Category Archives: Christian History

The Evolution of Super Heroes

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Super Jesus

The comic book characters seen on TV and in the movies are very entertaining. We love stories of good guys beating up the bad guys. We love a victorious fight. We thrill at the sights and sounds of adventure and super powers. But in all of the fun, have you ever stopped to think about where these super guys came from?

Perhaps the most famous super hero is Super Man. He grew up on a planet far away from the earth called Krypton. His parents sent him to earth because their planet was disintegrating. And on earth he would experience power like no one else. This is all good fun and games but look beneath it all and there is something more to the story.

Evolution is supposed to have occurred on earth (never proven scientifically) and if here then why not there in outer space? Obviously, there would be no people on another planet without evolution so we find a hidden factor in this super hero’s story with the theory of evolution. And evolution has given us another type of super man.

A dark chapter in history was in the 20th century when the Nazis took over Germany politically and instituted the ideas of evolution in their country. The idea of ‘super men’ was that the Germans were the ‘master race’ of mankind. Granted, Super Man took on these ‘super men’ and defeated them WWII. But any notion of a super man harkens back to the ideas of evolution.

Turn then to other super heroes who through some accident of chemistry, medicine, bug bite, or radiation evolved to a higher plane of being. We find the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Spider Man, etc. all evolving due to some evolutionary effect on their body by these accidental forces. Evolution was once thought to have occurred by such random chance accidents that science hoped to discover. The science fiction of the early 20th century evolution has taken on new form with these super powered people.

The Omega Man was another evolutionary vision presented by Teilhard de Chardin in his book, The Phenomenon of Man. According to Chardin, evolution would continue to lead mankind into greater stages of development as we’re just passing through this stage. This idea has since found its way into popular science fiction with a different set of super heroes.

Recall the science fiction movie, Star Trek 1, where the captain of the enterprise (Kirk was an admiral then) was joined with V’Ger (Voyager 6) to bridge the separation between man and machine. The movie played on the idea of the creator, who is mankind, and the machine, man’s creation, to suggest that evolution would take form in the union of man and machine. Flying through space like the gods of mythology, the crew of Star Trek were in a sense super heroes.

Also witness the ‘force’ behind the Star Wars movies. This force supposedly came from the ‘midi-chlorians’ that reside in the cells of all living things. The word ‘midi-chlorians’ is derived from the mitochondria and chloroplasts that provide energy for animal and plant cells. These ‘midi-chlorians’ are supposed to have a symbiotic relationship with their living hosts. This idea came from the symbiotic theory of evolution, which says that long ago, separate bacteria joined together to form the mitochondria within cells. Again, these super heroes of space travel are a form of super hero based upon the ideas of evolution.

I admit to enjoying these types of movies and will probably see many more of them in the coming years. However, the dark side of these super people is that they are no match for the greatest super hero of them all – the Son of God, Jesus Christ. In fact, it may be possible for people to miss their opportunity to connect with this real super person by focusing on these lesser characters of myth and fiction.

Jesus was and is the Creator of the universe. He is the express image of God and the very person of God. He came to the earth in human form as Immanuel and lived with people only to die for them. He not only paid for the penalty of mankind’s sin, he rose from the dead like no other person before or since. He saved all of mankind with his sacrifice and gave us the forgiveness of sin, eternal life, His Holy Spirit, and much much more.

My prayer for you is that you find God leading you to faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus, you can have a spirit transformation that is real; not a fictional evolution. You can grow in God’s goodness and grace and perform super human acts of kindness like forgiving your neighbor and loving your enemies. The Love of God is a powerful force that not only changes lives, it provides hope for a better tomorrow. There is so much that you will discover from the Truth of God’s Word about Jesus. Isn’t it time to put down the comic books and pick up the Bible?

Turn to the book of Revelations for starters and see the drama that unfolds therein. There is no story like it anywhere. John goes into the future to witness events in the last days; a vision of Jesus Christ. He writes them down and returns to the first century in Israel. We then read about the future from this book in the past from an eye witness. The visions in the book are technicolor beyond what cinema can portray. And there is a special blessing for reading this one particular book in the Bible (book of books). But there is more to discover in the rest of the Bible. Revelations is the last book in the Bible.

Super heroes can be fun toys to play with but God has a greater purpose in leading you to Jesus. He wants to make a super human out of you. The word ‘super’ means ‘above’. You can have super powers when you are led of the Holy Spirit, forgive others, share your faith, pray for the needs of people, etc. Living above the ordinary nature of mankind’s sin is what living the Christian life is all about.

So, while we have fun with these comic book characters, recognize the evolutionary origin that they went through and the perhaps subtle message that leads one away from God and the person of Jesus. The lingering myth of evolution is sure to move one away from God, the Creator – Jesus. Walking by faith in Jesus in your day to day life will make you a super hero in the eyes of God. And who knows what work of wonders awaits you as a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cookoo over Coco – Another Unholy Day

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Coco

Disney has produced and is ready to release a new movie that highlights aspects of Halloween for the Holiday of Thanksgiving. Giving God thanks during this holiday season is replaced with a mistaken idea of another holiday – the Day of the Dead. Here once again, the dark spirit of Halloween is invading the Holy Days of the holiday season.

The idea of All Hallows Eve, now called Halloween, was a day of preparation just before the Day of the Dead. The Days of the Dead were observed from 31 October to 2 November, with Halloween starting the season on 31 October, All Saints Day following on 1 November, and All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead wrapping it up on 2 November. Disney has decided to extend this holiday season by a few weeks into the Thanksgiving season. In effect they have taken the darkness that surrounds the modern activities of Halloween and put them in the middle of Thanksgiving.

