We Shall Never Forget?


“…let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them…”

Deut 20:3 (KJV)

On 9/11/2001 I was working as the Senior Operations Manager for a 1.2 million square foot Super-Regional Shopping Mall.  My responsibilities included managing a budget of around $8 million; other responsibilities included the oversight of Project Management, Mall Security, Construction, Maintenance and Repairs, Housekeeping, etc.  One of the things that were underway was a soft playground for children visiting the mall, based upon a City of Lewisville theme.  I was in a high profile position, very visible, and basically had arrived at the top of my field.

Like millions of other Americans, I got dressed that day and started driving to work.  “Just another day at the office,” I thought.  Soon, I was reminded of the ever present evil in our world.

Little did I know that morning that my priorities would change so quickly and drastically!  All of a sudden that day my mind shifted from the entertainment and comfort of our visitors to the security and safety of our guests.  Instead of deciding how to use the city water tower in the theme for a playground I was researching concrete barriers to prevent car bomb attacks.  My thoughts had shifted to issues such as effective and safe evacuation of the mall during the Christmas season when we were at our highest capacity?  Where were we to have people go?  If there were other types of emergencies such as tornado’s and life safety strategies in such an event.  My life changed that day, and in more ways than one.

Some people died instantly that morning, with no warning or time to reflect or prepare.  They may had been sitting safely at their desks performing their daily routines.  They may have been putting the cream and sugar in their coffee.  Then suddenly everything around them burst into flames; suddenly their stories ended.  Others escaped the flames and horror, passing brave souls as they entered the building trying to help others, never again to leave.  Others were not so fortunate.

I watched the news in horror as people died.  I can still hear the thuds; sounds of people impacting the ground (having jumped to escape the flames in the buildings); the very moment of their death.  Each horrible, haunting sound heard on the news  was another extinguished life; each a son, daughter, grandchild, spouse, friend.  Each had left their loved ones that morning for just another day at the office.  Even today, I greatly dislike flying, and even more so am very uncomfortable when my loved ones fly.  This is one of those common illogical human responses in a post-9/11 world.  Yes I trust in God, but I also have learned in my 38 years as a Christian that bad things happen to good people every day.  In these times, we can take our encouragement from Scripture:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

Psalms 56:3-4 (RSV)

Human elements may bring terror, but remember they are not the real enemy:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Eph 6:12 (KJV)

I recall wondering how many of them were like me at that time; focused upon work, careers and climbing the corporate ladder, and the stresses and the pressures of everyday life.  How many of the people who died on 9/11 were self-centered and cared little for others? How many were known for  doing whatever it took to ‘succeed’ in life.  Yes, we are to honor God in our jobs, and the Christian is to be the best employee any company can hope to have:

“…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Cor 10:31 (RSV)

However, we must remember that lost moments are never regained.  Were people thinking at the moment they jumped to their deaths how they wish they had spent more time at work or advanced their careers with a little more vitality?  They were most likely thinking of their wives, children, grandchildren, parents, and the memories of a lifetime.  They may have been recalling regrets, like missed birthdays and family events while they furthered their careers.  I wonder often how many of them in the instant before they knew they were about to die thought:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Psalms 23:4 (RSV)

I was a career man on the day America was attacked by a cowardly and evil enemy.  I was in the best job of my adult life, and the losses we all experienced that day changed my life forever.  In some ways it has turned out worse, in other ways I am a much better man.  One of the positive changes was I vowed to never again take my wife (or family) for granted.  I have morbidly thought about what my thoughts would have been that day, in those moments before I had died; she would have been the thing I would have wished I could have held in my arms one more second.  That day my thoughts suddenly refocused on her and my family.  As Curly counseled in ‘City Slickers,’ what is your one thing?  That is what you have to figure out.  I doubt it would have been your career…

As I have reevaluated my life over the past 10 years, I have realized how I cherish those moments when my wife and I create the memories that will sustain us in our twilight years.   I realized that she (and of course my family) is my one thing.  I suggest you, on this anniversary of 9/11, think carefully; if you were about to leap off a skyscraper to escape the flames, aside from God, what would be your one thing?  Never forget the horror and sacrifices of that day, never.  Also, once you figure out what it is, remember your one thing; grasp it, hold on to it, embrace it.  Never forget that while the master minds of 9/11 may be dead, the evil that inspired them is ever present in our world.

Allow events like 9/11/2001 to change your life.  Allow God to use them to sharpen your tool and make you a better follower of Christ, a better husband, a better wife, a better father or mother, a better employee .  And remember the promises of Scripture:

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39 (NASB77)

Aside from your personal relationship with God, nothing else matters.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…Heb 9:27 (KJV)


Unfinished Business – The Rebirth of the ALPO Lunar Dome Survey (Published article)


Marvin W. Huddleston, F.R.A.S.

A.L.P.O. Lunar Recorder: Lunar Dome Survey

Link Removed





The A.L.P.O. board of directors approved the revival of the Lunar Dome Survey during their annual board meeting in the summer of 2003.  The initial LDS program was conceived by Harry Jamieson in the early 1960’s and headed by him when the B.A.A. was invited to join the program, which they did and the joint effort between the A.L.P.O. and B.A.A. lunar sections lasted for around 14 years, ending officially around 1976 due to a decline in interest.  The program was again revived in 1987 under the direction of Jim Phillips and lasted until around the mid-1990’s.  All told, this program has been one of the longest running programs in the history of the Lunar Section of A.L.P.O.

The revived program will concentrate on cleaning up the existing catalog, classification and confirmation of the objects contained therein, and analysis of the database created in the process.  It is hoped that much as in the past the newly revived Lunar Dome Survey will be an international effort.




Lunar domes are gentle swellings on the lunar surface that resemble terrestrial shield volcanoes (similar shield volcanoes are also found on Mars). Domes are not difficult objects to observe despite the fact that they are practically invisible at solar altitudes exceeding 8-10 degrees. Under higher illumination, they tend to blend in to the surrounding lunar terrain.  Thus, the window of opportunity for their observation is quite narrow.  However, most lunar domes are well within the reach of practically any amateur telescope and valuable contributions may be made by just about anyone willing to learn some simple techniques.

There have been a number of theories as to the morphology of lunar domes.  These include the possibility that they are surface expressions of laccolithic intrusions.  Another possibility, as already mentioned above, is that they are small lava shields (i.e. lava domes).  If this is the case, they are the result of repeated extrusions of low viscosity flows.[1]  The small scale shield hypothesis seems the most tenable of the current theories, and if this proves to be the case they may be lunar examples of Hawaiian style lava domes.  Their terrestrial equivalent differs from their lunar counterpart in that they have much steeper slope angles than the normal lunar dome and probably have a quite different genesis.

Earth based volcanic domes of the cinder cone variety form via explosive eruptions which pile up lava around a central vent.  Such explosive eruptions on the moon would, due to gravity differences (lunar volcanism occurred in 1/6th the gravity as that of the earth), would have thrown such material much further, leaving little material which would form the dome around a central vent.  Terrestrial domes also form from much thicker lava, whereas lunar domes likely form from Basaltic lavas which are more liquid in nature.  Furthermore, lunar dome genesis is more likely a function of much cooler lava than those found on earth.  Large scale shields such as Olympus Mons and Launa Loa do not occur on the moon.[2]

Photograph by T.P. Miller in June 1979

Fig. _A___. Volcanic dome atop Novarupta vent, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The dome was erupted from the same vent that expelled about 15 km3 of magma in an enormous explosive eruption in 1912.  Note the much steeper slope angle as compared to Lunar Domes.[3]

John Westfall gave us the following definition of Lunar Domes which the newly revived program will continue to adopt as our working model:

Dome: A discrete regular swelling whose major axis: minor axis, when corrected for foreshortening, does not exceed 2:1, and whose maximum slope, not including secondary features, does not exceed 5 degrees.  Under high illumination, domes are indistinguishable from their surroundings.  Domes may exhibit secondary features, such as pits, clefts, ridges, and hills as long as any single such feature does not occupy more than a quarter of the area of the dome.

Dome Complex:  Any object similar to a dome which has two or more contiguous swellings or an irregularly vertical profile.[4]


The study of Lunar Domes can be traced back to the early twentieth century.  One of the earliest contributions to this line of scientific research was the observations of the Milichius/Tobias Mayer region by S.R.B. Cook in 1935.  At this same time, a drawing of the Hortensius domes by Schlumberger was published in The Moon, by W. Goodacre.

The formal study of Lunar Domes dates to around 1963, when the Lunar Sections of the Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers (A.L.P.O.) and the British Astronomical Association (B.A.A.) agreed to undertake a joint effort in Selenology with the launching of the joint ALPO/BAA Lunar Dome Project.  The A.L.P.O. Lunar Dome Project was the product of the dedicated work and leadership of Mr. Harry D. Jamieson beginning around 1960.

An initial catalog was published listing 113 objects.  A revised catalog was published in 1992 by the A.L.P.O. Lunar Section which listed 713 objects.  In addition to these catalogs, this writer published a revised catalog which listed a total of 607 confirmed and unconfirmed lunar domes on the internet (the first such listing widely available via the net).[5]  The best current official catalog appears to be the one available as a part of the Lunar Observers Toolkit mentioned elsewhere in this paper.  It will be this work which will constitute the “official” catalog for ALPO purposes.  It is comprised of the labors of many people, and is considered by the section as the standard reference for research.  Another good work (currently unpublished) has been produced by Bob Garfinkle, F.R.A.S., which lists 702 objects.  Mr. Garfinkle has attempted to fix errors and omissions as well as duplications in the 1992 and web based catalogs.  Of special value to dome researchers and observers is the extensive remarks column offered in this work.

