Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: The Amazing Bible Timeline

Before I begin this review I would like to vent and whine and complain a moment. I already wrote this review once, on my laptop. While doing some last minute double checking on the internet, a virus demon literally seized my computer and possessed it. I suddenly had all of these warnings and fake Microsoft pages coming up, using Microsoft icons and broken English, telling me I needed to enter my credit card number to be protected…yada-yada-yada. It even changed my background picture to this huge warning with further poor grammar, telling me all my personal data is invaded with spyware. Our firewall protection won’t run and it is all froze up. I am not a happy camper! Why do people set out to infest our lives with such malicious technology? Argh! I realize that this is completely unrelated to the subject at hand, but, “it’s my [blog] and I can cry if I want to!” It isn't as if I just have loads of free time, you know!

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, let me try (AGAIN!) to do this product justice…

I was very pleased when I opened the long skinny box that came in the mail revealing The Amazing Bible Timeline. A chronological history of mankind from Adam until the present-- it is amazingly compact (37”x45”) for all the information it contains. We own a similar book with a pull out chronology, a good 12 feet in length, that for years I have wanted to mount so we could refer to it. Never could quite find a good place for a 12’x2’ poster…wallpaper boarder, perhaps? Well, The Amazing Bible Timeline fit perfectly on one of those cardboard, tri-fold project display boards. Just needed to trim the edges a bit and staple it and ~voila! ~ Easy to see but also easy to store by folding (or sliding behind our piano :) ).

My first impression was admiration for the clever design, enabling the amount of information to be easily seen and comparatively viewed. Using a circular pattern of spokes, the timeline color-codes the various lineages that went on to become various civilizations. This enormous project began in 1931 and, since 1975, has been carried on by the Agard family.

This is certainly a good tool for studying history in its total context. There have been some concerns pointed out, however, that cause me to take pause in recommending The Amazing Bible Timeline to others. A few weeks after the timeline arrived, I received an email from the Agards (addressed to all of the TOS Crew), that attends to some concerns pointed out by other reviewers. Apparently, the Agard family also offers an LDS version of the timeline for Mormons, and there was also some Mormon info on the non-LDS version that we were given.

Upon closer inspection of my timeline, I did notice the inclusion of an important date for Mormon history around the year 400 AD, using the Book of Mormon references. They also note when Joseph Smith led his followers to Utah. This begs the question: What is information from the Book of Mormon doing on a BIBLE timeline in the first place? I suppose if it was titled The Amazing History Timeline, there may be some justification for it. But the two books are certainly not one and the same. (I have since read, in another reviewer's blog, that she was told the inclusion of such dates was a "nine year old error" that would be removed...).

Furthermore, the email that went out to the Crew was intended to clear up any misunderstandings about this issue, yet it only made things more perplexing for me. The Agards placed a link within their email to answer several, varied concerns that have been raised by reviewers. In addressing the apprehension that The Amazing Bible Timeline may have an “LDS slant”, the Agard family stated the following: “We don't know how it could. The original Timeline on which ours is based does not have an LDS background. We added dates from 1931 to 2000 so unless you think there's some LDS slant to WWII or the first astronauts on the moon there isn't one.” That seems reasonable.

However, prior to that statement, the Agards also proclaimed the following thought, (which is part of the same response to the question mentioned): “1975 (the year they took over production of the timeline) was a time when Christians were committed to building greater unity or cooperation among Christian faiths, very different from today’s time of Bible bashing and rejection of any Christian whose faith does not exactly match our own. The contention among Christians today is appalling to us and we don't support it. (We were asked to provide primary references that there was such a time and attitude. Fair enough.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/178836/ecumenism).” [italics mine]

I took a look at that article and found it to be a discussion on the cooperative efforts of various mainstream, historically accepted denominations of the Christian faith. Although there are various differences in methods or within the “gray” areas of belief or application, the basics of doctrine, particularly in reference to who Jesus is, are all in agreement. There is mention of the Lutheran, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Reformed and Pentecostal churches. No mention of Mormons within this article. Mormons may consider themselves Christians but Christians have never considered Mormons anything but a cult. This statement is NOT “Bible bashing,” as the Agards have asserted, it is historically and doctrinally true. Mormons are sincere, good people (I grew up in a school that was probably 1/3 Mormon and was friends with many) but they are sincerely wrong and deceived. The Book of Mormon is as false as the Koran; both books, incidentally, have been given to their founding “prophet” via angelic visitations.

I stand with the apostle Paul when he states in Galatians 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” We do no favors by patronizingly accepting our Mormon friends; rather we should speak the truth to them in love.

I realize that this has become much more than a review of The Amazing Bible Timeline and a bit more of a sermon. This is not a personal attack on the Agards in any way. However, their statements of clarification only served to raise a red flag for me as to their view of history. If they consider the concerns about the possible LDS slant as “rejection of any Christian whose faith does not exactly match our own,” it is now an issue that I feel compelled to respond to.

I cannot imagine the man hours, commitment and research that has gone into The Amazing Bible Timeline and I realize there are many varied sources used, and dates are double checked, triple checked and more. It is a huge body of work and I plan on keeping the copy given to me for review. With the internet at my finger tips it would not be hard to check anything I have a question about. I feel it is a great visual aid for putting history in context. However, I could not recommend this tool to you without disclosing what has been revealed about the viewpoints of those that have entrusted themselves to the project.

To read the full explanation of the various concerns, click this link:

To take a look at The Amazing Bible Timeline and to possibly purchase one for $29.97, visit their website at
http://bibletimeline.net .

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.