Coco is a movie where a child returns to his ancestors to visit them. However, they are all dead and only their skeletons remain. Ancient Latin American cultures have taken pagan festivals and ‘Christianized’ them to include having meals with their dead relatives whose bones sit at the table with them. This is the foundation for the movie Coco but it is not a tradition that serves a Holy God. God has clearly stated we are not to talk with the dead or touch that which is unclean.

The idea behind the original Christian celebration called the Day of the Dead was to commemorate those who lived before us who gave us our rich culture and heritage. To remember the lessons of the past and pass them on to the next generation is a good thing. The idea of taking the bones of dead people, touching them and talking to them is indeed a tradition born of a dark spirit that need not be propagated by Disney for children.

The idea of Thanksgiving is the simple idea of giving God thanks for his provision in our lives. Thanksgiving is a Christian Holy Day (holiday) that commemorates the blessings of heaven in the lives of believers of Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving was celebrated by Hispanics of the Latin (Catholic) tradition in El Paso years before it was celebrated by Protestant Pilgrims in New England. It is a rich tradition of giving God praise for the wonderful works he has done. This is the spirit of light that should permeate All Hallows Eve, the Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But it is being perverted by a dark spirit of Halloween.

One may pass on judging the movie but one cannot pass on seeing the light. A spirit of darkness is seeking to cloud the Holiness of the Holidays by adding the evil aspects of a perverted tradition that came from a modern Halloween spirit. This dark spirit need only be confronted by the spirit of light found in the Holy Spirit of God. This Holy Spirit of light tells us of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who came to earth to forgive us of our sin and lead us into a new life of light and holy love. Please remember to share the light with family and friends on the holidays and pray that God will help us keep the Holidays Holy.

Modern Health Care – Medicine Without Charity

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

Charity Care

The profession of medicine has developed over many centuries with the growth of science and religion providing a foundation for modern medical miracles. The ancient ideas of medicine have been replaced by more empirical methods that diagnose illnesses and treat patients with practical remedies. And the idea of medicine as a charity stems from the idea of the Love (charity) of God for the benefit of one’s fellow man. With a misguided application of false charity by the government in the realm of medicine, the idea of charity in medicine is slowly being discarded in favor of big business. This has created a situation where the public health is threatened and the true ministry of medicine is all but lost.

We’ve recently seen how veteran’s health care has diminished when it comes to what is considered a treatable health problem. Given the limited resources provided by socialized medicine for veterans (government run health care), and the increasing number of veterans demanding health care without an equal increase in health care providers, the more the higher the thresholds will become before a person can be treated by doctors. It is simple math; you simply cannot do more with limited resources.

The idea of government run medicine treating people’s illnesses is as old as the progressive movement in the 1930’s. As a social gospel, the idea of charitable medicine stems from the idea of government run charities serving the public health; a proposal that is beyond constitutional boundaries. The old idea of the separation of church and state once prevented states from taxing people for charitable contributions to fund public ministries. Whereas the government was not supposed to be in the business of tax funded charities or ministries, that has turned around through the New Deal and now the government is funding national charities to aid in the business of medicine. This, however, has backfired and is not providing any real charitable support for people.

The idea of getting government out of religion in the 18th century was to help religion flourish without government intrusion. Keeping the government out of people’s religious decisions and the charitable contributions they might make helped to make people more likely to be charitable with their giving. The idea of charitable medicine being applied to the health of the poor was a Christian goal throughout the United States in the 19th century. That goal, however, has been high jacked by progressives in the 20th century who seek to fund government charities for health care at the expense of killing real charity.

The medical profession itself used to require its doctors to provide free health care to people for a period of time each year (one month per se). When Medicare and Medicaid came along in the 1960s, the free care that was provided by doctors was being paid by the government through tax payer dollars. The care provided by doctors to the poor didn’t change, only the money distributed to them; doctors were being paid for their charity. Now, medicine is big business and the idea of charity without taxation in the realm of medicine is all but lost. Medical charity has suffered at the hands of forced charity by state funding through taxation; again, a violation of the separation of church and state.

Not only has real charity gone down, but the cost of health care has gone up due to the idea of funding medicine by government charity; again, paid by taxpayers without any free will giving or freedom to not give. Now, the cost of medicine has skyrocketed. Hospitals, once funded by the government, charge more for their health care due to the fact that they are required by law to support the poor and indigent. Go to a lab at a hospital and to one at a private facility and the hospital will charge more for the same procedure to cover their charitable costs to other patients. Hospitals are not providing more charity, they are simply passing the cost onto the average consumer.

While the threshold for health care is raising for veterans across the country, it is lowering for the rest of the country. New standards are requiring people to get colonoscopies, high blood pressure medicine, and other procedures and medicines that raise the potential income of doctors, pharmacies, and the medical industry. A key business practice in marketing any product or service is to show how that product or service can be used for other needs. Providing new medical standards that lower the threshold for the level of health care one needs means more money for big business and charity is nowhere to be found.

The growth of medicine as a big business in America is directly related to the lack of real Christian charity in the ministry of medicine and the advent of a pseudo-Christian ministry of government run health care. Real charity is lost in government run medicine. Standards are lowered for those who suffer under socialized medicine, the idea of charity by medical professionals is now being funded by taxpayer dollars, and the rise of big business is creating reduced standards of health care to increase profit margins. Medical care needs to return to its foundations of providing for the needs of people regardless of the cost; for the benefit of the patient and not the stock holder. To do this, we must first get big government out of the big business of medicine so that charity through medicine can flourish again in America.