Lunar Dome research is one avenue available for the Amateur Astronomer who wishes to make truly valuable contributions to the science of Selenology (Lunar Astronomy).  The A.L.P.O. has been involved in the scientific study of these elusive objects for over four decades now, beginning with the inception of the joint ALPO/BAA Lunar Dome Project in the mid 1960’s.

The renewed program of Lunar Dome study is deemed as a valuable effort.  This renewed study will concentrate on cleaning up the catalog as well as in fully classifying the objects in the catalog using the Westfall Classification System.  The revived program will also stress obtaining accurate measurements of the slope angles and diameters of the domes in the catalog.  Another primary goal of the revised program will be to undertake the establishment of a digital catalog of Lunar Dome images.

Much as in the programs original inception in the early 60’s, it is desired that the present effort be an international one.  Members of the A.L.P.O., the B.A.A., Geological Lunar Researches Group (G.L.R.), American Lunar Society (A.L.S.), as well as all other students of Selenology are invited to partner with us in the effort to complete the work began four decades ago.

The Situation Today

            In February of 1961, Joseph Asbrook wrote concerning Lunar Domes: “There is a serious lack of quantitative information about the properties of lunar domes—diameters slope angles, and heights. Such data are helpful in defining what a dome is and essential for subclassification [sic] and meaningful interpretation.”[6]  This writer wishes that the situation after forty-two subsequent years of research and study of Lunar Domes has now been resolved and that we have an accurate and fully classified catalog of the domes under study.  However, to do so would be an exaggeration of the greatest albedo!

The original catalog of Lunar Domes published as a joint effort between the A.L.P.O. and the B.A.A. Lunar Sections included 113 objects.  To this initial catalog, the studies over the past four decades have added approximately 589 objects.  So in respect to the numbers of known and suspected objects, much progress has been made.  In respect to routine science, however, it appears that little progress has been made, because today little more is known about the approximately 702 objects in the current catalog than was known about the original 113 objects as published in 1965.[7]

This is a curious situation.  During the four decade old formal study of Lunar Domes much was done toward the discovery and confirmation of new objects, but little has been done during this same time period to determine the properties and characteristics of the domes currently known.  Many of us seem to have been committed to the glory and satisfaction of discovery [the author must stress that in pointing fingers in this he points three at himself for every one pointed at other readers], but few of us seem to be interested in the mundane science behind the original project.

Fig. _B___.  Drawing of the Cassini region showing suspected dome by Raffaello Lena, September 28, 2002 at 4:08 UT; 100mm refractor at f/15, 250X. Seeing good.  For more information please visit: http://utenti.lycos.it/gibbidomine/cassinidome.htm

The study of Lunar Domes has been viewed by many of us as one of the foremost contributions amateur astronomers can make to the science of astronomy.  This program remains as one of the areas in Amateur Astronomy in general and Selenology in particular wherein the amateur astronomer may make a truly valuable and lasting contribution to science.  Our generation of Selenologists has the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in the work we do in our current and future studies of Lunar Domes.  In the words of one of the Ghostbusters: “We have the tools, and we have the talent!

Earlier generations of dedicated Selenologists, particularly in the amateur ranks, were reserved to observation of the moon and its many features with quite modest astronomical equipment.  This writer began his LDS studies with a 2.4 inch refractor, when the mean aperture for amateur astronomers was in the neighborhood of 8 inches. We now live in an age when the mean aperture of the amateur astronomer’s equipment is growing (it is now likely to be a mean of 14 inches aperture) almost daily to staggering statistics (one word of caution: this writer has discovered a suspected correlation in the aperture gain of the telescope primary mirror with the aperture gain in his waist over the past 30 years; more scientific study may be necessary before this correlation may be considered a scientific fact).  It is common today for an amateur astronomer to attend an event such as the Texas Star Party in the Texas Davis Mountains and have the opportunity to observe with instruments in the 36+ inch range.  This writer observes these days with a modest aperture Dobsonian of 18 inches, complete with electronic Goto and tracking ability!


Fig._C__.  The author, Marvin W. Huddleston, F.R.A.S., the ALPO Lunar Recorder for the Lunar Dome Survey, with his 18” Starmaster Newtonian Telescope at the Texas Star Party held at the Prude Ranch near McDonald Observatory in May of 2002.  This telescope features a superb f/4.3 Zambuto primary mirror and the Skytracker electronic “Goto” and tracking package developed by Rick Singmaster of Starmaster Telescopes.


In addition, the lunar observer of yesteryear had to laboriously plot domes on a chart for observation and study when today this effort is a needless exercise thanks to the Lunar Observers Toolkit written by Mr. Harry D. Jamieson.[8]  This software is simply phenomenal in its capabilities, listing domes for observation on any given date and plotting them on a moon graphic showing the nights moon phase as well.  Other useful features offered in the Toolkit are such abilities as the computation of accurate heights and depths.  Overall, this software is deemed indispensable and unequaled in value to any student of Selenology.


Fig._D_Lunar Map Pro chart of the Copernicus region also showing the crater Hortensius and Tobias Mayer, both regions well known to Lunar Dome Observers.  Compare this image with the Fig._F__ taken by Ed Crandall.

Additional software that has become available to the Lunar Observer interested in Lunar Domes in particular and Selenology in general include the commercial product Lunar Map Pro produced by RITI.[9]  An example of this software’s charting capability may bee seen in Fig._D_ showing the Copernicus region which includes the craters Hortensius and Tobias Mayer, both familiar sights to Lunar Dome observers.  One of the interesting tools in the Lunar Map Pro software is the Surveyor tool.  This tool allows the user to mark two locations with their computers curser and with a simple click measure the distance for point A to point B.  The resulting computation is given both in Kilometers as well as in Miles; it also gives the Azimuth between the two points.  It should be noted by the reader that the accuracy of this method has not been confirmed.  However, there is a useful feature in the software allowing the user to specify specific image scaling, which it is assumed would increase accuracy.

Another nice program for plotting lunar phases is Lunar Phase Pro, produced by Gary Nugent.[10]  This writer especially likes the real time display format of this software.  This software is useful for the observer wishing to keep tabs on real-time technical data such as Libration, Colongitude, Position angles, etc.


Fig._F__.  Image of Lunar Domes near Hortensuis by Ed Crandall. Copernicus is visible on the lower right.  10″ f/7 Newt SLX HX 516 CCD camera; 10 June 2003 @ 2:24 UT (S=5/10)

Another improvement we have over previous generations has been recent advances in imaging technologies.  Today the amateur Selenologist can, with a very modest monetary investment, perform lunar imaging rivaling the professional astronomer of yesteryear with such instruments as CCD cameras, CCD video cameras, digital cameras and/or inexpensive web-cams.


Fig._G__.  The Philips To-U-Cam, one of the many inexpensive web-cams available which is allowing the amateur astronomer to secure high resolution photographs of the lunar surface (as well as planetary subjects such as Mars and Jupiter).  The addition of an inexpensive adapter by Steven Mogg[11] (center) turns this simple web-camera into an effective Astronomical Imaging instrument.  Meade’s new LPI (Lunar Planetary Imager, right) is a new and exciting product for Lunar and Planetary Imaging. The LPI is shown here attached to a LX200GPS Telescope.

Fig._H_. Image of Mare Serenitatis showing the Bessell region, site of a number of illusive objects (possibly domes) associated with “White Patches.”  Also note …. taken by the author; Starmaster 18” f/4.3 and Meade LPI imaging camera.  12/30/2003 UD 00:21:17UT, Colongitude 348.57* Composite of 20 images stacked automatically by the LPI software.

One advantage that our predecessors had over us was the availability of some of the finest lunar atlases of all times.  This writer has contacted the University of Arizona Press numerous times in hopes that the Orthographic Lunar Atlas might eventually be reprinted, but to no avail.  There were hopes at one time that a digital version might be made available, but this writer has been unable to confirm this rumor.  Likewise, the Rukl Lunar Atlas is out of print, leaving our generation with the best equipment in Selenological history but in the worse situation in decades as far as availability of accurate hardcopy lunar atlases for positional work.  However, light is visible at the end of the tunnel, as this writer has it on good authority that the latter will be available soon in a reprint edition.[12]

The renewed Lunar Dome Survey will concentrate its efforts on the mundane science of LDS research. Science depends upon accurate data.  It will be our mission to take as our foremost responsibility the existing extensive catalog of Lunar Domes and make this catalog an example of some of the finest work ever accomplished by students of Selenology.  Our emphasis will not be on the discovery of new objects, though occasional discoveries may be made in the process; rather, our emphasis will be on the classification, measurement, and analysis of the domes in the existing catalog.


Fig._I__. USGS illustration of Volcano Types. Lunar Domes are thought to be the Lunar counterparts of Shield and/or Volcanic Domes.  Though their genesis may differ, much is to be learned from studying the terrestrial counterparts.[13]

Many questions remain as to the nature of Lunar Domes, which the renewed program will attempt to answer.  For example, what is the correlation between central craters and a domes shape, size and other characteristics?  Is there a ratio to central crater size and dome diameter?  What are the statistics between circular domes with central craters and those without these craters?  Are there correlations between elliptical domes and associated secondary features?  What is the relationship between Lunar Domes and specialized secondary features, such as white patches?[14]

The renewed program will concentrate on the following observational data much as it did during the late 1980’s revival of the project.  The following is based on a paper by Harry Jamieson’s and is reproduced here for the benefit of those new to lunar dome work:[15]

  1. Position

Observers should carefully check dome positions and report any errors or inaccuracy in catalog positions.

