The British Museum, the Louvre, & the Bible

The British Museum in London is one of the greatest museums in the world. It includes the Roseta Stone, which broke the code to reading Egyptian Hieroglyphics, as well as Easter Island statues, and many things of biblical significance. It’s also completely free to the public!

My daughter Hope in front of one of the winged bulls of Assyria at the British Museum

There are so many things of biblical significance in the British Museum that there are entire books dedicated to the subject, such as:

The British Museum: Depiction of the Capture of Lachish from Sennacharib’s Palace in Nineveh

In 2 Kings 18, the Bible tells the story of how Sennacharib, King of Assyria attacked Hezekiah, King of Judah, and that at this time, Sennacharib captured the city of Lachish (2 Kings 18:13) and made it his base of operations in Judah (2 Kings 18:14).

Sennacharib, 2 Kings 19 tells us, tried to intimidate Hezekiah into submission and sent him a threatening letter. The Prophet Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah to defy Sennacharib, and he prophesied Sennacharib’s fall.

In the British Museum, you can see sculptures and base reliefs from Sennacharib’s palace in Nineveh (the capital of Assyria, the same place where Jonah went and against which Nahum prophesied), which depict the Assyrian capture of Lachish.

Interestingly, another item which is held in the British Museum is the annals of Sennacharib, which describe his conquest of much of Judah. These annals mention how he made Jerusalem pay tribute to him (recorded in 2 Kings 18), but while they chronicle the many cities he succeeded in conquering, Jerusalem is left out of the list – which is exactly what the Bible says in 2 Kings 18-19.

The importance of these artifacts, in other words, is that the corroborate the fact that the Bible is historically accurate.

Here are the sermons I preached on 2 Kings 18 & 19 in our “Desiring the Kingdom” series:

The Louvre: The Moabite Stone

In a previous post I showed some of the famous paintings in the Louvre Museum in Paris which wrongly depict Bible stories: Bible Stories Gone Wrong in the Louvre

But the Louvre is more than just an art museum, it is also an archaeology museum, including items of incredible significance, such as Hammurabi’s Code and Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus.

There are also items in the Louvre of biblical relevance, such as the “Moab Stone,” which bears one of the oldest written references to the Kingdom of Israel. It mentions specifically a victory which Moab had in a battle against the Israel, whom it refers to as the House of Omri.

This parallels a story found in 2 Kings 3.

Omri was the sixth king of Israel, and the most famous king to come from the House of Omri was Ahab, who famously tried to convert Israel into a pagan nation, with Baal worship as its official religion. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18, in which God sent fire from heaven upon a sacrifice as a sign that He alone is God.

Another important element of the Moabite Stone is that it refers to Yahweh as the God of Israel.

These and other items in these museums help us to see that the Bible is trustworthy and accurate, and as archaeologists make more discoveries, those discovers validate, rather than contradict, the historicity of the Biblical accounts.

Masters Graduation & Why Americans Should Consider British Theology Schools

Earlier this month I traveled to London with my wife and 3 of our kids for my graduation ceremony from London School of Theology (University of Middlesex).

I had already graduated last November with a Master of Arts in Integrative Theology, but the ceremony was postponed until now because of the pandemic. As a result, it was a small ceremony, with most of the graduates not attending in person.

For more on what Integrative Theology is, see this episode of the Theology for the People Podcast: Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions about Faith and the Bible.

This is my second degree that I’ve done in the British system; I got my BA in Theology years ago from the University of Gloucestershire in the west of England.

London School of Theology (LST) is the largest non-denominational evangelical divinity school in Europe, and there were students from all over Europe and the world in my masters program, including several from the United States.

Sometimes people ask me why I chose to study in the UK rather than in the US. Part of the reason is because I began my theological studies while I was living in Hungary, and the UK was closer than the US. However, I chose to go back to school in the UK for my masters primarily because of cost, the ability to study fully online, and quality of education.

I currently have three American friends who are pursuing post-graduate degrees in the UK, one at LST, another in Oxford, and the other in Birmingham. I would recommend that more Americans consider studying theology in the United Kingdom for a few key reasons:

No Separation of Church & State = Lower Cost

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom does not have “separation of church and state.” So whereas there might be more practicing Christians in the United States, on paper the US is a more secular state. The UK has a state church, with ties between the government and that church, e.g. the role of the monarch as the head of the church and the presence of Anglican bishops in the House of Lords. What this all amounts to is that the UK is, at least on paper, an officially Christian nation, whereas the United States is an officially secular nation.

One of the results of the separation of church and state in the United States is that public universities cannot have theological seminaries; at best they can have courses on subjects like “comparative religions.” For this reason, all theological seminaries in the United States are private schools, or part of private universities, which means no government funding, and higher cost for the student.

Since the United Kingdom does not having a separation of church and state, many public universities (e.g. Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham) have theological colleges (AKA departments), which amounts to a lower cost for the student. Many of these schools are highly respected, such as Nottingham, which has a great program in systematic theology, and LST which also has a great reputation around the world.