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

One Nation

The recent turmoil with the issues of race and racism has led many to challenge the established order of things and demean the foundation of our nation. Some have even called for demonstrations during the National Anthem ceremonies at various sporting events. The movement called Black Lives Matter has provided a foil whereby the continued problems of our society with respect to race can be addressed. However, this movement has not captured the heart of the problem nor has it provided solutions to the persistent problems that many people face daily.

Recall that the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and was a proponent of both the Christian Gospel and the equal application of the rule of law for all people. These are two solutions that the Black Lives Matter movement misses; nonetheless, black lives do matter. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t get there. It is more important to identify the solution than to constantly rave about the problem.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ shows us that we are all created equal and treated equal in the eyes of God. The book of Revelations sums it up clearly:

9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. [Revelations 5:9 KJV]

The Christian religion is an inclusive religion that accepts everyone despite their ethnic makeup. While we identify people by color but God sees us differently. He treats us all the same without regard to differences. The Christian faith is the primary means whereby the issues of race and racism can be treated spiritually in the heart of individual people and society. Respecting people as people is the goal. When we treat people like we want to be treated, we are following the Golden Rule of God. The Christian religion was key to the success of Dr. King.

Also, Dr. King supported the rule of law as a means of protecting the black community, not harming it. The rule of law is supposed to provide for civil and criminal justice for everyone in society. It is also supposed to protect our liberties; although we have to exercise our liberties ourselves. The rule of law is also supposed to provide for our Civil Rights, which includes the right to vote; people cannot establish their own polling stations so the government has to provide for these rights. So, where the law is supposed to provide for justice, liberty, and the rights of people, it wasn’t doing so in the American South before Dr. King. That is what he wanted as a solution of the state to deal with the problems of race and racism.

The trouble that Black Lives Matter presents is one of attacking law officers when they should be advocates of the law. The rule of law is a foundation for everyone to stand on and people need to be sure they are following the orders of the police or else they may be in trouble regardless of their color. The police are there for all people and all people should support them.

I recall reading the Federalist Papers many years ago and the ideas of the authors John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton remain on my heart and my mind still today. Their wisdom led this nation, before we became a nation, to see who we are as a people and what our new government should be like. Their words also provide a foundation for unity amidst the troubles of race and racism.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence. [Federalist #2, John Jay; 31 October 1787]

The country that Jay referred to was dominated by descendants of the English people, religion, law, and language. The heritage that Jay spoke of is of profound importance to us today.

The English were immigrants to North America and were accustomed to change. In fact, the population in England was heterogeneous consisting of many groups of people like the Anglos, the Normans, the Saxons, the Welch, the French, etc. The idea of a group of people descended from the same set of ancestors is really a signal of how many people groups migrated to England before coming to America. In the colonies of North America, the English immigrants were met by any number of migrants from other nations that were incorporated within the colonies. Not only did England have a history of bringing in new people to their country, the English in America carried on with the same traditions.

This cosmopolitan nature of England also led to a cosmopolitan language. With the influx of people from many countries into England came the change of the English language itself. English is a mixture of many different terms from various other languages and today we find the language still changing to meet with new concepts and ideas that often come from other countries. The mixture of language that now comprises English came from England’s ancestors.

From Jay’s essay we can still see how the foundation of our nation has led to an immigrant nation with a mixture of languages and cultures. Many people from many nations continue to seek the protection of America’s system of liberty and justice. As much as in the past, we are still today “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” America continues to build on its original foundations for the needs of all people.

So too, the rule of law was meant for the protection of the people and not the state. The history of law throughout the world has been dominated by the Roman Civil Law where the purpose of law is the protection of the state (an adversarial system). However, the English Common Law was founded upon an advocacy system for the protection of the individual. The rule of law is our defense against the excesses of crime and bad government.

The words of Dr. King and John Jay provide a foundation for solutions to today’s dilemma with race and racism. Faith in Jesus Christ and his redemption for us is the spiritual solution. And treating people like people is a personal solution; we learn this from God as he takes us just as we are. And the equal application of the rule of law is a state solution. So, while black lives do matter, Black Lives Matter misses the mark on all counts. It is time to complain more about the solution than the problem.

The Coexist Cult

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

I was a history major with a minor in religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin. I thoroughly enjoyed my class on the Reformation of Europe as we learned it from a secular Jewish perspective. But as I began to review the curriculum more, I saw that the idea of Coexist was everywhere. I knew then that all religions are not the same; they do not have equal merit. So I decided that I was not going to pursue that major/minor further and changed my major to engineering instead (graduated in 2009). However, I still have a love for the history of ideas, which is the reason I blog.

The idea of Coexist began in Jerusalem in 2000 with a contest for artwork that would describe such an idea. The C in the artwork is the Muslim symbol for Islam, the X is presented as the Star of David that is the symbol for Judaism, and the T represents the Cross, which is the symbol for Christianity. Although the artwork is harmless in appearance it is dangerous in that the religious symbols do not refer to the same God. The attempt to combine all monotheistic religions into one betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of their differences historically and theologically.

coexist 1

Islam does not follow the God of the Bible. Their Quran (9:29) tells Muslims to, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.“

The People of the Book refers to Christians and Jews. Muslims are not supposed to coexist with them without first subjugating them to Islam. ‘Islam’ means to ‘submit’ and that is what people from other religions are supposed to do. There is no coexistence between those who’s religion requires domination and separation. I whole heartedly applaud those who do coexist without violence in Israel but this symbol tells us that the idea of coexistence can be based upon religion, which it cannot. This is a secular fallacy based upon a misunderstanding of God and those who fight ‘the People of God.’