  1. Diameter

Measure dome diameters using size comparisons to nearby craters of known diameter.  Joseph Ashbrook detailed this method thus:  The observation consists in estimating the ratio between the domes apparent diameter and the parallel diameter of the comparison crater. For example, if the crater has a diameter of 10.0 kilometers, and you estimate the domes diameter as .55 of this, the dome diameter is .55 x 10 = 5.5 kilometers.[16]  Additional methods may include the use of micrometers or reticle eyepieces.

  1. Average Slope angle and Height

The moment at which a dome is covered by ¼ black (not grey, which represents grazing illumination by sunlight) shadow should be accurately noted.  Average slope angles and heights can be computed at this time because the suns altitude over the dome at that moment may be taken as the domes average slope angle.  Given the domes average slope and diameter, the height can be found easily using the Lunar Observers Toolkit negating the complicated calculations necessary in past years.  Consult the help file in Toolkit concerning “Lunar heights and depths” for detailed instructions.






  1. Maximum Slope Angle

This value is equal to the suns altitude when the last trace of shadow is observed at the foot of the dome in the lunar morning.  Note that this determination should also be done in the lunar afternoon and that the two values thus found may be different.

  1. Dome classification (Westfall Classification).
    1. A dome is a discrete feature, not a part of something else.
    2. A domes ratio of major/minor axis (corrected for foreshortening) may not exceed 2:1.  This is designed to eliminate ridges.
    3. A dome may not exceed a maximum slope angle of 5 degrees.  This definition is designed to eliminate hills and peaks.
    4. No single secondary feature (cleft, crater, etc.) may occupy more than ¼ of the surface area of a dome (with perhaps the single exception of “White Patches” which have been noted atop some domes).  White Patches are largely poorly understood and have been ignored for the most part.

The renewed effort will be quite interested in the study of the various types of secondary features.  Data are needed concerning the characteristics and correlations of such features.

The Westfall Classification system is designed to describe the physical characteristics of a dome using a combination of a letters and numbers.  Readers should note the addition of a Type 10 secondary feature listed under the heading “Surface Feature type.”  The following is a brief outline of the classification system:[17]

Broad Category:

D: Dome

DC: Dome complex (several domes in physical contact (i.e the Rumker complex).


U: Uplands

W. Maria

UW: Uncertain if Uplands or Maria

Plan: Domes major axis is:

1.  Less than 5 kilometers

2. 5-20 kilometers

3.  20-35 kilometers

4.   35 kilometers

Written notes submitted to the Recorder should include size estimations with as much accuracy as possible.


a)      Circular (major/minor axis 1.00-1.25)

b)      Elliptical (major/minor axis 1.26-2.00).

c)      Polygonal

d)     Irregular

e)      Too ill-defined to classify

Profile (average slope):

5.  Gentle (under 2 degrees)

6.  Moderate (2-5 degrees)

Profile-Cross section:

f. hemispherical

g. flat summit (platykurtic)

h. sharp summit (leptokurtic)

i. Multiple summit (more than one summit; but of single type).

f’. Hemispherical (Asymmetric)

g’. Flat summit (Asymmetric)

h’. Sharp summit (Asymmetric)

i’. Complex summit (more than one summit and of different type).

Surface Detail-type:

7. Depression (pit, craterlet, or saucer)

8. Elevation (hill, ridge, or pit)

9. Cleft or Valley

10. White Patch (area of higher albedo than surrounding lunar surface usually located atop the domes location).

0. No observable detail.

Surface Detail Position:

j. central

k. Off-central

m. margin

n. Transversal (cross dome)

p. more than one such feature.

An example of the classification system in actual use might be recorded as DW/2b/6f//7j/9m/8p which translated means: (DW) Dome within Maria, (2b) 5-20 kilometers and elliptical, (6f) moderate slope and hemispherical, (7j) depression central on the dome, (9m) cleft or valley on the margin of the dome, (8p) Elevation – more than one such feature.

It is hoped that many will take on the challenge of helping us finalize the catalog and answer this call to arms!  What the reader must understand is that until the catalog is completed and an accurate database established analysis of the objects cannot produce usable date.  Taking accurate data such as the Westfall Classifications and analyzing these will allow researchers to analyze the data set and produce an accurate definition based on the data. We need observers dedicated to study of these elusive Lunar Domes.


Selected Bibliography


Ashbrook, Joseph. Dimensions of The Lunar Dome Kies 1 in J.A.L.P.O. 15, NO. 1-2. (Edinburg, Texas: Pan American College, 1961).

Hudleston, Marvin W. Lunar Domes and White Patches: A Correlation Report in Proceedings of the joint WAA-ALPO 1972 Convention.

Jamieson, Harry D. and Rae, W.L.  The Joint ALPO-BAA Lunar Dome Project in Strolling Astronomer 18, no. 9-10 (University Park, N.M.: The Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1965).

Jamieson, Harry D. Observing Lunar Domes in JALPO 33, no. 1-3 (Heber Springs, Ark.: The Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1989).

Rukl, Ing Antonin.  Personal correspondence dated July 1, 2003.

Schiltz, Peter H.  Moon Morphology. (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1972).

Taylor, Stuart Ross.  Domes and Cones in Planetary Science: A Lunar Perspective. (Houston, Texas: Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1982).

Westfall, John E.  A Generic Classification of Lunar Domes in Strolling Astromomer 18, no. 1-2. (University Park, N.M.: Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1964).




[1] Peter H. Schultz, Moon Morphology. (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1972), 286.

[2] Stuart Ross Taylor, Domes and Cones in Planetary Science: A Lunar Perspective. (Houston, Texas: Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1982), 274.

[4] John E. Westfall, A Generic Classification of Lunar Domes in Strolling Astromomer 18, no. 1-2. (University Park, N.M.: Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1964), 15-20.

[5] This listing can be found on the authors web page which is devoted to Lunar Domes at http://www.lunar-dome.com

[6] Joseph Ashbrook, Dimensions of The Lunar Dome Kies I in J.A.L.P.O. 15, NO. 1-2. (Edinburg, Texas: Pan American College, 1961), 1-3.

[7] Harry D. Jamieson and W.L. Rae, The Joint ALPO-BAA Lunar Dome Project in Strolling Astronomer 18, no. 9-10 (University Park, N.M.: The Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1965), 179-182.

[8] Mr. Jamieson may be contacted concerning his Lunar Observers Toolkit at h.jamieson@bresnan.net  His toolkit will be an essential accessory for participants in the newly revived Lunar Dome Survey and is available at very modest cost.  This software runs independent of installation CD.  One of the numerous great features in the Toolkit is its link feature to the Consolidated Lunar Atlas.  The lunar phase display screen also plots all domes in the catalog on a graphic display of the current lunar phase, though the phase is a stagnant display and not a continuous phase updating screen.

[10] http://www.nightskyobserver.com  Loads into the user’s computer running independently from the installation CD, a huge advantage.

[12] Ing Antonin Rukl, personal correspondence dated July 1, 2003.  Mr. Rukl reported that his atlas will be reprinted by Sky Publishing Corporation in the near future.

[13] http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Glossary/VolcanoTypes/volcano_types.html

[14] Marvin W. Huddleston, Lunar Domes and White Patches: A Correlation Report in Proceedings of the joint WAA-ALPO 1972 Convention, pgs. 120-121.

[15] Harry D. Jamieson, Observing Lunar Domes in JALPO 33, no. 1-3 (Heber Springs, Ark.: The Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, 1989), 23-24.

[16] Ashbrook, 1.

[17] Jamieson, 24.

Let the World Sleep…a Poem by Marvin W. Huddleston


While most the world sleeps,

Let others awake weep…

Because this night you and I alone

 Own those stars which above us are shown.

Twinkling as though only to us they wink,

Only toward you and I they blink.

We lie together under the moonless skies,

The stars shining brilliantly as each stroll by.

Of all the beauty that the skies unfold,

None of them compare with you, my doe.

Up there in Cygnus, hides the Veil,

Reminding me of the one you once wore,

placing me forever under your spell.

And over in Lyra, the ring doth shine,

Reminding me of the one you wear, which made you all mine.

There is one thing on which you can always count,

And that is my eternal love, no doubt.

You alone will I adore,

as long as the stars are there to explore.

And if they should ever fail to shine,

Still will I only and forever be thine.

Yes, I love those celestial skies above,

But not even they compare with you, my love…

Image: Hubble, Galaxy Cluster MACS J0717


Marriage and The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Part I): Something the Universe, Marriages, Campfires and Stars Have in Common – The Need for Fuel

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For lack of wood the fire goes out…

Prov 26:20 (NASB)

Do You Need to Rekindle the Flame?

When we were dating, my wife and I attended a youth retreat together and enjoyed a campfire service.  The fire raged and we all sat around the fire and shared with each other in the group things God was doing in our lives.  I remember looking at her face reflecting the flickering flames and realizing she was my destiny and the woman I was going to marry and devote my life to.  But the flames of that campfire had to be tended; had the fire been allowed to, it would have lasted only a short time.  Keeping the flames going required someone to add wood and stir the coals together igniting the new wood.

As an astronomer, I find it interesting that this principle is found in the birth and death of stars as well as the whole universe.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics basically states that “the universe is constantly losing usable energy and never gaining (http://www.allaboutscience.org/second-law-of-thermodynamics.htm).”  In other words, if you do not add fuel (energy) to the universe it will eventually lose all its heat and extinguish” just like our camp fire (this is the entropy principle).  Stars also follow this principle; they burn all their fuel and die out (yes, our sun included).

