Tag Archives: Roman Catholic

Bethlehem and Shrines

Shrines. Throughout the lands where Bible events transpired church buildings have been erected over this or that “sacred spot.” These buildings, whether in Jerusalem, Nazareth or Bethlehem are little more than show places. Tourists stream through them at a steady rate observing the ancient ornamentation.

In Bethlehem the traditional place where Jesus was born, now covered by the Basilica of the Nativity, would hardly remind one of anything he reads in the New Testament. The visitor now finds a building which reveals “a succession of slow decay and hasty repairs” The Middle East, 1966 ed., 622). In this building he sees mosaics with gold backgrounds dating from the 12th century, and art of the middle ages. The ruins of the large buildings erected by Justinian in the 6th century simply serve to cover the 4th century building by Constantine. The student of church history never forgets that all of this was the activity of an apostate church and does not reflect New Testament Christianity.

Their value. The shrines do serve a useful purpose. We have no record to indicate that the earliest Christians built any shrines at the sites associated with the ministry of Jesus. One can imagine, however, that fathers would tell their sons and that residents would tell visitors where certain events happened. If this information was faithfully transmitted from the first to the fourth century when the first shrines were erected, then the shrine has kept alive the memory till now.

The shrines have preserved sites, which if left in the open would have eroded or been damaged or built over so that the memory would be lost.

This photo shows the interior of the Greek Orthodox Church that is said to be built over the birthplace of Jesus.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our study about Bethlehem brings to our mind the reality of the earthly ministry of Jesus. In Bethlehem we see the expression of the love of God who sent His own son to the earth.

The next photo shows the Armenian chapel in the Church of the Nativity. It stands between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Armentian altar in the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Armenian altar in the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shepherd One?

While working in my study this morning I noted that the news media is giving much attention to the visit of Benedict XVI to the USA. It is difficult to tell if the head of the Roman Catholic Church is the head of a political state or a spiritual leader.

I was surprised to hear that the jet that the pope flies on is called Shepherd One. Makes me wonder. If Jesus got a jet what would it be called. Maybe Servant One.

Jesus said,

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Peter is the supposed first pope according to Catholic theology. This is a claim not sustained by the Bible. Peter claimed to be a fellow shepherd, but that Jesus is the chief shepherd.

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

The photo below, taken at the Nazareth Village, shows a shepherd tending his flock.

Shepherd tends his flock at the Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.