Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Focus on a living God, not a dead man's bones

This is the epitome of empty religiosity...

Pope: Bone Fragments Found in Tomb Are Paul's

ROME — The first-ever scientific test on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul "seems to confirm" that they do indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.
Benedict said archaeologists recently unearthed and opened the white marble sarcophagus located under the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, which for some 2,000 years has been believed by the faithful to be the tomb of St. Paul.

Benedict said scientists had conducted carbon dating tests on bone fragments found inside the sarcophagus and confirmed that they date from the first or second century.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul," Benedict said, announcing the findings at a service in the basilica to mark the end of the Vatican's Paoline year, in honor of the apostle.

Seriously? So there are a couple of bone fragments in a tomb and carbon dating says they are from somewhere in the 1st or 2nd century. So we know they are bones, I assume human bones, and that they from a two hundred year period that coincides with the life and death of Paul. The “scientific tests” prove nothing other than these are old bones. The rest is left to tradition. The basilica was built by Constantine, who lived from 272 to 337 and became emperor in 306. Paul died around 65 A.D. So a couple of shards of bones are under a building that was erected at least 240 years after the death of Paul constitutes scientific proof to support a tradition that is irrelevant to Christians. Our focus is on a living Christ, not a dead man's bones.

Even if these are somehow the bones of Paul, which is incredibly doubtful, he would be mortified at the fuss made over them, with the fancy basilica erected over what are purported to be his bones. Paul’s mission was about the Risen Christ, not the bones of men long dead. What should we make of men who worship the worldly remains of dead men? You can try to duck around it by calling in “veneration” but it boils down to worship.

Paul’s legacy is not in a couple of shards of bone under an ornate edifice erected in Rome. Paul’s legacy to us are his inspired writings that teach us some of the great doctrines of God and show us a wonderful example of the servant leadership God’s people are called to. If you want to honor Paul, preach the Gospel. That is all the honor he would ever want.

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