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An interesting astronomical fact is that a star’s lifespan is determined entirely by its mass. The more massive a star is, the hotter it burns, the brighter it is bluer in color), and the shorter its lives. The longest-lived stars are those with less mass, which are also the dimmest. In other words, the more massive (the bigger) a star is, the faster it dies!  Massive stars go supernova and end up as either Neutron Stars or Black Holes and stars like the sun go through phases giving birth to Planetary Nebulae and end up as White to Black Dwarfs.  So what does this have to do with marriage?  Simple, if you do not add fuel to the fire it will go out, no matter how bright or dim it may have once been.

Some marriage ceremonies include the Unity Candle, a part of the ceremony in which a couple take two individual lit candles and combine the flames of these candles into a single flame ; the the two individual candles are then extinguished, leaving the single Unity candle lit as an illustration of their commitment to each other showing that their two lives are now joined into one.

This is a beautiful way to start a marriage…I think that it illustrates an important truth:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Gen 2:24 (NASB)

The unity candle is also a good illustration of a central fact: if the candle is not tended, it will not stay lit.  I know of no instances where the unity candle remained lit longer than the ceremony, and if they did, keeping it lit without constant attention would be impossible.  The flame, eventually, would be extinguished.  If some breeze or wind didn’t come along and blow it out, the candle would burn all its fuel (the wax as it melts) and the flame would go out.  This is marriage…a marriage needs constant tending and fuel or it will be soon extinguished.

Image Marcus74id  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The majority of marriages that occur today will end within 8 years.  The flame goes out and the marriage ends.  They all started with brilliant prospects, but along the way, they ceased to be nurtured and the flame is now gone.  No marriage, campfire, or star can survive after the fuel is gone.  Like stars, some marriages simply, quietly fade away, but others end in brilliant supernova explosions, and when this happens, pity the poor fool who is nearby watching its death.  And any planets in orbit around these stars are destroyed in the process.

What about your marriage?  Is there sufficient fuel to keep the fires burning, or have you allowed the fire to dwindle and only cooling coals remain?  In Part II of this article, we will look at ways to tend your marriage in order to keep the fires burning!


Are You Willing to Get Out of the Boat?

Friday, August 01, 2008

And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him…

Matt 14:29-31 (NASB)

Have you ever had a similar experience? Peter stepped out in faith leaving behind the world’s wisdom. By all rights, according to the worldly wisdom of science, philosophy, and psychology, Peter was mad. He left the security of the boat and stepped out into the depths of the sea. Scientifically certain death could be expected. But Peter had his eyes on Jesus, so stepping into the waves and amidst the raging storm seemed logical to him at that time.

All went well for Peter at first. As he gazed upon His savior, he imitated Jesus to the point of even walking on the water. However, as soon as his gaze left his personal savior (who incidentally was the Creator God of the Universe), and began to focus on the raging storm and waves, Peter began to sink.

How well I can relate to Peter in this experience. At the high point of my secular career, when all was well financially, I too heard the calling of the master to step out of my boat and into the uncertainty of the storm and ocean waves. My wife and I had friends who expressed that we were insane. Our step in faith included a complete selling out to Jesus; cashing in retirements, pensions, stocks, every ounce of security to follow the Lord into that storm so that I could prepare for service to the master through attending seminary.

All went well for a time. But unlike Peter, my gaze left the savior for quite some time, not just mere moments. Over a period of several years I have come to the realization that my gaze too has focused on the waves and not the savior. I found myself all too late calling out to the Lord in complete despair recently “Lord, save me!”

What about you? First of all, are you willing to get out of the boat? Secondly, will you wait as I did until the water is almost shutting off all sources of oxygen before calling out to the Lord for salvation from the storms of life?

Peter, unlike me, immediately realized the danger of focusing on the world and its storms and not on Jesus. He immediately called out to the Lord, and immediately Jesus “stretched out his hand and took hold of him.”
You do not have to wait until after you sink; you have the assurance of God’s Word that Jesus is there waiting merely for you to call upon him, and He will immediately respond to our cry for help.

Challenging the Study: A Look at Dispensational Eschatology



An Examination of


leading to the doctrine of


A Research Paper

Submitted to Dr. David L. Brooks

Department of Old Testament Studies


Marvin W. Huddleston

Mesquite, Texas

May, 2000

Intro to the Revised Document (6/25/2001)

The following paper was presented as a Graduate Research Thesis at Criswell College in the spring of 1999. The present work published herein should be viewed by the reader as a work in progress. Please stop by frequently and check for revisions (dates of revisions will be printed at the top of the document). I welcome any student of theology to use this work as a reference source. I do request that a comment be left in the guestbook under the comments section as to your intention to do so. Please note the title and subject of your paper in your posting there, as well as the institution to which the paper will be presented.

My current thoughts on the subject matter at hand are complex. I often think that one of the primary reasons this doctrine (Dispensationalism) is so popular is that it sells books. Lets face it, human nature leads us to desire the Dispensational model. No one in their right mind would prefer to endure the tribulation of the book of Revelation. In contrast, one of the major alternative viewpoints (Historical pre-millennialism) is not only a very un-popular position but it is seldom taught on the lay level simply because it teaches a theology that is not a pleasant thought. The question at hand is it wise to base our theology on the emotional response to a doctrine, or should we seek good theology and truth and trust in the Christ of Salvation for “the patient endurance of the saints?”


In the mid 1990′s I recall overhearing a group of research scientists discussing their field of research. There I was standing at the top of a ladder repairing a leaking pipe above one of the research stations in a lab at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Surrounding me were dozens of Medical scientists (Ph.D.’s came a dime a dozen in this building) and student research associates (Master Degreed Ph.D. candidates), all busily performing their assigned duties. One group stood just a few feet from my ladder. The material they were discussing was quite advanced for my mere college level of understanding in the Biological Sciences, but I gleaned something extraordinary from their discussion. The majority of the group wished to duplicate and therefore confirm a study one of their colleagues at another University had published in a national medical journal. However, their boss, the P.I. (Principle Investigator) disagreed with their intended methodology. I remember his words to the letter…”No, No, No! We must CHALLENGE the study!” In other words, true science required a deeper investigation. Where their intention was to take the results of the study and duplicate the methods the researchers had used that arrived at a particular conclusion, their boss demanded they attack the conclusion. The subject under scrutiny would thus have to stand on its own merits.

This study will follow that line of reasoning. My goal is not to follow the popular eschatology of our day. On the contrary, it is my hope that this paper will “challenge the study.” It seems to me that libraries can be filled with books on the subject of Christian Eschatology that followed the methodology of these medical students. One additional such work is not necessary. We shall, rather, attempt to examine some of the problems within the system known as Dispensationalism leading to the problematic conclusion that animal sacrifices will be re-instated in the age to come.


A definition seems in order for the word Eschatology. Berkhof notes “The name eschatology is based on those passages of scripture that speak of ‘the last days (eschatai hemerai), Is. 2:2; Mic. 4:1; ‘the last time’ (eschatos ton chronon), I Pet. 1:20, and ‘the last hour,’ (eschate hora), I John 2:18. It is true that these expressions sometimes refer to the whole New Testament dispensation, but even so they embody an eschatological idea. Old Testament prophecy distinguishes only two periods, namely, ‘this age’ (olam hazzeh, Gr. Aion houtos), and ‘the coming age’ (ollam habba, Gr. Aion mellon). Since the prophets represent the coming of the Messiah and the end of the world as coinciding, the ‘last days’ are the days immediately preceding both the coming of the Messiah and the end of the world.”(1). Thus, in this study, references to eschatology may be taken as referring to the doctrine of last things.

Millennial Sacrifices?

I find the concept that the Old Testament sacrificial system will be re-instated in the millennial kingdom to be one of the intriguing points of the theological system known as Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism has been defined by Chafer: “The dispensationalist believes that throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives involved, which is Judaism; while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people and heavenly objectives involved, which is Christianity.”(2).

The idea, that the animal sacrificial system of ancient Judaism is to be re-instituted in the millennial kingdom, arises out of the “literal” hermeneutic employed by the dispensationalists. And in this area of their theology the Dispensationalist is quite adamant. Schmitt makes the statement, “Ezekiel himself believed it was a reality [the Millennial Temple] and the future home of Messiah. Then, it becomes not heresy to believe that a Temple and sacrifices will exist; rather, it is almost a heresy to not believe this, especially because it is part of Gods infallible word. The burden on us is to determine how it fits—not its reality.”(3).

The Scientific and Christian Communities, Something in Common

All too often in matters of Christian theology we follow a line of reasoning, beginning our thesis with something we take as fact rather than attempting to challenge the norm. I am not suggesting questioning the basic pillars on which Christianity stands, no more than the scientist can question the basic established laws of physics. In Christianity, as in Science, there are immutable facts among which there must be agreement. But in Christianity, as in science, a principle has developed in practice where the facts become blurred by the theories.

In the world of science, an example of this principle can be found in the subject of Darwinian evolution. Few scientists today question this theory. Owing to the weakness of the scientific evidence supporting this theory, I find this extraordinary. In actual practice, if a scientist hopes to find themselves among the ranks of researchers at the best academic and research centers within their field of specialization, publishing a paper that challenges the Darwinian Theory would be in effect a form of career suicide. As Darwin’s theory is just that, a theory on the origins of life, this is remarkable. We theologians can point the accusatory finger and say “Look how inconsistent the scientific community is. Darwinian Evolution is not one of the basic irrefutable tenants of scientific dogma, such as the law of gravity.” Therefore, “It seems silly and unscientific to prevent an eminent and otherwise highly qualified scientist from studying, performing research or teaching at such an institution just because his viewpoint on one of the lesser issues in science does not agree with many of his colleagues.”

