happens, I don't know if I will ever be able to stop laughing.

Lydia McGrew said...

Greek Panda, I didn't write it, I swear. :-)

Anthony, that's a good point. That would be extremely funny.

Do people really think they used exclamation marks after the word "worship" in ancient Iconium?

Lazaro Lopez said...

My little imput. Let's do a fresh study on the word "preaching". Strong's Concordance Hebrew #7121 and #2784 in Greek. Let God In His Word show us what "preaching" really is. I hope you all do this, you will be blessed and more will go out with Authority and Power from On High "For The Sake of The Name" III John v.7. Amen.

The Fat Man said...

Warrior4truth
This is satire,its good and I'm jealous that i didn't think of it to write it.

No offense sir or man, but your remind me of a woman I worked with. After 9-11 there was a viral email floating out there from President Bush that said "Woman of the United States, your government needs your help to identify radical Muslim terrorists. At 11 am on such and such a date we are calling on all patriotic woman to run out in the street naked. This will cause the Radical Muslims to look away so we can identify them"

This woman God Bless her" called in sick that day and said she was as patriotic as the next american woman but there was no way she was running down the street naked.

Traeh said...

Oh, you guys are being too hard on those of us who fell for it. Hey, if someone tells me with a completely straight face that something unbelievable has happened, I'll often believe the completely straight face, for a second anyway.

A brilliant spoof. Might become a classic.

Traeh said...

Laura Davis, you said:
"However, the author of the letter failed to realize that everything thing he pointed out that Jesus wouldn't do or didn't do, Jesus actually did do!"

Which author do you mean? There were two authors of the letter:

1. The actual author
2. The fictional author, created by the actual author.

So which of the two authors failed to understand Jesus? I'd say -- and I imagine Laura you'd say -- it was the fictional author, created by the actual author. After all, the fictional author is a member of WIMPS. So we can assume that the actual author doesn't think too highly of the fictional author nor of the fictional author's views of Jesus. Besides, the fictional author is made by the actual author to look ridiculous in that the letter foolishly "corrects" Paul for his insistence on speaking out fearlessly even in a synagogue. Why can't Paul just speak quietly on the street? asks the fictional author and clueless fellow Christian. Reminds me of some Christians today chiding Acts 17.

John Lollard said...

Could this be the lost Injil?

warrior4truth said...

wow, i was so infuriated at this, so the very idea of this being a satire didn't even cross my mind! haha!

aussie christian said...

Now if someone was hoax minded, wanted to get our muslim "friends" to make donkeys out of themselves, they could write a short paper with photoshoped pictures of scrolls stating that the words "mohummad" and "allah" were found on some dead sea scrolls, then send it via an official looking email addy to them. As they have not all been deciphered and translated, they would fall hook line and stinker for it and post it everywhere, thus proving that they will grab onto anything even if its not true to further their case.

Just a thought/hint for anyone who has accademic writing capabilities.

Fernando said...

John Lollard said: «Could this be the lost Injil?»...

looool...

mike said...

Satire it may be. However, this my friends is the legacy of the bible. People propagating lies and finding it to somehow be comical. I hope for your sake that deception and close mindedness is not your disease dear David..