Mark Driscoll Slammed by Baptist Press over Sex Teaching (via Barth’s Notes on Religion)

Shir HaShirim 1:1-10

Shir HaShirim 1:1-10

apparently, i’m a latecomer to the nonsense peddled by mark driscoll and the mars hill church. here’s a post from richard bartholomew on the neo-fundamentalist driscoll taking liberty with שיר השירים.

if you’ve heard my lectures on שיר השירים, you’ll know that i have fun with the text too. (then again, who wouldn’t – it’s an odd text.) but to command a wife to give head to her husband may stray a bit from the role of a pastor, and certainly does edge rather close to an abuse of pastoral authority.

then again, when it comes to power consolidation and abuses of pastoral authority…..

A number of sites have noted a report from the Baptist Press concerning Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church; a Christian radio station recently yanked a programme featuring Driscoll due to Driscoll’s teachings concerning sex. In particular, this 2007 sermon delivered in Edinburgh was considered unacceptable: During the sermon, which was entitled “Sex, a Study of the Good Bits from Song of Solomon,” Driscoll interpreted Song of Solo … Read More

via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion

busted! turkey’s culture ministry is now ‘investigating’ noah’s ark ministries international

Noah's Ark Sinkingyou read about it here earlier. and now, they’re getting busted.

Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has launched an investigation into claims by a research team named Noah’s Ark Ministries International that they have found Noah’s Ark.

The ministry has also initiated an investigation into state officials of the province of Ağrı, including Deputy Governor Murat Güven, Provincial Tourism Director Muhsin Bulut and an official from the district governor’s office in Doğubeyazıt, who were present at the press conference in Hong Kong where the explorers made their finding public.

“A statement was made from abroad, claiming that Noah’s Ark has been found. There were Turkish state officials present when the statement was made. We are investigating the technical and legal aspects of the issue. How did these objects get there [to Hong Kong] and under whose authority were the officials present there? We are investigating this,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said.

Günay also stated that they were happy for the Hong Kong explorers to carry out research on Mount Ağrı but noted that the ministry doubted they asked for permission before doing their research. He also sent a strong message to Turkish scientists who claim that Noah’s Ark is not in Turkey.

is it too early to say it???

no, no you didn’t find noah’s ark

A member of the Noah's Ark Ministries International claims to be examining Noah's Ark in Turkey.

A member of the Noah's Ark Ministries International claims to be examining Noah's Ark in Turkey.

about this time every year, something sensational happens…literally. every spring, as dig season approaches, we are treated to a little hoax disguised as hope. every spring, faith is once again used to sell something, and every year, science pays the price in the form of a reduced credibility at the hands of pseudo-scientists, who peddle their claims and cheapen the name of science.

i am speaking, of course, about the annual, sensational claims by some group that purports to have discovered the ark of the covenant, noah’s ark, the true cross of christ, or some other biblical relic that is supposed to prove once and for all that the narratives recorded in the bible are true. this year is no exception, but this time it appears that something far more sinister may be at work. late-breaking news indicates that the whole thing may be a hoax.

an evangelical group out of hong kong calling itself noah’s ark ministries international, and its partner organization, the media evangelism limited are claiming to all who will listen (except scholars) that they have discovered noah’s ark. their claim is based upon their ‘discovery’ of wooden ‘rooms’ or compartments atop turkey’s mt. ararat. they claim that it must be the ark because no one would possibly build a building at that altitude. they claim to have carbon-14 samples, but won’t reveal who performed them. and of course, they can’t tell us where the secret location of the site is, because, well…it’s a secret. still, according to the sun, group member yeung wing-cheung says:

It’s not 100 per cent that it is Noah’s Ark, but we think it is 99.9 per cent that this is it.

well, allow me to explore that .1%. in fact, let me just come right out and say it:
no, no you didn’t find noah’s ark.

richard bartholomew and jim west have already commented upon this nonsense, but let me add my simple comments:

this group was put together to do one thing and one thing only: make money and spread ideology by pimping both archaeology and religion. let me explain:

the media evangelism limited is a media company which states on its website that its background, vision and mission are:

Background

  • In 1987, a group of young Christians in Hong Kong envisioned a society where multi-media businesses would proliferate, and they saw the chance to capitalize on the advance technologies to serve the society. Their vision gave birth to an organization, known as “The Media Evangelism” (TME). The Media Evangelism Limited was officially incorporated in Hong Kong in 1991.