Aspects of the Christian Bible were later perverted by the Gnostic Gospels and included into the Quran. The notion that Jesus did not die on the Cross came from the Gnostic Gospels and are included in the Quran. Jesus paid for the penalty of our sins on the Cross by his death on the Cross. This denial of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is an insurmountable obstacle between the religions of the Christians and Muslims.

During the days of the Crusades, Christians drew the sword in the name of Jesus to defend Europe against invading Muslims armies. Later, the same sword was turned against the Jews in a dark chapter of the history of Christianity. There is no justification for the killing of thousands of Jews and modern Jews distrust Christians for the many massacres that occurred 1,000 years ago. The idea of coexistence between these three monotheistic religions is doomed to failure. Coexistence cannot depend upon religion. It must be a work of God.

From the humble beginnings of a monotheistic idea of coexistence came the introduction of a new set of anti-religious and irreligious symbols for coexistence. The nuclear peace symbol replaced the O; The E is sometimes presented as the symbol for science (e=mc2); the I is topped with a satanic pentagram; and the S is in the shape of the yin/yang. Here, we find an odd mixture of irreligious ideas coupled with religious monotheism.

coexist 2

If one were trying to insult all at once those who practice monotheistic religions, this set of symbols would do it. The group this appeals to most are those who have rejected traditional notions of God for some other form of belief. While there are aspects of religious freedom or tolerance presented here, the satanic ritual of killing cats has nothing in common with Christian, Jewish, or Muslim teachings. The symbolism, in fact, is going from bad to worse and the light of truth is dimming rapidly with it.

Now enter into the mix the idea of gay rights and equality for those who deny the morals of monotheism. The E has been modified with the idea of gay equality. The idea of gay marriage may also associated with the ‘e=’ sign.

coexist 3

The more this symbol changes the less it represents a respect for the person of God in any way. One cannot know who God is without knowing first that God is a Holy God. Morality is not a subject of debate but of obedience. Practicing sin is not practicing any relationship with God. Yes, God is Love but God is also Holy. Homosexuality is neither love nor Holy. It is an immoral lifestyle.

Our societal norms are changing rapidly. Children are being exposed to morally corrupt ideas of social equality that have nothing to do with the love or morality of God. Recently, Google held a contest in which school age students were given a chance to show off their artwork online; a noble thing to be sure. But as this idea of Coexist has devolved in less than 2 decades, we are witnessing through their eyes the deterioration of our societal norms.

coexist 4

A High School age student recently won this competition, rearranging the letters of Coexist to spell out the name of Google adding the symbols of gay and transgendered people to it. Here again, the monotheistic religions are present but snubbed as the perverted notions of the LGBT community are coupled with them. This is an example of the influence of the modern educational system on impressionable children. This is what is being taught to them today.

If you grew up in Sunday School as I did, you learned that God loves all the children of the world. That is what I was taught yesterday.

coexist 8

We even sang:

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

All are precious in his sight,

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

This song carried the lyrics written by Clare Herbert Woolston that were inspired by a verse in the Bible.

Matthew 19:14 (NKJV)

14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The idea of universal love came from Jesus. Yet this idea has been perverted by a modern, godless generation.

One year ago, at a college prep school (Choate, a High School for exceptional students), the idea of diversity was promoted along with the artwork of one of their students (below left). Many colored hands, including the idea of the LGBT rainbow, is depicted in this show of support for diversity. This similar to what has been presented by Christians (below right) for years showing the idea of God’s Love for all people. The colorful hands in the shape of a heart is a symbol reflecting the fact that Jesus Loves the Little Children.

The idea that ‘Jesus loves the little children’ has practical consequences for society. The Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s were supported within the Christian Church using this idea of diversity based upon the Love of God in Jesus Christ. Without the idea that we’re all created in the image of God, unity among diverse people is impossible.

coexist 9

The unity of mankind can only be based upon the fact that all mankind is created in God’s image. That is why Jesus loves all the little children of the world. We are seeing in modern society a shift from the unity of mankind, based upon a respect for God, to a rejection of God in society based upon the cult of coexistence.

The word ‘cult’ like ‘culture’ is based on the word ‘cultus’, which is Latin for ‘religion.’ At the heart of America’s culture is the Judeo-Christian ethic. The LGBT community, seeking inclusion into American society, rejects the culture of American society and refuses to include people of Biblical faith and morals into their vision of a better society.

We are even seeing the old idea of Jesus loving all the children of the world becoming a Christ-less idea of multi-culturalism. Co-opting the message of Christianity without including the person of Jesus Christ, multi-cultural ideas are slowing eroding the Love of God and replacing it with the love of man. The image below on the left is from the idea that Jesus loves the little children of the world. The image below on the right is of multi-culturalism.

coexist 10

The idea of coexistence should depend upon the human heart responding with compassion to the image of God in all of us. Yet the history of the coexist movement has led to a growing rejection of God and His moral identity. God is Love and God is Righteous. Love without righteousness (morals) is sin. The Coexist movement no longer respects the traditions of monotheistic religion, has added irreligious and non-religious symbols (including satanism), and sponsors the immoral ideas of the LGBT movement. Coexist has become a cult that refuses to coexist with a society that believes in a moral God and traditional moral values that define our culture.

The Death of the Lord Jesus

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

The Via Dolorosa, or painful way, is the path tradition says Jesus took through his trial, torture, and final execution. The Passion of Christ begins at Mount Olives and continues through the Garden of Gethsemane and into the Lion’s Gate of the city of Jerusalem, which is at one end of the Via Dolorosa. Through many stations of the cross, representing the many events in the night between his trial and crucifixion, the path along the Via Dolorosa continues until one reaches the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where tradition says Jesus was crucified on the Cross. Pilgrims follow this path during Easter (Pasch) but there another, more accurate route they may follow.

