If you have been following Philadelphia Church of God's recent media blitz you would imagine that they have once and for all proven that they are the one true church because they have been participating in a dig in Jerusalem for several years with Dr Eliat Mazar. No other COG understands biblical archeology or truth better than the PCG.
The Times of Israel is reporting about PCG's new exhibit in the Armstrong Auditorium lobby.
A rare world premiere exhibit of ancient biblical-era artifacts was launched this week at the Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, Oklahoma. Located in the middle of lush green fields, the massive, pillared auditorium — complete with a water sculpture at its entrance — is an unlikely forum for the first ever display of tangible proof of the biblical King Hezekiah and Prophet Isaiah.
For the first time in the world, seal impressions or bullae discovered in 2009-2010 in Jerusalem’s Old City at the Ophel excavations conducted under Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar are on show to the general public in the exhibit “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered.” Other finds, such as a large cache of 2,000-year-old coins from the Jewish revolt discovered earlier this year in a cave near the Ophel, are also having their premiere.
Still more rare First Temple Period artifacts are also on display, largely taken from Tel Lachish and Tel Beersheva excavations. The weapons, ceramics and weigh stones are striking. But the explainer films, interactive programmed tablets, reproductions of key finds, including the British Museum’s Lachish relief, as well as a huge scale cross-section of Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem, all shore up the historicity of the biblical story and the 8th century BCE Assyrian siege. This narrative is clearly spelled out in the showcases throughout the attractive auditorium lobby.The article goes on to mention that the PCG has dropped over a $500,000.00 in putting on this production. A half million dollars in tithe money that the poorer PCG members struggle to send in.
The exhibit is the fruit of a 50-year partnership between a group of steadfast Christians and generations of the archaeological Mazar family. And it is impressive.
But who will see it?When the Ambassador Foundation put on exhibits from Thailand and China in the 1980's it had a ready audience by the fact it was in the middle of the Los Angeles basin. Thousands came to see the exhibits. PCG is right in the centre of cow pattie fields.
Now take a look at how many the PCG expects to have in attendance:
Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City, is located smack dab in the Bible Belt. Several church bus tours are already scheduled to make their way there, according to the exhibit’s curator, Brad MacDonald, bringing 40-50 visitors each.
But in conversation in Jerusalem the day after the grand opening, vice president of the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation Stephen Flurry seems untroubled when he estimates that only some 10-15 individuals will trickle in each day.After the Herbert Armstrong College students and local PCG members all stop by to the see the exhibit, scant few of the public will ever see it.
The Times of Jerusalem goes on to state that far more will see it online than ever in person:
That’s where the exhibit’s smart online presence takes up the gauntlet.
Interested surfers can attend the exhibit virtually through its dramatic YouTube videos, highlighting the thoughtful artifact display and the surrounding explanatory material.
In many ways, the Armstrong Foundation’s online presence is of much more relevance than its onsite exhibit.The Times of Jerusalem also states a fact that PCG refuse to acknowledge, what if their biblical "facts" are not necessarily true?
Only a click or two brings a viewer to a seemingly endless font of information about the artifacts themselves and the biblical history. It is all housed on the WatchJerusalem.com website, one of the several media outlets connected to the foundation, its associated Philadelphia Church of God, and its seminary, the Herbert W. Armstrong College.
There is no pretense of scientific skepticism in the exhibit. The foundation’s goal is to “bring the Bible to life,” says Flurry, who lives outside of Birmingham, United Kingdom, at a second Armstrong College seminary.The article also questions the disproportional amount of money spent on the Jerusalem digs:
The Philadelphia Church of God poured half a million dollars into supporting the excavations this year, including student expenses. Flurry estimates many tens of thousands more were spent on this exhibit. These expenses are disproportionately large swaths of the church budget, which flows from a 5,000-strong membership and up to 20,000 additional donors.Brad McDonald justifies the money spent by stating that they want to get young people engaged in biblical history by making it "sexy".
“We are actively looking for opportunities to play a role or collaborate and make it sexy — something young people can get into,” says MacDonald.The Times of Jerusalem also goes on to state that the PCG and Eilat Mazar may have "suspended belief" by some of their dogmatic statements about the artifacts.
Suspension of disbelief
Accuracy is definitely the goal in all research, including archaeology. But when the subjects of study are long dead, many facets are open to interpretation.
The main stars of the Oklahoma exhibit, the Hezekiah and Isaiah seal impressions, are one such example. Could they really have belonged to the biblical king and his chief adviser?Dr. Eliat Mazar says:
According to Mazar, “the identification of the seal impression of King Hezekiah is very certain, beyond any shadow of doubt, as you can read for yourself.” She reads out the clear Hebrew inscription at the King David event, “‘Belonging to King Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, King of Judah.'”
The other seal, she acknowledges, is much less certain. Upon its publication earlier this year as a goodbye present to the longtime, retiring editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review Hershel Shanks, the claim that the seal impression was connected to the famous prophet was met with skepticism. In her King David Hotel presentation, Mazar herself introduces the find as “maybe the seal impression by Prophet Isaiah.”It's all a "may be!" Now there is a good Church of God statement! That's standard operating procedure for most COG prophets who spout nonsense today.
Suspended belief, no pretense of skepticism, and over half million dollars spent. What more could we expect from a Church of God in 2018?
Read the entire article here: Why a world premiere of precious biblical artifacts is in quiet Oklahoma