Vision & Mission

  • The Media Evangelism Limited is a charitable Christian organization committed to building a Christian media presence by using every modern means of communication to promote the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our missions are:

  • To take the message of our Lord Jesus Christ to all by means of high quality audio and visual products and services.
  • To foster biblical standard and Christian values in Chinese communities worldwide.
  • To enhance the moral and spiritual fabric of our society through creative media.
  • To pull together the collective wisdom of Evangelical Christians who are talented and gifted in media arts, and to collaborate with other Christian groups for the advance of the Kingdom of God.
Lost in the Noah's Ark

Lost in the Noah's Ark

as one might expect, the group filmed the expedition and now has a documentary movie to sell (note the director’s name: yeung wing-cheung). it is also interesting that noah’s ark ministries international runs a noah’s ark theme park and needs to sell tickets. of course, you could make even more money if you host an exhibition entitled, ‘lost in the noah’s ark’ and advertised it with bizarre posters. and, of course, the whole marketing must be kicked off in a coordinated manner. according to their web site:

March, 2010
The “We Touched Noah’s Ark: The Search for A Carpenter’s Heart” Evangelistic Campaign was launched. Worldwide press conferences, exhibitions and sharing are carried out to spread the Gospel through the Noah’s Ark discovery.

follow the money and follow the ideology. every ark expedition is about the same thing: raising funds and spreading a fundamentalist christian ideology. this may all be well and good if you’re a ministry, but for a group feigning to be archaeologists, it’s a dead giveaway.

my colleague and co-chair of asor‘s media relations committee, dr. eric cline of george washington university, appeared on good morning america wednesday, april 28, 2010 and later on fox news on thursday, april 29, and discussed the group’s claims. dr. cline mocked the ‘99.9%’ claim, incurring the wrath and claims of bias and unfairness over at cbn (which means he’s got it right).

rather than ridicule or bash them, dr. cline addressed the fundamental archaeological methods that are lacking with noah’s ark ministries international (the name still cracks me up). they are keeping the location of the find secret, haven’t invited any scientists to provide outside verification, and haven’t revealed the source of the carbon-14 data they claim they have. as i said in an interview with rich buhler on 740 am kbrt this afternoon, any credible excavation knows that it must do the following:

  1. reveal the location. all credible excavations publish when and where they will be digging. in fact, they are usually begging for volunteers. but, this group has not yet even revealed the location of their find. here’s a rule of thumb to live by: any time someone promises you, ‘i have evidence that will prove that the bible is true, but i can’t show it to you,’ be suspicious.
  2. publish your data and get outside verification and corroboration. all credible excavations publish their data and make it available for peer-review and cross-examination. this is usually done at a professional conference. this is how scholarship works. this group has not done this.
  3. announce to scholars first. it is not enough to make a press release direct to the public. those who publicize their finds with direct-to-the-media marketing campaigns and bypass scholars do so because they rely on the buzz of the media and know that the scholars will end their 15 minutes of fame before it starts. they prey on the curiosity of the public, and hope that no one pays attention to scholars’ rebuttal on the back pages of the same newspapers and websites that ran the initial story in the headlines. (see: foxnews, msnbc, nat geo, abc, etc.)

this is how the academy works. and this is how it should work. there should be a system of checks and balances between the academy and institutions of faith. it keeps both groups honest.

archaeologists look at these untrained, amateur, evangelical groups doing archaeology and making claims about noah’s ark with well-deserved suspicion. it is the exact same suspicion that evangelicals would show towards a group of untrained, amateur hindu explorers claiming to have found a mace, a chakra and a conch shell in kurukshetra that prove the existence of the hindu god vishnu. just because you find reindeer bones at the north pole does not mean you have proved the existence of santa claus. and, just because you find a boat doesn’t mean you’ve proved the flood. and in this case, noah’s ark ministries international hasn’t even demonstrated that they’ve found a boat! they’ve found wood. finding a wooden structure on a mountain in turkey does not mean you’ve discovered noah’s ark. it means you’ve found a wooden building. it could be a barn. it could be a small cottage. it could be a tool shed.

however, this story may be even more sinister than a simple sensationalist claim. there is evidence that it may have all been a hoax. an article by stephen kurczy in the christian science monitor is now claiming that fellow ark hunter, dr. randall price of liberty university, who once worked with the noah’s ark ministries international group and was the archaeologist on the chinese-led team in 2008 when this alleged discovery was first made, may have been participants in an elaborate hoax. according to the article:

“If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that’s fine. My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be,” he says. He says he has “difficulties with a number of issues related to the evidence at hand.”

Price declined to elaborate. However, a leaked email from Price – which he confirms that he wrote – shows that he has reason to believe that a group of local Kurdish men trucked wood up to the mountain and staged an elaborate hoax for the Chinese team.