Unfortunately, this very scenario occurs in Christianity. In the area of Christian Eschatology, many schools, churches and para-church organizations place a prerequisite on degree candidates, faculty and staff members requiring them to hold to the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine as a condition of employment or acceptance to a particular program.


The present writer must make clear at the outset of this work that he is a conservative, bible believing Christian. I believe there are five principle pillars on which the Church of Jesus Christ stands. It might be beneficial here to list these:

The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ
The absolute Deity of Jesus Christ
The Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ
The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ and his Second Coming
I furthermore believe in the absolute authority of the biblical text, and in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures contained in the cannon. Many would call me a fundamentalist.

In the area of Eschatology, I must admit at this point in my theological progress the jury is still out concerning my view of many of the questions raised concerning Dispensationalism. I feel that these are questions that are not to be taken lightly, either. That said, I hold that in Eschatology there is much room for discussion among believers as to the mechanics of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. According to Lightner, ” …theologians and many Christian leaders hold tenaciously to particular views of future happenings. Denominations, mission agencies, schools, para-church ministries and other Christian organizations, as well as individuals, are divided over Gods plan for the future.”(4) I feel the questions raised under the umbrella of Eschatology are very important to our generation (as well as to all generations) of believers.

The essential doctrine in Eschatology is not the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints. Neither is it the millennial temple and consequent system of animal sacrifice (despite the very stern words quoted previously in this paper by Smitt). Rather, as noted by Terry, there seems to be agreement on four points:

The Lord will come from heaven with signal accompaniments.
The dead in Christ shall rise first.
The living saints shall be caught up to meet the Lord.
Those thus glorified shall ever be with the Lord.
He goes on to say, ” But while all agree these four doctrines are clear and explicit beyond controversy, there has been wide difference of opinion as to the time and order of these sublime events.”(5).

My Experience

Backing up a bit, I became a believer in 1973 under a “fire and brimstone” preacher. I don’t recall a single sermon in my early Christian experience that did not contain a message concerning the Dispensational, pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I accepted this position on eschatology as a basic, and absolute, tenant of the Christian Faith. This preaching also stressed a “literal” interpretation of the Bible. Anything less was taught to be tantamount to apostasy. And, of course, I bought into this theological system hook, line, and sinker. I bought and read the popular books, passed out the tracts warning people they better be ready or else be “left behind.” I witnessed to people frequently stressing how horrible the tribulation period was going to be and that soon it would be too late to avoid the terror of those days.

I studied, read, and meditated on this subject for years, and a curious thing happened. As I matured in my Christian Faith, I found myself in a theological dilemma. One of the catalysts of this dilemma was an intense emotional tie I had developed to the doctrine that the church would not endure the tribulation. I had been taught that God would not put “us,” his precious church, through the horrors of the forthcoming period of tribulation foretold in the Bible. I furthermore worried that I was in danger of becoming an apostate and losing my faith!

Why did I question my faith? Was I having doubts about the existence of my God and/or the Lord Jesus Christ? Did I doubt the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection? No. The problem was the more I studied the dispensational system from the viewpoint of the popular writers of that time, the more I found problems and contradictions within that system as taught and preached by it’s adherents.

I once sought counseling with a Youth Minister concerning my doubts as to the second coming occurring prior to the tribulation, and was told I was in just such a danger of apostasy, and possibly nearing committing the unpardonable sin! This minister came to this conclusion because I begin to question whether or not the dispensational doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture and all it entails was actually what the Bible taught! The most remarkable thing was that the Pastor concurred with this conclusion! My experience in counseling with the youth pastor seems typical in many ways of the popular writers and teachers following the dispensational school, especially at the non-academic levels.

It was during this period in my theological development that I noticed the difficulties in understanding let alone explaining to others those complicated charts commonly sold in the Christian bookstores. The point I wish to make here is that as a system of theology, pre-tribulation rapture (Dispensationalism) is such a complicated system that it almost is impossible to keep the facts straight and thus avoid confusion and contradictions.

This paper is not intended to chronicle every experience I have had with this issue, but a second example seems typical from the lay perspective. During a class some years ago, the Dispensational, Pre-Tribulation rapture doctrine was being taught with the typical emotionalism that seems to characterize such discussions. The jest of the conversation among class members at the slightest mention of other viewpoints amounted to the statement, “Don’t they (those that dared to challenge the study) read the same bible? Don’t they interpret the bible literally (and thus correctly)?” Thus, it appears that at least in the mind of the layman and average church staff member, this issue seems to be viewed as a basic tenant of the Christian Faith, and failure to adhere to it is in effect apostasy. The norm at the local church level seems to be to teach the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine as the only viable position for the bible believing Christian.

This position has been fueled in part by some Dispensational scholars, such as Charles Feinberg (quoted in a doctoral dissertation by William Bell), addressing the idea that the church will not be subjected the wrath of God during the tribulation period. Feinbergs statement is of interest here: “To intimate anything less is blasphemy of the worst sort.”(6).

On the other hand, liberal theologians and bible students have no problem here. They do not take the scripture seriously in the first place. This abandoning of the Bible greatly simplifies their Eschatology. C.H. Dodd, a liberal scholar, coined the term “realized eschatology,” in describing this subject from the liberal point of view. He says, “The eschaton has moved from the future to the present, from the sphere of expectation into that of realized experience.”(7). In other words, what’s the big deal anyway? It hasn’t happened, the bible has no credibility, so why worry?

Dispensational Hermeneutics

Examining the hermeneutics behind the doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture in general and millennial animal sacrifice in particular is essential to our present study.

Much is made in Dispensationalism of the “literal” method of interpretation. Randall Price stresses the importance of the literal interpretation of Dispensationalism by using the terminology “consistently literal hermeneutic.”(8). Price states, “The consistently literal hermeneutic (method of interpretation) seeks to understand the Old Testament prophecies in their original setting, reading them as historical realities that will be fulfilled in the future for those to whom they were intended in the context.”(9).

Bell addressed this “consistently literal hermeneutic” in his work on the subject of Dispensationalism. He states, “Dispensationalists are also reluctant to accept a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies which speak of an apparent reinstitution of Israel’s ancient enemies in the millennium, e.g. Philistria, Edom, Moab, Assyria, etc. Feinberg, for example, sees Egypt and Assyria in Isaiah 11 as representative of Israel’s enemies—not the specific nations named.(10). This interpretation is doubtless correct, but it is not literal. One wonders why if ‘Israel means Israel,’(11). Assyria does not mean Assyria and Egypt mean Egypt. The answer, obviously, is that plain common sense militates against any interpretation that sees a necessary revival of ancient peoples who passed off the scene of history thousands of years ago. No Christian would deny that God could once again bring together an Assyrian empire or a Philistine nation if He chose to do so, but few expositors, Dispensationalists included, look for such an occurrence. Thereby, they avoid what Davidson has called ‘the insanity of literalism.’” Bell goes on to say, “It can be seen, then, that in practice Dispensationalists are not the consistent literalists that they claim to be in hermeneutical debates.”(12)

Dr. Bell makes a very good point, and based on the fact he brought this argument to the discussion thirty-two years prior to Prices book, it appears to have been a been a point that was not taken too seriously in the camp of Dispensationalism. Stated another way, it appears to this writer that the Dispensationalist is comfortable with literal interpretation when literalism supports their system of theology. On the other hand, where literalism (and history) do not uphold their system, they deviate from their strict literalism in order to make the facts fit their position.

In contrast to the “consistently literal hermeneutic” it should be stated that Price defines the “spiritually symbolic hermeneutic” thusly: “The spiritually symbolic hermeneutic reads the Old Testament prophecies in light of New Testament fulfillment in Christ.” I believe this is a very good definition upon which I could not hope to arrive at any improvement.

Is there a dichotomy between Israel and the Church?

I believe the single most important defining factor differentiating between Dispensational theology and other eschatological systems lies in the strict distinction Dispensationalism holds between Israel and the Church. According to the Dispensationalist, therefore, where scripture refers to Israel it literally means the nation Israel (i.e., circumcised Jews). And where it refers to the term Church it is referring strictly to the New Testament Church, as instituted by Christ. Never, according to this hermeneutic, are the two terms combined. This seems to be the point of contention Bell has with the claims of the “consistently literal hermeneutic” followed by those adhering to the school of Dispensational eschatology. In light of my understanding of progressive revelation and the theology of the Old and New Testaments, I feel I must agree.

Along this line of thought, there also seems to be a problem in the dispensational camp in discussions dealing with the New Covenant as taught in the New Testament. Bell notes, “Pentecost, Ryrie, and other dispensational writers agree with Walvoord that the new covenant with Israel is to be fulfilled in the millennium. Dispensationalists, of course, in an attempt to adhere to a literal interpretation and to preserve the supposed dichotomy between Israel and the church, cannot conceive of a covenant which promised to “Israel and Judah” as being fulfilled in any sense to the church. Therefore, since they feel that no such covenant has been instituted historically with Israel as a nation, the fulfillment must be future. Ryrie even states that “If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned.”(14).

I believe the Dispensationalists, due to the strict dichotomy they hold between the Church and Israel, miss an important point. I feel the point is not that the Church replaces Israel, but rather the mystery is that a union has developed between the Church and Israel. It is not so much a question of a replacement, but rather a union. Gentiles have been added to the people of God. Dillard and Longman address this thusly, “In the first place, there are few, but highly significant quotations from Hosea in the New Testament. Paul (Rom. 9:25) and Peter (1 Peter 2:10) both cite the negative to positive use of the prophet’s children’s names to support their contention that the Gentiles are now a part of the people of God. (Italics mine)”(15).


