Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jude and Enoch

Being of a Pentecostal background, I don’t put a lot of weight in apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings (popularly called the “lost books” of the Bible), but I picked up a cheap copy of I Enoch a while back because I had heard that Jude references it in his epistle. Well, I finally got around to looking at it, and Jude did more than reference it. He quoted it directly:

Jude verses 14-15 (the book has only one chapter):
[14]And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, [15]To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
I Enoch 1:9

[9]And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Modern scholars believe that I Enoch was written somewhere between one and two hundred years before the New Testament. Actually, many of early Christians thought it was written a lot earlier than that. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Augustine all believed Enoch was the author. Tertullian, reflecting a popular view, argued it should be included in scripture – indeed, the Coptics of Ethiopia agreed with that position and made it a part of their official canon. But The Council of Laodicea (364 AD) banned it, and about 40 other books. I may be wrong, but I believe it was banned because of doubts over its authorship. The book quickly disappeared and was lost to the West until British explorers travelled to Ethiopia and discovered it preserved by the Copts.

It is called the “First” Enoch to distinguish it from a couple of other texts that have been attributed to Enoch.

I just thought this was interesting, so I’m sharing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon Violence

Today the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, described in the news as a Canadian Islamic group, said that Canadian troops have been put at risk by the decision of some Canadian news outlets to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Now I want to say that this Council was not making a threat. I understand that. But by linking the possibility of violence towards our peacekeepers overseas they are exploiting the threat of violence to further their agenda.

How this plays out will be interesting. We Canadians have an image of ourselves as bastions of tolerance, true its one that is built on a understanding of our history that can be described as selective at best, but its become a part of our national identity. At the same time the culture of our political elite is secularized, and tends to treat anyone with conservative religious values with derision and suspicion. As a threat to the body politic.

The Council wants to use our anti-hate laws to try and punish the publishers. If it was about hateful or insulting images of Christ or Christians I doubt the courts would even consider looking at it. Nor would the media be sympathetic, or even give their precious air time or page space to a serious consideration of the complainants. I've seen these images. Some are offensive, others aren't. One is simply of a frightened cartoonist drawing a man in Arab head dress. The argument being made by Islamic groups is that any image of Mohammed is offensive to them and a violation of their religious laws.

Where do I stand on this? I think peoples' religious beliefs should be treated with respect, but why should we be made subject to Islamic law? This is not an Islamic nation. I do understand how aggravating it is to see your religious beliefs being mistreated and misrepresented. As a Christian I can't listen to a week of CBC radio without some idiot saying something insulting or derogatory. But why should one religion be allowed to dictate the behaviour of everyone else. If Christians were doing this, they would not be treated with any measure of respect. Why grant it to another group? As a display of tolerance? Or are we being intimidated by the threat of another 9-11?

(And before any one criticizes that last comment, I have seen protesters making just that point.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Couple of Related Links

Here are a couple of links, related to my last post.

Ths is a link to the Evangelical Climate Initiative, the group that is spearheading the drive to do something about global warming.

And this is a link to a Salon article about the group and their recent actions. Ususally, Salon requires you to view a short ad before allowing you to read articles in full.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Greening of the Religious Right

This morning's paper -- actually, I get the NY Times online -- came with the news that 86 Evangelical leaders have taken a stand, calling on the US government to work to end gobal warming. Probably the best known leader being author Rick Warren.

Interestingly, when I googled the item, most news sources emphasized the fact that the evangelicals could not reach a consensus and so did not as a body take a formal stand. This was the work of conservative (read Republican) evangelicals like James Dobson, who argued that the lack of unanimity in opinions within the organization meant that The National Association of Evangelicals could not take an official position. I wonder if a moderate minority could derail an initiative they didn't support.

Anyway, its good to see this stewartship is being taken seriously. True, things weren't turned around today, but that doesn't mean they never will be. As I said in an earlier post, God doesn't give us blessings so that we can exploit and discard them.