Trouble in the Land They Call the ‘Fifth Gospel’
BY TIM DRAKE
August 6-12, 2006 Issue | Posted 8/7/06 at 9:00 AM
Steve Ray led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land just
before new hostilities flared up between
The businessman, Catholic convert and author is in the midst of a 10-year, 10-part video series titled “The Footprints of God,” which looks at salvation history from Abraham to the doctors of the Church through the places where they lived.
Ray spoke with Register senior writer Tim Drake.
What’s your take on the current wave of violence in the
The violence is overblown. The
television shows the same bomb going off every five minutes when it’s not that
way at all. It’s taking place near the border. If you’re in Tel Aviv or
Basically, you’ve got a guerrilla
group within a legitimate country that is trying to destabilize it. Hezbollah
You’ve just completed David and Solomon in your “Footprints of God” series. How many programs are remaining?
There will be 10 total when we’re finished — spanning from Abraham to the doctors of the Church. There are four left. We’re currently working on the apostolic fathers — Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Irenaeus. They are the hinge figures between the apostles and us. They knew the apostles. They are the men who faced backwards in history, who received the deposit of faith from the apostles, and then turned around and handed it on to the future all the way down to us.
After that, we’ll have one on Abraham, one on the doctors of the Church, and one on Elijah and Elisha. It will take us another four or five years to finish the whole series. It will have been a 10-year project.
How many countries have you visited?
So far we’ve been to
You’ve been to places that most of us will never see. What have you seen, that others may not be aware of, that helps to prove the historicity of the Gospels?
In the Gospels, we read about the
man born blind whom Jesus puts mud onto his face. Jesus tells the man to go to
the pool of Siloam, about a quarter of a mile down the hill to the right of the
In addition, if you go to any antiquities dealer, you can purchase denarii coins with Caesar’s face on them. A simple thing like that helps to prove Jesus’ words when he asks the Pharisees to tell him whose face appears on their coins.
How can we know for certain that the locations are where guides say that they are?
Some tour guides will say that we can’t know for certain. I tell the pilgrims that the reason we can know these are the real sites is because the eastern Semitic people cared about things like that. The oral tradition passed it on from one generation to the next.
That’s why 4,000 years since Abraham, we still know where Rachel is buried. Eight hundred
years after Rachel was buried, when Saul was looking for his donkeys, Samuel
tells him to go to the tomb of Rachel to find his donkeys. Today, you can go to
Geographically, are there things you’ve seen or experienced that support Scripture?
Sure, in Scripture it tells us
that the apostles went fishing at night. Today, fisherman still fish at night
The fish are able to see. Even when the moon is out, they can see the net, so they fish at night because the fish are more blind and get caught in the net.
In Scripture, the fishermen gather
The writers of the Gospel were eyewitnesses. These things reinforce the historicity and the truth of what the Gospel tells us.
Are there places where the archaeology supports Scripture?
Yes. It was believed by some that
Pontius Pilate was created to be a fall guy. Even up to the 1960s some
theologians didn’t think he was real. However in 1961 they found in Caesarea
Maritime a stone slab that had been turned upside down and used as a step. They
found engraved on it, “Pontius Pilate, prefect of [
More recently, while doing a dig in Tel Dan, they found a 3,000-year-old stone that refers to the House of David. These are just two stones that were incidental discoveries.
In our David video, we travel to
The Scriptures weren’t trying to
prove anything to us. They were telling us the story of David. Yet we can use
them to prove that these things are where they said they are. It reinforces the
fact that this is true history. Ten years ago, we took our children to the
Our children always believed mom
and dad, but when they went to the
Are there experiences you’ve had that help to prove God exists?
There are things you can only
learn from the land. When we were in
However, there is perhaps no more powerful example for the existence of God than the Jewish people themselves. You don’t find Hittites or Amorites. If you go into any Borders bookstore, there is no Hittite section, but they do have a huge Jewish section. What people are more literate, productive and artistic? For 2,000 years, they didn’t have a land. You would think they would be absorbed and disappear. For an ethnic people to be only 13 million and have as much influence on the world is an incredible thing. God made certain promises to Abraham and his descendants. When I look at the Jewish people, I say God does exist and he keeps his promises. They are proof of God’s fidelity to his promises.
What do you have planned next?
I’m contemplating doing another 10-part series on the “Footprints of the Faithful” that would cover the history of the Church, covering two centuries for each DVD.
Tim Drake writes from
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