The principle of hermeneutics known as literalism has been defined thus by Ryrie: “Dispensationalists claim that their principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation. This means interpretation which gives to every word the same meaning it would have in normal usage, whether employed in writing, speaking or thinking. This is sometimes called the principle of grammatical-historical interpretation since the meaning of each word is determined by grammatical and historical considerations.”(16).

This strict literal approach to scripture in no way rules out linguistic principles, such as the use of figures of speech. Walvoord states, “Symbols, figures of speech and types are all interpreted plainly in this method and they are in no way contrary to literal interpretation.”(17).

To sum this up, therefore, the dispensationalist should adhere to a literal interpretation of scripture consistently while allowing for linguistic elements such as figures of speech. And it is precisely this method which arrives at the supposition that in the millennial kingdom the temple worship system along with it’s specialized priesthood and animal sacrifices will be re-instituted. This fact has been stated by Pentecost, “…It can thus be seen that the form of worship in the millennium will bear a strong similarity to the old Aaronic order.”(18).

Scholars have differed greatly in their interpretation of the passages that deal with the prophecy of the millennial temple. This may be interpreted as pertaining to a temple that was to have replaced Solomon’s Temple. This, it must be noted, has not occurred. Other scholars hold that this temple is symbolic of the church. Walvoord notes that the language of the text leaves this interpretation in question, due to the specific details revealed concerning this temple. He states, “Inasmuch as the specifications are very specific and imply a literal temple and inasmuch as having a temple in the Millennium would coincide with a period of joy and peace and worship of the Lord, it would seem best to consider this temple a literal temple though problems of interpretation remain.” (19).

Taking this literal approach a step further, it appears that if this system of worship is to be re-instituted in the millennial kingdom, one wonders why the purposes for the animal sacrifices in this temple system would not also demand the same principles of literal interpretation? The modern school of thought among dispensational teachers is that the animal sacrifices in the Millennial Temple will be a memorial, somewhat akin to the Lord’s Supper. Speaking of the passage in Ezekiel dealing with this millennial temple, Walvoord states “As brought out previously, there is no good reason for understanding this passage in other than the literal sense.”(20).

Following Walvoords line of reasoning, “there is no good reason for understanding this passage (dealing with the animal sacrifices) in other than the literal sense.” Where does the dispensationalist derive the teaching that the sacrificial system of the millennial age is to be taken as a memorial then…aside from pure inference? Why should the passages dealing with the physical properties of the temple be taken “in the literal sense” but not the passages dealing with the purpose of the animal sacrifices? If taken in the same literal sense, these animal sacrifices must take on the same purposes and properties as those in the historical context. Thus we have the curious teaching that while leading Dispensationalists would in no way embrace a teaching requiring a return to Judaism for the New Testament Church they in turn impose a return of the Aaronic sacrificial system for the Jews living in the millennial kingdom. Here we run into a problem, as this runs contrary to New Testament teachings.

The book of Hebrews addresses this teaching clearly, stating that those addressed should continue in Christianity and not return to Judaism or its ordinances. Specifically, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshippers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But in these sacrifices there is a remainder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.’ When he said above, ‘Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law) then he added ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”(21).

Guthrie, among others, holds this view as the most widely accepted position among scholars as to the purpose of the book of Hebrews. He states, “This is the most widely held view [that the purpose of Hebrews was to warn Jewish Christians not to return to Judaism] and is supported by the assumption that chapters vi and x suggest that the readers are tempted to apostatize. Since the argument of the Epistle is designed to show Christ’s superiority over the old order, it is further assumed that the apostasy in question must involve a return to Judaism.”(22). It therefore is clear that if the animal sacrifices are to be re-instated in the millennial kingdom, they cannot be for the same purposes as in the Aaronic system, similarities aside.

The Dispensationalists deals with this problem by attempting to maintain their strict literalism while also adhering to the teachings of the New Testament through the inference that these sacrifices will be offered as memorials of the death of Christ and not for the purpose of atonement or covering.(23). Stated by Archer, “We may therefore be confident that the sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel 43 have nothing to do with atonement for sin. Their function will be parallel to that of the Lord’s Supper, which Christ established as a communion ordinance during our present age. The Eucharist of bread and wine is only intended for this present dispensation, however. Jesus said, ‘This do in remembrance of me…For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Cor. 11:24-26). But during the age of the millennial kingdom, when our Lord Jesus Christ will come again to set up the rule of God over all the earth, what type of Communion ordinance will replace our present Lord’s Supper with its bread and wine? Apparently it will be in the form of blood sacrifices once again, yet without any of the atoning function of the Old Testament period.”(24).

The problem with this attempt at explaining the sacrifices in the millennial kingdom as memorials is that, as has been noted by Bell, the text of Ezekiel 40-43, and 45-46 simply will not bear this interpretation. Quoting Bell, “A comparison of the verses from Ezekiel 45 with the verse from Leviticus reveals that in each case the problem is sin, the prescribed remedy is an animal sacrifice, and the promised result is the covering of the sin in the sight of God. Nothing whatever is said of any memorial or commemorative value for the sacrifice in Ezekiel; rather, the precise terminology of Leviticus is used.” He goes on to say “The people of Jeremiah’s day, under the Levitical economy, sought acceptance with God through sacrifice, but it was denied them because of their wickedness. The people of Ezekiel’s vision will seek and find that acceptance through sacrifice. Again, there is no concept of a memorial whatsoever.”(25).

It may be of help here to quote a section of the text in question:

“Then he said to me, “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says, These will be the regulations for sacrificing burnt offerings and sprinkling blood upon the altar when it is built: You are to give a young bull as a sin offering to the priests, who are Levites, of the family of Zadok, who come near to minister before me, declares the Sovereign LORD. You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it. You are to take the bull for the sin offering and burn it in the designated part of the temple area outside the sanctuary.

On the second day you are to offer a male goat without defect for a sign offering, and the altar is to be purified as it was purified with the bull. When you have finished purifying it, you are to offer a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. You are to offer them before the LORD, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the LORD.(26).

For seven days you are to provide a male goat daily for a sin offering; you are also to provide a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it. At the end of these days, from the eighth day on, the priests are to present your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar. Then I will accept you, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

The text makes the point quite clear. The text simply does not support the inference that these offerings are in any way a memorial.

In conclusion, then, it may be stated that Dispensational theology does not hold to the “consistently literal interpretation” that one would expect. In matters where this hermeneutic becomes problematic, they divert to other forms of interpretation. In areas where support for their scheme of thought can be upheld through literal interpretation, they employ this literalism to the letter.

In light of the fact that the theory (i.e., that animal sacrifices will be re-instated in the millennial temple) is largely dependent on this flawed “consistently literal hermeneutic”, it seems necessary to take a closer look at this doctrine. In reevaluating the issue of millennial animal sacrifices, the doctrine of progressive revelation is of the utmost importance. Thus, more questions may have been raised in this paper than answers discovered.

It appears to this writer that another major flaw in Dispensationalism is the almost total rejection of the doctrine of progressive revelation. Many of the objections raised from those in the Dispensational camp appear to ignore this important doctrine. Early on in this work I quoted the very stern words of Smitt. This is as good an example as I can find of a complete abandonment of the doctrine of progressive revelation. Smitt seems to hold the position that inspired writers of the future could not be expected to further define this future temple as anything but a literal building. But the message of the New Testament seems to me to teach that we (the church – both Jew and Gentile, the true believers in Jesus Christ, that Messiah foretold by Ezekiel), would be called the temple of the Holy Spirit within which he dwells. We have had the fortune of experiencing the unfolding of progressive revelation in this case.


. L. Berkof, Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Company, 1941), 666.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Dispensationalism. (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1936), 107.
John Smitt and Carl Laney, Messiah’s Coming Temple: Exekiel’s Prophetic Vision of the Future Temple. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1997), 181.
Robert P. Lightner, The Last Days Handbook. (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN., 1990), 21.
Milton S Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), 454-455.
William Everett Bell, Jr., A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Escatalogy. (New York University, New York, 1967), 359.
C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom. (New York: Charles Scribner Sons, 1961), 50.
Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple. (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1999), 141.
Bell, Inconsistencies in Dispensational Hermeneutics, 86. Here Dr. Bell refers to a work by Charles L. Feinberg entitled God Remembers.
Price, The Christian Connection, 141
Bell, The New Covenant, 176.
Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1994), 362.
Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), 86-87.
John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question. (Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company, 1957), 19.
Dwight J. Pentecost, Things to Come. (Findley, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company, 1958), 519.
John F. Walvoord, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. (Wheaton, Illinois: 1990), 199.
Ibid. 205-206.
Hebrews 10:1-10, RSV.
Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction. (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), 704.
Pentecost, 525.
Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1982), 280.
Bell, Inconsistencies in Dispensational Hermeneutics, 79-80.
Ezekiel 43:18-27, NIV.
Selected Bibliography

Archer, Gleason L. 1982. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company.

Bell, William Everett, Jr., 1967. A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology. New York: New York University.

Berkhof, L. 1941. Systematic Theology. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. 1936. Dispensationalism. Texas: Dallas Seminary Press.

Dillard, Raymond B. and Longman III, Tremper. 1994. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company.

Dodd, C.H. 1961. The Parables of the Kingdom. New York: Charles Scribner Sons.