In a previous article, I explain in some detail where the alternate site for Jesus’ crucifixion could be – outside the eastern wall of Jerusalem on a hill near the old Temple. This site, unexcavated, is likely to be the site where the Lord Jesus fulfilled his mission to save mankind by his death on the Cross.

This site is across the street from the Tomb of the Virgin, along Jericho road (Route 417) just outside the old city wall (see map below).

 Golgotha2

The hill just west of the Jericho road and east of the old wall of Jerusalem, is situated between the Ophel road (derech HaOfel) and the Lion’s Gate road (derech Sha’ar HaArayot). This hill, bounded by these 3 roads is also bounded by the Yeusefiya cemetery that is extends along the old city wall. The Lion’s Gate, also called “Sha’ar Ha’aryot” in Hebrew, also referred to as Saint Stephen’s Gate, is where the Via Dolorosa begins and ends at the old city wall.

For more than a millennium, pilgrims have been following the Via Dolorosa along the path described above with the believing that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus occurred at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and not as presented here above. Helena, mother of Constantine, had been told by locals when she visited Jerusalem in the 4th century C.E. of this site northwest of the Temple and pilgrimages have followed her path ever since.

As I have explained in a previous article, this and other sites lack merit for the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. One fact that is missing in two traditional sites for Jesus’ death is the fact that while He was dying, the crowd witnessing His death also witnessed the veil of the Temple being torn. This could not have been seen from sites west of the Temple but it could have been seen by those on top of the hill just outside the Lion’s Gate at the end of the Via Dolorosa.

Josephus speaks of the temple veil:

…before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures. (Wars 5.5.4)

The Jewish Encyclopedia online also speaks of the temple veil:

At the entrance to the outer Temple hung a veil embroidered in blue, white (byssus), scarlet, and purple; the outer Temple was separated from the Holy of Holies by a similar curtain. The outer curtain was folded back on the south side, and the inner one on the north side, so that a priest in entering the Holy of Holies traversed the outer Temple diagonally.

It is clear that there were two veils that were a part of Herod’s Temple in Jesus’ day. Three passages in the Bible refer to the veil being torn in two.

Matthew 27:51-53 (NKJV)

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom;

Mark 15:38 (NKJV)

38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Luke 23:45 (NKJV)

45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

Just which of the two veils was torn in two is made clear from Matthew’s account where he said “behold”. One could not behold the inner veil being torn in two but one could behold the outer veil from outside the Temple if they were to the east of the Temple as it faced the east. And the site of Golgotha suggested as being on the hill at the end of the Via Dolorosa is a perfect site from which the Temple veil could be seen being torn in two. The other two sites for Jesus’ crucifixion west of the Temple cannot account for this event.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem through the Golden Gate and then on Friday we commemorate his passage through the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha where he was crucified. The capture of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, where he and his disciples often gathered, began Passion of Christ. He was taken into the city of Jerusalem either by the Golden Gate or the Lion’s Gate and was escorted through a series of civil (3) and religious (3) trials before being crucified at Golgotha. It should be clear that the final path of the Via Dolorosa led to this hill just outside the Lion’s Gate in a direction opposite what is being followed by pilgrims today. Excavations are needed to confirm this as the actual site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus was likely buried at the Mount of Olives in a garden tomb following his death. The Mount of Olives is the likely place where Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, owned his tomb. Jewish tradition tells us of people from antiquity who wanted to be buried there as interpretations of Zechariah 14:4 suggest that this is where the first resurrection of the dead will occur when the Messiah comes.

Zechariah 14:4 (NKJV)

4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east.

This prophecy was fulfilled and recorded in Matthew 27.

Matthew 27:51-53 (NKJV)

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;

53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Jesus understood throughout His ministry the significance of His travels between Jerusalem and the Garden through the Lion’s Gate as the path He would later take for His crucifixion as His Father told Him. And while Jesus hung on the Cross for the sins of mankind, on the eastern side of the Temple, the Temple was at His right hand and the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, was at His left hand. He was situated in between the Temple and His Resurrection as He was being torn apart for the sins of mankind.

The death of the Lord Jesus is significant, even if we don’t know the exact details of history. The message of the Bible is not one of history, per se, but of divine instruction. The events in which these teachings are presented are true and finding their historic setting is important but not critical. The path Jesus took through His Passion along the Via Dolorosa will continue to be a focus of historians and pilgrims for a long time to come. But the path that Jesus takes to your heart is focus of concern right now. God wants to share His Passion with you!

Please pray this prayer:

God of heaven, I believe in Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for me. I believe that he paid for the penalty of my sin, which I admit I have done. I ask for your forgiveness of my sin and thank you for your love. Please bring me closer to you so that I may know you. By your Holy Spirit, please make in me a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and a right mind that I may do those things that are pleasing to you. Thank you, God, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now my Father in Heaven. Amen!

Happy Hallowed-Christmas?

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

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The idea of a Holy Day is one that gives praise to God. The tradition of All Hallows Eve was one that celebrated those who died in the past year and to prepare for All Souls Day and All Saints Day. All Hallows Eve was observed by the Church on October 31, the same day Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The Christian tradition that once dominated the Holy Eve of All Hallows Eve has now become dominated by the pagan activity of Halloween; turning a Holiday into an Unholy Day. It appears this trend is making its move to the Christmas Holiday season.

