Insight on the News
Greece’s “Christian” Fire Walkers
● “Frenzied dancing on a carpet of burning coals in the center of the village” is the way a recent Associated Press dispatch described the scene. Pagan rites in some Asiatic land? No, they are Greek “firewalkers” celebrating the Greek Orthodox holiday of Saints Helen and Constantine. After embracing images of the two “saints,” the fire walkers are said to go into a “trance-like state.” This custom began in the 13th century when fire burned through a Bulgarian village, including a church dedicated to the two “saints.” When some men allegedly heard the images “groan,” they braved the fire to rescue them and supposedly came out unburned.
Greek Orthodox authorities brand the custom as “idolatrous” and “pagan.” Yet, is the Church guiltless when it encourages the use of images in the first place? Clearly, God knew the mind of men when he commanded his people not to make any graven images, saying: “You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them.”—Ex. 20:4, 5.
Firsthand Experience Surprises
● Often people base their opinions of other persons or groups on what they have heard or read, without ever having made real contact. A United Methodist minister recently admitted this to be the case for him regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I even taught a short course comparing the teachings of the Witnesses and those of our United Methodist Church,” he wrote in the Methodist periodical “The Circuit Rider.” “But until this year I had never been inside one of their halls.” So he and his wife attended a meeting at a Kingdom Hall to see for themselves.
“We were not prepared for what we sensed as a genuine caring on the part of these people. At no time, however, did we feel under any pressure from them. . . . we felt a more true welcome from them than in any of the 20 other congregations we had visited during our sabbatical. . . .
“My primal picture of the Witness has been of a compulsive automaton, reciting his list of prooftexts. That picture was shattered by this congregation of warmly-smiling, relaxed people who obviously cared deeply about each other and the stranger, even as they cared intensely to understand God’s Word.
“There was a third surprise. My impression had been that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were so preoccupied with their dates and prophecies of last things that they gave little attention to other biblical teachings and to the spirit of our Lord himself. The discussion they held on the morning of our first visit showed that my surmise was not based on fact; indeed more emphasis was being placed on having the mind of Jesus than is often evident in our classes. . . . Our experience suggests there may be more to the appeal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses than their neatly packaged doctrines.”—September 1978, p. 9.
● New details have come to light about the long-exposed hoax of evolution’s so-called Piltdown Man. Blame for perpetrating the hoax, which misled many scientists for decades, had been attributed solely to a lawyer, Arthur Dawson. However, new information indicates that a decidedly unscientific clash between two scientists was also involved.
A professor who worked closely at Oxford University with Professor William Sollas recently revealed that the latter harbored hatred for Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology at the British Museum. Woodward had lightly dismissed an invention of Sollas, who apparently decided on retaliating with “a trap set by one eminent geologist to make a monkey out of another,” as the New York “Times” describes it.
Sollas is said to have made the forgery, which Dawson later “found.” Woodward was deceived and backed the find with all his Museum authority. Thousands of evolutionists accepted Piltdown Man as evolutionary fact from 1912 until the mid-1950’s, when it was finally exposed. If scientists can so gullibly accept such “evidence” to support their pet theories, should we be so gullible as to accept everything science says in contradiction of the Bible?