Guthrie, Donald. 1970. New Testament Introduction. Illinoin: Inter-Varsity Press.

Lightner, Robert P. 1990. The Last Days Handbook. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Pentecost, Dwight J. 1958. Things To Come. Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company.

Price, Randall. 1999. The Coming Last Days Temple. Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.

Ryrie. Charles C. 1965. Dispensationalism Today. Illinois: Moody Press.

Smitt, John and Laney, Carl. 1997. Messiah’s Coming Temple: Ezekiel’s Prophetic Vision of the Future Temple. Michigan: Kregel Publications.

Terry, Milton S. 1979. Biblical Hermeneutics. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Walvoord, John F. 1957. The Rapture Question. Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company.

________1990. The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Illinois: Victor Books.

Ezekiel 43: 18-27, NIV.

Hebrews 10:1-10, RSV.

Lunar Swirls, Magnetic Anomalies, And the Reiner Gamma Formation


Reiner Gamma is the only near side example of the elusive Lunar Swirl features. There exist only three other known examples, two on the moons far side, and another on Mercury. The origin of these surface deposits and their related magnetic anomalies are a matter of debate, which most likely will not be settled until future lunar missions. We shall here consider their nature and possible origins.

See the article located at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/26jun_lunarswirls/ by NASA scientist Dr. Tony Phillips on Reiner Gamma – he cites this paper under “More Information.


Over a period of 20 or so years, this writer has enjoyed observing many different forms of Lunar features. But One of the most intriguing questions about lunar features I have encountered has been the nature of the lunar ray systems. This interest led me to the feature known as Reiner Gamma, centered at the selenographic coordinates Xi= -.851 Eta= +.129, or -59.11 Deg. Longitude, +7.41 Deg. Latitude. At first glance, one gets the distinct impression that this object is nothing more than a curious Ray feature, but upon more detailed investigation, obviously this is not so.

One strange aspect I find concerning this object is its neglect in most of the popular lunar literature. Only when one begins to actively investigate such an object does this become obvious, as happens with Reiner Gamma. It is all but ignored in the popular Lunar works, with only recent exceptions. It has been drawn on many lunar charts, photographed by the Lunar Orbiter and Apollo missions, and many earth based telescopes. Descriptions of objects in its vicinity abound, but it is seldom mentioned outside professional texts. Even such prolific lunar students as Patrick Moore have paid little attention to this feature.

One prominent aspect of this deposit differentiates it from the lunar ray systems. Unlike the major ray features associated with major impact craters such as Tycho, Copernicus, and Kepler, for instance, Reiner Gamma becomes easily visible soon after lunar sunrise and shortly before lunar sunset.

Apparently, Reiner Gamma is a ray-type surficial deposit, possibly composed of substrate material such as powdered rock. Its appearance is that of a swirl-like pattern composed of high and low albedo units (figure _____, Inez Beck). It is the only nearside example of the rare lunar “swirls.” Two additional examples of these features are found on the far side, near Mare Marginis and Mare Ingenii. Based on the most accepted theories of swirl genesis, we might conclude that the only probable correlation between swirl features and the lunar rays to be in the composition of the high albedo units.

This writer’s early hypothesis identified Reiner Gamma with the ray extending from Kepler to approximently XI = -.810 ETA = +.130. On any good lunar photograph of the Reiner Gamma/Kepler region, one will note an uncanny alignment between the Swirl deposit and this western Kepler ray. Others have proposed similar ray-crater candidates, such as the ejecta blanket and diffuse ray system of Cavalerious, also the bright rayed crater Olbers A (8). It must be noted that Reiner Gamma exhibits a higher albedo than the Cavalerious rays, while in contrast the albedo units of both Reiner Gamma and Olbers A exhibit definite similarities.

Reiner Gamma exhibits a total lack of elevation and other forms of relief. For example, I find no association with sub-telescopic secondary impact craters. This writer has conducted a search of Lunar Orbiter photographs showing no conclusive evidence of higher cratering within the boundary of the deposit than in the surrounding terrain. Lunar Ray systems, on the other hand, exhibit an increase in crater counts within their higher albedo units as compared with surrounding terrain. (4).

D.W. Arthur noted that mare ridges similar to those transecting Reiner Gamma to possess slopes 20-50 meters high as measured in other areas. Ridges transecting the deposit cast shadows on telescope photos of the region when taken at low solar illumination. But the deposit itself show no signs of shadows. Thus, the maximum thickness of the deposit is suggested as approx. < 10 meters ( ).

This brings us to the question of origin. Unfortunately, we have no mineralogical samples from these locations. Owing to the lack of physical data besides the significant discovery of a magnetic anomaly associated with this feature (6), we must learn the origin of such rare features from indirect methods, such as telescopic observation, photography and other imagery, photometric, and indirect data from the Apollo, Lunar Orbiter, and Galileo Missions.

There are several leading theories as to the origin of Reiner Gamma and the other swirl features. These include cometary impact, antipodal effects of major basin formation (seismic wave effects), unusual lunar ray systems controlled by the high magnetic fields located at these locations, solar magnetic storm phenomena, and the gaseous alteration from lunar volcanism, to name a few. (5).

We shall here primarily consider the most accepted, that of cometary impact and antipodal effects of major basin formation impact events.

Due to the heavily cratered nature of the surface of the moon and Mercury, it is a natural assumption (assuming impact as the mechanism of most lunar cratering) that at least some of these craters are due to the impact of cometary bodies, especially in light of mass extinction theories, in which major “showers” of comets from the Ort cloud caused extinctions such as that of the dinosaurs.

It has been suggested that the Swirl features indigenous to the Moon and Mercury are of such cometary origin (6). The problem exists as to how to distinguish cratering resulting from cometary impact from that produced as the result of meteoroid impact.

In the cometary impact view of the origin of the lunar swirl features, it was proposed that Reiner Gamma, and those swirls found on the lunar far side, are the result of the impact of a split nucleus comet, with at least two impact points identified: the far side crater Goddard A marking the point of impact of one of these nucleuses, whereas a smaller crater on the rim of O’Day would mark the second point of impact. (6).

Thus, these swirl patterns could be the result of high-velocity imprinting of cometary dust and the fine structure of the coma. The age of these patterns has been suggested as 10 years (6), making these patterns relatively young lunar features.

The idea of fragmented cometary structures orbiting within the inner solar system is nothing new. In recent months this has become especially apparent considering the forthcoming encounter between comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and the planet Jupiter. Additional examples of such fragmented (split nucleus) comets can be cited, such as comet West (1976). Comet Brooks 2 (1886) may also be an example fragmented from the gravitational forces of Jupiter. Evidence of such multiple nucleus comets impacting solar system bodies may be cited. For example, Ganymede exhibits “lined up” craters that suggest the impacting body to have been that of such a multiple or split nucleus object (14). Callisto boasts 13 similar examples, including Gipul Catena, a 620 km impact crater chain (17).

Lunar counterparts for such alignments are not unusual. One choice example lies east of Walter (near Long. 6.45, Lat. -42.41, see IV-107-H3), consisting of an alignment of 6 craters (figure—–) closely matching the Gipul Catena feature on Callisto. While many of these probably resulted from secondary impact of major crater ejecta, it is logical to assume that multiple nucleus cometary impacts are responsible for others. This brings forth the possibility of a new observational program for the identification and cataloging of aligned craters.

It is important to note that besides the swirl pattern at Reiner Gamma, a relatively strong field of magnetization has also been discovered, and other magnetic anomalies in other regions that include those containing the far side swirl features (Hood, 1979). This association could be explained by the cometary-impact model, in which the impacting coma and tail have caused deposits and possibly altered the physical properties of the upper regolith in these locations. Shultz and Srnka suggested the impacting coma gases could have produced concentrations of magnetite in the dark areas of these swirls. (6).

The absence of a global magnetic field on the Moon is a well established fact, dating from the early days of lunar probes. These strong localized magnetic fields found in association with the swirl features, in addition to lunar samples displaying strong, stable components of natural remnant magnetization (NRM) add credence to both the cometary impact and the antipodal magnetization theories discussed below, and are cited as possible evidence to support each model. Strangway (1973) proposed the hypothesis that lunar magnetic anomalies were the result of meteoroid impacts (18).

The second view considered here on the origin of the Swirl patterns suggests quite a different scenario from that proposed in the cometary impact model. It has been suggested that major Mare formation (i.e., the Imbrium impact event) lead to antipodal effects, such as subdued pits, hillocks, fractures, and chaotic textures (9), besides the swirl features.

In this hypothesis, the swirl markings on both the Moon and Mercury are attributed to be the result of major impacts diametrically opposed (antipodal) to the swirl’s positions. It is noted that the swirl features found at Mare Inginii, Mare Marginis, and on Mercury are located directly antipodal to Mare Imbrium, Mare Orientale, and the Mercurian Caloris Basin, respectively.

While Reiner Gamma is typical of the lunar swirls, it must be noted that it is not located at the antipode of a major basin, although some argument can be made as to its antipodal source being the far side feature Tsiolkovsky.

Hood (et al., 1979) noted magnetic signatures at the antipodes of 26 ringed impact basins, the strongest of which were at the antipodes of young ringed basins. All the Lunar Swirl features are correlated with such strong magnetic anomalies, with the Reiner Gamma feature marking the position of the strongest of these. Also, it was noted in the same work that even the older basins reflected fields at their antipodes, although these fields were relatively weak. All these observations seem to strengthen the antipodal basin point of view.