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Recently a commercial portrayed a Frankenstein figure gaining acceptance from the town’s people who had once rejected him. This was in the setting of the Christmas season. Clearly, advertisers have no problem confusing the themes of Christmas with Halloween.

The misguided imagination that changed the tradition of All Hallows Eve is apparently misguiding the message of Christmas. All Hallows Eve once celebrated those who are now dead that once served God. Halloween now celebrates all things dead and corrupt. The Frankenstein monster also portrays a false resurrection from the dead with a body that is partially corrupt (decayed).

Now, the Christmas season that celebrates the Son of God who was born to die for the sins of mankind is portrayed with this image of Frankenstein’s monster. Jesus Christ would die on the Cross and raise from the dead without corruption. The Christmas message was one of holiness to God in the celebration of His Son Jesus Christ. Now, Christmas is being invaded with the corrupt figure of the dead gaining acceptance from town folk who were celebrating the Christmas holidays.

I understand that for most people this confusion of themes between All Hallows Eve, Halloween, and Christmas is not that big of a deal. Religion is a burden that most people avoid and tolerate at best. But the whole point of a Holy Day or Holiday is that we celebrate the things of God, not corruption. The traditions we celebrate have a purpose beyond commercialism.

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The idea of a Santa Clause selling Coca-Cola as a large elf was something that came about in the early 1920s. This was modified later in the 1930s and for 30 years Santa Claus was the dominant figure for sales during Christmas. Macy’s portrayed him as the King of the elves and used him as a figure for their commercial needs. This might be more of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, was a Christian minister in Asia Minor during the 4th century. As a servant of Jesus Christ, the images of Santa bowing before the Christ child is appropriate if not historically separated in time.

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The commercialization of Christmas has been a problem for more than a century in America. This is nothing new. But what is new is the introduction of the culture of Halloween into Christmas. Christmas celebrates the gift of God in Jesus Christ. Light and life in Christ is what makes Christmas Holy. The death of Christ on the Cross and his Resurrection is what makes us Holy. But the darkness and celebration of death during Halloween leads to corruption. Add a false resurrection with the Frankenstein monster to the celebration and the message of mankind’s redemption is lost. The confusion of themes is not trivial.

Let’s continue to celebrate Christmas despite the many problems associated with it. The Puritans once dismissed it because it introduced many pagan customs and didn’t represent the Holy Day of Jesus’ birth like it should. Even so, there is never a problem with celebrating the gift of God in the person of Jesus, the newborn son of God. Let’s celebrate Christmas and keep it Holy unto God.

Merry Christmas!

The New Deal – a Violation of the Separation of Church and State

© Original content written by James R. Carlsonprogressives-lost

Remember that the Progressive Party Lost this Election Nationwide

Government run charity has an odd history. It was once practiced in the 18th century under the rule of a State Church where funding was given to the Church by State taxation. Tithing to fund American Churches was not practiced until the mid-1800s. This was after the separation of Church and State in Revolutionary Virginia (1786) led to the complete disestablishment of State Churches everywhere in the United States by 1833. Afterwards, Churches sought new income via new methods such as tithes and offerings. This allowed for the funding of more social work and eventually to social gospels that characterized much of the American Church in the early 1900s. However, as Church/State separation removed the payment of tithes and offerings to fund State run charitable activities in the 18th century, we’ve witness a renewal of such funding of State run charities by taxation. It’s called the New Deal. The social gospels were incorporated into the Progressive Movement that led to the New Deal of the mid-1900s. And the work of the New Deal is in violation of the separation of Church and State.

Following the War for American Independence and the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain politically, came another movement for America’s Independence from the State Church of England. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration in 1776, also drafted a Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia in 1777. Following principles from luminaries of the past like Roger Williams, Jefferson’s ‘Bill’ drew the attention and support of fellow Virginian James Madison.

Madison would eventually help draft the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment to that constitution in 1791 that included the provisions for religious freedom. But in 1784, as Patrick Henry introduced as Bill that would fund the Teachers of the Christian religion with taxpayer dollars, Madison sprang into action following Jefferson’s Bill and principles and circulated his own Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments. His work proved successful in January 1786 when the Commonwealth of Virginia removed control of the Church in Virginia from the Virginia Legislature.

Madison’s Memorial outlined 15 arguments against taxing people to fund religion through the government. A few are presented here:

7 Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Inquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive State in which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall. On which Side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for or when against their interest?

11 Because it will destroy that moderation and harmony which the forbearance of our laws to intermeddle with Religion has produced among its several sects. Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish Religious discord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinion. Time has at length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to assuage the disease. The American Theater has exhibited proofs that equal and complete liberty, if it does not wholly eradicate it, sufficiently destroys its malignant influence on the health and prosperity of the State. If with the salutary effects of this system under our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of Religious freedom, we know no name that will too severely reproach our folly. At least let warning be taken at the first fruits of the threatened innovation. The very appearance of the Bill has transformed “that Christian forbearance, love and charity,” which of late mutually prevailed, into animosities and jealousies, which may not soon be appeased. What mischiefs may not be dreaded, should this enemy to the public quiet be armed with the force of a law?

12 Because the policy of the Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it with the number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of revelation from coming into the Region of it; and countenances by example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them. Instead of Levelling as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress of Truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity would circumscribe it with a wall of defense against the encroachments of error.

Madison was saying in essence that to support charity (11) and religious instruction (7) by government funding would cause people to be less likely to contribute to the Church (7); and forcing people to attend Church would make people less likely to do so (12).