A group of Kurdish workers “are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. … During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film,” Price writes in the email.

michael heiser at paleobabble.com offers even more details. he writes:

I also got an email today from one of Randall Price’s students. The email contains a message from Dr. Price about this expedition. (Dr. Price, as some of you may recall, has been doing a lot of searching for the ark lately.) Here is an excerpt from his message:

I was the archaeologist with the Chinese expedition in the summer of 2008 and was given photos of what they now are reporting to be the inside of the Ark. I and my partners invested $100,000 in this expedition (described below) which they have retained, despite their promise and our requests to return it, since it was not used for the expedition. The information given below is my opinion based on what I have seen and heard (from others who claim to have been eyewitnesses or know the exact details).

To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake. The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut’s men to the site saw the wood, but couldn’t get inside because of the severe weather conditions. During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.

so it appears that the whole thing may have been rigged. an ark-eologist got duped by other ark-eologists. this is simply sad.

the problem with this is that both religion and science lose. people of faith look like a bunch of liars that will do or say anything to prove their faith, including lie, cheat, steal, and rig an elaborate hoax to raise money and spread their faith. but because they use science to make their claim, religious fundamentalists will claim that scientists are elaborate tricksters that manipulate data in an attempt to prove the bible is false. and somewhere in between these two extremes are honest people of faith and honest scientists trying to have an honest debate about the feasibility and historicity of a flood and an ark, questioning why different numbers of animals on the ark are given in the bible, (gen 6:19 vs. gen 7:2), and how wood could have survived and not decomposed over time. these arguments are lost because both extremes-the religious fundamentalists and the militant agnostics-retreat to their extreme positions, and the media loves extreme anything.

science and faith both lose. both can co-exist, but episodes like this one don’t help.

this unfortunate episode also reveals that there are two levels of ‘sensational’. the first is the sensationalism that we find when someone makes an unsubstantiated archaeological claim. whenever someone finds a piece of wood on top of a mountain in turkey, someone is always sure to claim they’ve found noah’s ark. there is no evidence, but this speculation is sure to raise eyebrows, and so someone always irresponsibly makes that claim. but, there is a far more egregious form of sensationalism: the hoax. this is when evidence is planted so that said sensational claim can be made. this hoax should be met with outrage, and both noah’s ark ministries international, their sponsors, and the local turkish government officials should be sanctioned for their participation in the charade.

Hong Kong people are recognized as Honorable Citizens in Agri Province of Turkey for the first time

Hong Kong people are recognized as Honorable Citizens in Agri Province of Turkey for the first time

so no, you didn’t find noah’s ark. but you did get to be honorable citizens for the day. and you got your name in the paper. and you got you picture taken. and you’ve become the latest chapter in the seemingly never ending story of the quest for things that we’ll never find, if they ever existed at all.

and one more thing: my hat is off to all of the scholars and the cadre of bloggers that came forward to research this story and expose this charade. hats off to the news organizations that quickly posted responses to the initial story like time and the christian science monitor. and hats off to randall price, whom i previously ripped in this very space, for admitting his mistake and exposing this nonsense. you did the right thing and i respect that.

the insanity continues: jim barfield and the copper scroll project get another jpost article

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project,' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

the insanity continues.

apparently, the copper scroll project is listening to the criticisms made on this blog here and here and here and on the bible and interpretation site here and here and on jim west’s blog here and here and here and here and on dr. jim linville’s blog here and eric cline’s comment on the asor blog and on todd bolen’s blog here and on steven smuts’ blog here and here and on richard bartholomew’s blog here and here and here and here and on….. well, you get the picture.

jimmy barfield is listening, and is now attempting to refute the scholars that are beginning to question openly his copper scroll project and their findings (including their claim that the copper scroll was written during the time of jeremiah, and that all of the treasure is buried beneath ‘the pyramid with the top cut off’ (i.e., the tower), and that the copper scroll was the only dead sea scroll to be discovered in a ‘legitimate’ excavation by archaeologists). in the past few weeks, we’ve had some gems, such as what barfield stated in the ‘setting the record straight’ section of his august 2009 update:

b. With all respect to those with the stacks of letters behind their names displaying their degrees, we lowly firefighters have learned to work and play well with others. We on the project have, and will, always try to remain respectful of others no matter what their level of education. The objective is to learn from each otherr [sic]- not attempt to humiliate or discredit those that are progressing. That simple trait may have been a key factor in the success that the Copper Scroll Project has enjoyed to this point.

mr. barfield, i’m not trying to embarrass you. that is your own doing. i am simply trying to show readers why the iaa doesn’t call you anymore, why no scholar accepts a single thing you are saying, and why your circular reasoning makes no rational sense.

but there is more. for instance, barfield responded to my pointing out that he studied with vendyl jones:

d. The research about the history of the Copper Scroll is my own. Although Vendyl Jones does agree with me on many points, the determinations are mine and not influenced by Vendyl in any way. It is my studies into the Dead Sea Scrolls and my Biblical research that shaped my conclusions to form the Copper Scroll report.