In closing there is another possibility that I will address briefly, the possibility that lunar and Mercurian swirl features might be the result of impact ejecta acted upon by localized fields of magnetism, independent of the impact event producing the anomalies themselves. Thus, both these theories might be necessary to explain these swirl patterns. In both cases, it has been suggested that these magnetic anomalies and the swirl patterns themselves resulted in some way from the impact of another body with the surface of the moon.

Both models attempt to explain the magnetic anomalies described above, and either could explain the swirl patterns as the result of ejecta having been acted upon by these fields of magnetism.
by Marvin W. Huddleston


1. Kuiper, G.P., ed. Orthographic Atlas of the Moon, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1960
2. Moore, Patrick, personal communication, dated 9-11-77.
3. Bowker, D.E. and Hughes, J.K., Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon, NASA SP-206
4. Oberbeck, V.R., “A Mechanism for the Production of Lunar Crater Rays.” The MOON, 2, 263-278, (1970).
5. Taylor, S.R., Planetary Science: A Lunar Perspective, Houston: Lunar Planetary Institute, 1982. 100, 367-368.
6. Schultz, H; and Srnka, J., “Cometary Collisions on the Moon and Mercury.” Nature, 284, 22-26, (1980).
7. Hood, L.L., Conf. Lunar Highlands Crust, 72-77 (Lunar & Planetary Institute, Houston, 1979).
8. Hood, L.L.; and Coleman, P.S., The Moon: Sources of the Crustal Magnetic Anomalies, Science, 204, 53-57, (1979).
9. Schultz, H; and Gault, E., “Seismic Effects from Major Basin Formations on the Moon and Mercury.” The Moon, 12, 159-177, (1975).
10. Corliss, R. , The Moon and the Planets, A Catalog of Astronomical Anomalies, Glen Arm, M.D.: The Sourcebook Project. ALE5, ALZ3, (1985).
11. Schultz, P. (1976), Moon Morphology Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 420-423.
12. Hood, L.L.; & William, C.R. (1989). “The Lunar Swirls: Distribution and Possible Origins.” Proc. Lunar & Planetary Science Conference, No. 19, pp. 99-113.
13. Hood, L.L.; Coleman, P.J., Jr.; & Wilhelms, D.E. (1979). “Lunar Nearside Magnetic Anomalies.” Proc. Lunar & Planetary Science Conference, No. 10, Vol. 3, pp. 2235-2257.
14 Kaufmann, William J., Discovering the Universe, pp. 198, 174.
15. Spudis, Paul; & Pieters, Carle. (1991). “Global and Regional Data About the Moon.” Cpt. 10 in: Heiken, Grant; Vaniman, Davis; & French, Bevan M. (eds.). Lunar Sourcebook. A User’s Guide to the Moon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 605.
16. Lin, R.P., (1979). “High spatial resolution measurements of surface magnetic fields of the lunar frontside.” Proc. Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, No. 10, pp. 2259-2264.
17 Beatty, K., and Levy, D. (1993). “Awaiting the Crash.” Sky & Telescope, Vol. 87, No. 1, pp. 40-44.
18. Strangway D.W., Gose W., and McConnell R.K.. (1973). “Lunar magnetic anomalies and the Cayley Formation.” Nature 246, 112-114.

We Often Cannot See What God is Doing

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.

Prov 19:21 (RSV)

My thoughts have been heavily directed lately bemoaning the fact that I left the business world and my career behind to earn a Master Degree some 8 years ago.  In the meantime, it has cost me about $500K in lost income and has not produced the results I had expected.  The past 3 years have been a similar experience; I poured myself into something that I expected to produce certain results which have not occurred, and now I feel the past 3 years have been a complete waste of my time.  Have you any regrets?

My pursuit of a graduate degree was no waste of time, don’t get me wrong.  I believe that I strengthened greatly my ability to reason, communicate, and be successful in whatever endeavor I undertake.  And I met a lot of folks there who were there expressly to use the experience and achievement to make themselves the best possible employee in the secular world that they can be.  But I find myself looking back on the whole thing asking myself , “but at what cost?”  One of the things it cost me that was more than monetary was my telescope.  For some 30 years I had dreamed of owning a research grade Astronomical Telescope.  I used it to study not only the wonders of the Universe (we even saw the impact scars of Shumaker Levy 9 on Jupiter in this incredible instrument) but I studied the Selenology (the Geology of the Moon) with it in detail I never thought visually possible.  Within 3 months of graduating with a Master Degree, the Starmaster had to be sold and I have not had a telescope since.

Marvin Huddleston and his former 18″ Starmaster Newtonian Telescope

I am certain that I am not alone; I think we all find ourselves with regrets.  That “what was I thinking” feeling hits everyone at some point or another.  Most people I have known I would say all have certain regrets and second guessing of their decisions that they undergo.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

Deut 29:29 (NASB)

One of the certainties of life is that you will make decisions, and some of those decisions may result in your looking back and thinking you made a mistake.  But the verse above reveals that God is God; He is sovereign, and He directs our steps and the paths that we take.

The steps of a man are from the LORD, and he establishes him in whose way he delights; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD is the stay of his hand.

Psalms 37:23-24 (RSV)

For those of us who look upon these things and worry we have really screwed up, this is a great comfort.  We may not be able to see what God is doing, and may not understand it until we can stand before Him and ask, but God is God, and His purpose will be established!

Are You Entertaining Angels Unaware?

Image: farconville / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Heb 13:2 (NASB)

Obviously this verse is talking about instances when men have spoken and interacted with God’s angelic messengers, such as the instance when Lot interacted with the judging angels sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  These events probably happen even today, and when they happen they are seldom identified by the individuals who experience them for whatever reason.  When most people read this verse, it is these types of events that usually come to mind.  However, I believe there is another application of this verse that you may not see.

The term angel is sometimes used in Scripture as a metaphor for God’s messenger.  God often uses normal everyday humans to be His carefully prepared messenger in various circumstances.  And I believe God often places these messengers in strategic places and at strategic times to bring about His divine will.  All too often, though, I fear we look past these chosen vessels of God looking for our own versions, ending up with a lot of teachers “tickling itching ears.”  Scripture warns us that the day is coming when God’s message will not be heard:

“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

2 Tim 4:2-4 (NASB)

The messengers of God seldom received standing ovations, and they were seldom welcomed with open arms to those to whom God sent them.  Their message is often resisted, because man does not want to be told by God that they are “rebellious.”

“As for them, whether they listen or not—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them…speak My words to them.”Ezek 2:5,7 (NASB)

I often wonder when God uses more ordinary men to preach the Gospel, who call sin, sin, why it is that God’s people so viciously attack His messenger?  I see this more and more these days, especially in light of our psychologized society.  People today do not want to be called sinners, they want to be told they are sick and it is not their fault.  Liars are not liars today, they are told they have compulsive liar syndrome; drunkards want to be told they are Dipsomaniac, and it is not their fault and not sin they have an illness.  On the subject of adultery, one web page states, “One type of affair, “I Can’t Say NO!” is characterized by addictive tendencies. Infidelity (as well as pornography, strip clubs, online chatting, compulsive masturbation, etc.) may be a part of the sexual addiction (http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.com/2006/10/adultery-as-sexual-addiction-should.html).”

Stand up as God’s messenger and call sin, sin, and you will find you have few friends.  One thing is certain, you will not be on the short list with many pulpit committees!  But if you are called of God, speak God’s words to them, whether they listen or not!



Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

Eph 4:26-27 (NASB)

Well, as I start this blog I have to confess that I have blown it here more than once in my experiences.  All too often I can relate to the teaching of Paul in how hard it is to know what we are to do as Christians and yet we do exactly the opposite.  Take a look at Paul’s teaching:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:15 (NASB)

Knowing what God expects of us and failing to do them causes us to commit several sins.  First of all, we allow ourselves to become angry (and sin in the process), losing our temper.  We then allow the sun to go down on our anger (falling asleep angry).  We also illustrate what Paul speaks of when he says that even he (and I am sure he never responded to anything as badly as I do) did not know what he was doing; instead of practicing the righteousness of God he did the exact opposite.

When we as Christians fail in such cases, not only do we commit sin but we also open the door to Satan and give him the opportunity to use whatever issue we are angry about to drive a wedge between us and our covenant marriage partner.  Many, many marriages are destroyed by this and in each such case Satan gains a victory.  In these victories, the very image that Christ instituted as an example of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:31-32)  are tainted before the watching world.

In my case, a trigger to depression can be the way I react to situations.  When I, as Paul, find that I react in the complete opposite as to how I should, I get depressed.  One of the things I get argued with about is the fact that in every case I have ever heard about (aside from the VERY rare actual medical causes of depression) depression can always be traced back to sin issues in a persons life.  When I react like a pagan is expected to do, knowing better, I get depressed in myself.  Just like Paul proclaims, “For what I am doing, I do not understand.” In other words, I think “where did that come from?” Therefore, my sinful reaction to a situation is the trigger in me for the depression.

I have heard it said that “The problem is often not the real problem.”  Often in the covenant marriage relationship when disagreements arise, we become angry over secondary issues, when the real problem is allowed to go unresolved.  It is easy to have some hidden agenda, disappointment, etc. which makes us react to other more minor issues in very un-Christian ways.  In these cases we have failed usually to follow the command to not allow the sun to set on our anger.  In other words, the real problem in the first place was not dealt with thoroughly from the start, but allowed to fester and eat at us until we react to an entirely different matter in ways that are completely inappropriate.

A failure I have is the fact that I fail in applying Phil 2:3 in such cases:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Phil 2:3-4 (NASB)

If we as Christian couples communicate effectively, we can prevent the Devil from gaining a foothold, and in the process we deny him the opportunity!


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