The Baptists in Virginia echoed the sentiments of Madison and circulated his Memorial and their own Memorials saying the same thing. Baptists, like Jefferson and Madison, were familiar with Roger Williams who built the first Baptist Church in North American in his colony of Rhode Island. They each followed his basic tenants for religious freedom, which is why Jefferson quoted Williams when writing to the Baptists in Connecticut in 1802. Religious freedom meant an end to government taxation for funding the religious or charitable work of the Church through the State; a separation of Church and State. This allowed the freedom of the Church to flourish and do more than the state could do by tax or force.

However, the Church that was once funded by the State had to discover new methods of raising funds to pay for religious and charitable work. Renting or selling pews, annual subscription of members, and other methods were tried until the collecting of tithes was chosen as the best resource. Until then, the American Church had not been funded by the voluntary giving of tithes; this was just before the Civil War. Voluntary funding of the religious institutions of the Church helped pay for aid to the poor, the sick, and other needy functions that the State once provided to the Church by taxation.

While these good works are laudable, they opened the door to a new type of gospel called the Social Gospel. While the message of Jesus included aid to the poor and the sick, his message was one of salvation not social justice. Good works are good but they are not necessary for salvation. Charity is a fruit of salvation but not necessary for one’s eternal redemption.

However, social gospel movements that focused more on charity than on salvation led to Social Gospels in distinction to the salvation Gospel of Jesus Christ. These were incorporated into the political movement call Progressivism, which became the foundation for the New Deal in the 1930s. And it was from the strong-arm politics the New Deal that changed the way government has handled the issues of Welfare ever since.

Written into the U.S. Constitution is the idea of promoting the general welfare. It is first found in the Preamble to the Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The idea of ‘general welfare’ came from the reformation. John Calvin’s Commentary on Psalm 145:14 presents his view of ‘general welfare.’

Jehovah upholding all the falling. He gives instances of the goodness and mercy of God, such as make it evident that God reigns only for the promotion of the general welfare of mankind. By the falling, and those who are bowed down, he means figuratively those who are overwhelmed by adversity, and would sink at once, were not God to extend his hand for their support. God, in short, has respect to the troubles of men, and helps such as are in distress, so that all ought not only to look upon his divine government with reverence, but willingly and cordially submit themselves to it. Another lesson taught us is, that none will be disappointed who seeks comfort from God in his affliction.

This idea of ‘general welfare’ is also found in the Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, and is often referred to as the General Welfare clause.

The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.

Madison and Jefferson both understood General Welfare as limiting the spending powers of the government, not expanding them limitlessly. The Constitution prescribes what spending powers the Congress has and it limits those powers to the list of enumerated powers.

Congress has power to spend tax money for the General Welfare, which is spelled out in detail. This was meant to support the general needs of people and not specific needs. The work of aiding the poor and the sick was considered to be special welfare, not general welfare, and not within the powers of the government. However, the New Deal broke with this legal tradition and began a new course of legislation for our country.

The New Deal Congress had new political powers during the Great Depression. Along with the New Deal President, Franklin Roosevelt, they used these new powers in a nearly dictatorial manner. The Supreme Court, however, blocked much of their New Deal legislation as un-Constitutional. But they too would bend to the force of political power about to be used against them.

In 1936 in United States v. Butler, the Court said that Congress was in violation of the 10th Amendment and overruled the legislation for farm appropriations. Although this limited the New Deal’s efforts, this decision opened the doors for broad spending powers of Congress within the General Welfare Clause. Special welfare was still not allowed, only general welfare; but that too would soon change. Leading the cause against the New Deal legislation was Justice Roberts whose vote broke a tie between the liberals and conservatives on the Court.

However, two months after President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his court-reform bill, Justice Roberts, who opposed New Deal legislation, changed his votes to support New Deal legislation in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (March 1937). In this case, Justice Roberts stood with the liberals and broke ranks with the conservatives to support minimum wage legislation. This ended the era where the Court prevented government intrusion into private business affairs. Robert’s apparent change of heart has since been called a, “switch in time that saved nine,” when faced with Roosevelt’s court packing scheme of appointing new justices to bring the court to 15 members.

Later that same year, Roberts supported the majority in Helvering v. Davis (May 1937) that approved of Social Security stating Congress had broad powers for spending tax dollars on General Welfare and that it did not contravene the 10th Amendment. While many objected to this and other New Deal legislation on the grounds that they were supporting Special Welfare and not General Welfare, the Supreme Court no longer objected to the aggressive Acts of a New Deal President and Congress.

These rulings in the mid-1930s have opened the door to tax funded government charities that should have been left to the Church and not run by the State. These Acts have led to a combination of Church and State in violation of the principles spelled out by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in Revolutionary Virginia. As such, one may easily regard the use of tax funded government run charities as a violation of the separation of Church and State.

As predicted by Madison and others, government run religious functions cause people to grow weary of their measures and less likely to support them. The charity to the poor has grown to become an entitlement of the state to poor people who are now slaves of the welfare state. Those who rely upon the charity of the State for health care do so with little value in that care. Medicine has become less of a charity and more of a business. Many more activities that should belong to private charities have been undermined by the work of the State charities. The willingness of people to give to charities has been undermined. And the social mores of our country have gone downhill as the government led by the social gospel of the New Deal Progressives have progressively dismissed the morals of the Bible and the purpose of salvation in the Gospel, which is the forgiveness of sin.

It may be too much to ask our present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Roberts, to return to the decision in King V. Burwell (2015), in which he proclaimed the Affordable Care Act (ACA or ObamaCare) to be a tax. It remains for the Court to decide if that tax is Constitutional according to Article 1, Section 8.