Furthermore, I was able to register for LST as a Hungarian citizen before the UK left the EU, which meant I qualified for subsidies as a “domestic student.” I’m not sure how or if things have changed for European students now as a result of Brexit.

British Education & British Evangelicalism

Perhaps I am biased, but I prefer the British higher education system. In undergraduate studies, they do not require “prerequisites” like American schools do, which means that the focus of your entire undergrad program is in your chosen field of study. In other words, if you study theology in England, you won’t have to take any math classes. Furthermore, the British system tends to have fewer homework assignments, and most of the assignments are essay writing. Undergrad students often write a dissertation research project to get their BA.

British evangelicalism has held onto the key facets of evangelical (meaning: gospel-focused) beliefs, such as the primacy and inerrancy of Scripture and the need for people to be born again by grace through faith, in a way that has avoided much of the politicalization of American evangelicalism. LST, for example, was founded by evangelical pastor John Stott, and is the alma mater of well-known Bible teacher Alister Begg.

If you are considering a theological education, I’d recommend looking into some options in the UK. I’m glad I did.

Finished with School!

Three years ago I wrote this post announcing that I would continue my theological education at London School of Theology, to get a Masters in Integrative Theology.

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This was a 3-year program, and earlier this week I submitted my dissertation, which I worked on for the past year. I learned so much over the past three years, but I am also glad to be finished.

The title of my dissertation was “Views on the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Reformation and Patristic Periods, and What They Mean for Theology Today”

Working on my dissertation is the main reason why I have not been writing as much lately on this blog.

Now that I’m done with school, I intend to write more, including several articles based on the topic of my dissertation, in case you’re curious what the “perspicuity of Scripture” is or what conclusions I came to.

I just hope they won’t cancel the graduation ceremony, as a trip to London when I was finished was part of how I got my wife and kids on board with supporting me to do this program!

Preaching While the Bombs Fell

Just a few blocks from Buckingham Palace and a short walk from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey is a building which has been used to influence London and the world greatly.

Westminster Chapel, pastored by G. Campbell Morgan and then by Martyn Lloyd-Jones has served as a light to the city of London and to the UK for over 150 years.

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It was G. Campbell Morgan who invited Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who had studied to be a medical doctor rather than a minister, to come and serve with him and be his successor at Westminster Chapel.

Lloyd-Jones was from Wales, and had been serving at a small village church there. At the time, doctors were considered the true heroes of society, whereas Christianity was already in steep decline in Britain. To give up a career in medicine to pastor a small church was considered a fools errand by many, but Ll0yd-Jones’ decision to become a pastor rather than work as a medical doctor had been aided by something he had witnessed from one of his mentors as he was studying to be a doctor:

He witnessed a doctor who was at the top of his field, the most respected position in that society, who supposedly “had it all” – and yet he had fallen into despondency, hopelessness and depression because of a failed marriage. Having witnessed this, Lloyd-Jones would later say, helped him to decide that he wanted to help people in a way that went beyond just caring for their physical bodies, he wanted to be a doctor for the soul.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones became the pastor of Westminster Chapel in 1939, right before the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The people of Great Britain knew what was coming: they had seen the aggressiveness of the German military, the how the Luftwaffe had no qualms about bombing highly populated areas. They knew that soon the war would probably come to London, and they were right.

In 1939, Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a series of sermons which prepared his people for the war. He told them that whether the German bombs killed them or not, they should be prepared to stand before God, and he urged them to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ as their hope.

Throughout the war, as people evacuated London, Martyn Lloyd-Jones continued to preach to those who gathered at Westminster Chapel. On one occasion, a bomb fell only a few yards from the church during a service, causing the plaster from the roof to fall on the heads of the congregation. When the bomb hit, Lloyd-Jones was praying. He paused for a moment, and then finished his prayer, and went on to preach his entire sermon.

Theologian J.I. Packer sat under Lloyd-Jones’ ministry and called him “the greatest man I ever knew – not just brilliant, but wise.”

Westminster Chapel continues its ministry in its efforts to be “a prophetic voice to London, the UK and the nations.” Their website here.

A documentary was made about Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ life and ministry a few years ago called Logic on Fire. Here’s the trailer for it:

The Song Sung Over London

Big Ben is the most famous clock in the world. It towers over the city of London, over Westminster Abbey and the Parliament.

What most people, in fact, what most Londoners don’t know, is that the music in the chimes that keep the time of Big Ben are from an old hymn: “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth”, from Handel’s “Messiah”.1

Every day, Londoners set their clocks and schedule their lives based on a tune about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that sings out multiple times every day over that great city which is arguably the ‘center of the world’.

I will be preaching on the text from which the title of that song is taken this Sunday at White Fields Church in Longmont. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us!

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1. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-18968027