e. With all respect to Vendyl. He is not, nor has he ever been, a member of the Copper Scroll Project or the team.

or this one in response to my questioning why the copper scroll project went back and overdubbed the name of the archaeologist ‘working with them’ (they occur at 0:28, 1:26, 2:18, 3:50, and again at 5:11):

g. We removed the name of the IAA archeologist from the site to allow him to focus on his job and not have to answer loads of distracting questions.

or this one in response to my pointing out that barfield has never been the leader of an excavation:

h. We on the Copper Scroll Project had no authority over the excavation, nor did we pay the IAA one single shekel for what was done at the sites.

now, the copper scroll project has released an entire video that appears to have been shot before in response to scholars’ calls for evidence. (i shall address this in another post.)

but make no mistake: jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project folks are listening.

the problem is, the iaa is listening too. as i have said in earlier posts, the iaa has completely disowned jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project. of course, they had a meeting with yizhak magen and yuval peleg, and barfield and company were sure to take lots of pictures of them keenly looking at barfield’s ‘research.’ as a result, barfield and his team were allowed to watch magen and peleg’s ongoing ten-year excavation, but at no time did they lead the excavation. likewise, magen and peleg completely disagree with barfield’s interpretation, and said as much in this week’s jerusalem post:

“We have dug all over Qumran,” Magen said. “This stuff isn’t there.”

magen went even further:

Yet Magen, one of the leading archeologists on the project, has confirmed to Metro that the digging has ceased.

“We did tests and we didn’t find anything,” Magen said. “There is nothing there.”

When asked why the permit for the excavation remained active, Magen clarified that while the dig was technically ongoing, Barfield’s “theory did not hold up.”

“For 30 years, each person has come with their own theory,” he added. “And they amount to nothing.”

however, something in the article struck me as odd. according to shelly neese:

Peleg, with Magen’s consent, agreed to be the archeologist for the excavation.

the wording in the sentence appears vague, and perhaps intentionally so. the article nowhere says that the iaa endorsed or sponsored the dig. perhaps this is because the west bank, where qumran is located, falls under magen and peleg’s authority as the representatives of the civil administration of judea and samaria. or, it could be that magen gave peleg permission to let barfield and company tag along. neese’s article makes it appear that peleg was working for barfield and his dig. barfield has already stated that the iaa was not paid ‘one single shekel’ (august 2009 update). however, observers usually have to pay somebody to tag along, and barfield has already stated on the copper scroll project fund raising page that:

The CSP has set up a 501(c)3 just for this purpose and has established four separate budgets ranging from the bare bones of $18,185 up to $148,000. Depending on the amount that can be raised will determine how many volunteers and how much equipment will be available for the excavation. The IAA will require trained staff to do the excavation along with Yuval Peleg, the archeologist who will be managing the dig.

in fact, barfield specifically said he was raising money to pay for the following:

Depending on what is raised will determine which budget they will go with. Understand this. If the cave opening is where Jim thinks it is…all it will take is four men, a couple of shovels and a lot of work to reveal the opening for a magnificent find. It is the cost of food, shelter, the IAA staff and transportation that makes the cost soar.

somebody got paid for something!! your supporters gave you a lot of money to pay for something, but you are stating that the iaa got nothing.

where did all the money go? did you give it to the iaa? did you pay your archaeologist? or did you pocket the money?

which is it?

new article by dr. robert cargill: pseudo-science and sensationalist archaeology: an exposé of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project

Dr. Robert R. Cargill appearing on Discovery.

Dr. Robert R. Cargill appearing on Discovery.

the bible and interpretation website has published my latest article entitled, “pseudo-science and sensationalist archaeology: an exposé of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project.” it is a call to arms for biblical scholars and archaeolosgists to address publically the sensationalist claims made by amateur archaeologists and pseudo-scientists.

Members of the academy must take individual responsibility and make conscious efforts to rebut examples of obvious disinformation whenever and wherever they arise. Likewise, archaeologists must band together and coordinate their efforts to meet these misleading claims as strongly and consistently as possible. For in a world where Wikipedia allows anyone to say just about anything, scholars must move beyond their comfortable arenas of peer-review and professional conferences, where they talk only to one another, and redouble our efforts to reach out to the public directly. We must counter irresponsible claims with measured responses, debunk and discredit them, and offer alternative theories from a spectrum of reliable scholars who, while they may at times disagree, can support their various claims with scientific facts, tangible data, and sound reason.

and in case you were wondering if this is about money (perhaps a mere finder’s fee and some texas funding) the attention (news articles and tv spots), and religious ideology (the ark of the covenant? really?), just watch:

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