It would probably be too much to ask the Court to reverse New Deal decisions 80 years ago and return to a Constitutional prescription of government that leads to the legal health of our nation. But as we will have a new President under a new Congress perhaps they can ask for a review of the Court’s decision; perhaps we could get a ruling that overturns the entire New Deal foundation and limits General Welfare to those spending powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. This may be the last best opportunity to overturn the ‘switch in time that saved nine’, to limit the work of ‘government run charity’ for ‘special welfare’, and overturn ObamaCare. But will they do it? One can always ask.

Praying Hands

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

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Original Artwork by Albrecht Durer (1508)

The story behind the artwork of the Praying Hands is one of love. The symbol of the folded hands represents prayer and so much more. It represents self-sacrifice and fidelity for the love of another. This symbol, used Albrecht Durer’s painting (1508), represents the devotion of man and the love of God.

Wedding rituals in medieval Europe borrowed traditions that were meant for other purposes. The ritual of homage where a vassal pledged himself to a Lord was accompanied by the symbol of hands being placed together, palm to palm, as a sign of dedication. This ritual was later used in weddings where the bride placed her hands together as the groom covered them with his own hands in a sign of mutual devotion and fidelity. Together, they would offer themselves in homage to the Lord Jesus in their bond of marriage.

This tradition was familiar to Albrecht Durer and these hands of homage and fidelity are famous in his painting of praying hands. It portrays an oath of fealty between the person praying and God. As God hears our prayers, He surrounds us with his Spirit and blesses us as we pray according to his will. This is a beautiful symbol of love and devotion between God and mankind. However, there is another story behind Durer’s famous painting.

When Albrecht was a little boy, he and his brother Albert made a pact to become artists. They agreed to toss a coin to see who would go to school and who would work in the mines to pay for the other boy’s education. They tossed the coin after Church and Albrecht won. He promised to pay for his brother’s tuition after graduating school 4 years later either with his success as an artist or by going down in the mines himself.

Sadly, when the time came, Albert had lost almost all use of his hands due to the hard working conditions in the mines. Albrecht tried to keep his promise but Albert refused. The hands that Albrecht painted were possibly of his brother’s broken fingers as a symbol of his fidelty. And although we typically see this painting and others like it as a symbol of prayer and devotion, it is a reminder of the fidelity of 2 brothers who sacrificed for one other.

The story of sacrifice is powerful. Jesus said that no greater love has anyone than to give his life for his friends. Jesus took upon himself the curse of our sin at the Cross and paid the penalty of death for us that me might be liberated from the slavery and bondage of sin. We can receive the gift of forgiveness and ask God to pardon us according to the work of Jesus on the Cross. God will forgive you in the name of Jesus who was broken for our sins. And as Jesus rose from the dead, He will give you a new life led by his Holy Spirit.

Praying for forgiveness is the Will of God for your life. Asking God is what prayer is all about. God is already devoted to you and simply seeks an opportunity to share His devotion with you. When you pay homage to God by asking Jesus to become the Lord of your life, you become married to a divine partner in the Spirit who will walk with you throughout all eternity. The story of praying hands is one of homage, devotion, sacrifice, and love.

Please pray this prayer:

God of heaven, I believe in Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for me. I believe that he paid for the penalty of my sin, which I admit I have done. I ask for your forgiveness of my sin and thank you for your love. Please bring me closer to you so that I may know you. By your Holy Spirit, please make in me a clean heart, a renewed spirit, and a right mind that I may do those things that are pleasing to you. Thank you God, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and now my Father in Heaven. Amen!

 

My Country Tis’ of Thee – America’s First National Anthem

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

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One hundred years before the national anthem that Francis Scott Key wrote (The Star Spangled Banner) was approved in 1931, “America” (My Country Tis’ of Thee) was the national anthem of America. First sung in public in 1831, it was modeled after the British anthem “God save the Queen.” The principles espoused and celebrated for 100 years in this song represent the heart of the American people during that time.

The song begins with the phrase, ‘My country, ’tis of thee…’ meaning that the United States of America was born of the power of God – Tis of Thee (God). This song praises the blessings of liberty that were given to us by God at our founding. The conclusion of this song identifies God as the ‘…author of liberty, to thee we sing.’ God is the reason why the United States was born but why we have liberty as a nation.

Our liberty has never been one of license. The contemporary libertarian philosophy (social liberalism and fiscal conservatism) is one of pseudo-anarchy that dismisses morality in pursuit of liberty. Our first national anthem presented an understanding that our liberty was based upon morality and God’s Holiness when it said, ‘…long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light…’ We don’t have the freedom to do whatever we want. We have the freedom to do what is right! That is what self-government is all about. Not doing whatever you please but behaving yourself in the sight of God so that you don’t need a government to govern your behavior.

The United States was born as a nation “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence” [Declaration of Independence]. The original national anthem included a prayer asking God to ‘protect us by Thy might…’ As a nation we prayed for God’s continued provision and divine Providence for the defense and security of our nation.

The song ended with the phrase, ‘Great God our King.’ We were no longer under the mighty hand of the kings and queens of England but under the King of Eternity – God Himself would protect us.

This anthem has endured for 185 years since it first began. As we celebrate the 4th of July, let us sing it with heartfelt thanks to the Founder Father of our nation and Protector of our liberty – God. Thanks be to God our King for His many blessings. May they continue to endure.

 

Lyrics to My Country Tis’ of Thee

 

My country, ’tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,

From ev’ry mountainside

Let freedom ring!

 

My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

 

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees

Sweet freedom’s song;

Let mortal tongues awake;

Let all that breathe partake;

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

 

Our fathers’ God to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing.

Long may our land be bright,

With freedom’s holy light,

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God our King.