Feedback and commentary on sunglasses

Dear James,

I appreciate your blog regarding sunscreen and sunglasses.  I’ve never used sunscreen and I learned this from my dad. As he told me, God made us so that if we spent as much time (as possible) outdoors then we would build up a natural resistance to our skin being burnt by the sun. Now that I’m retired, I still spend most of the day outside and rarely even wear a hat; I can spend all day on the tractor wearing just shorts, t-shirt and boots and do not burn.

Regarding sunglasses, I got into the habit years ago of gazing directly at the sun while it is low on the horizon, either in the morning or evening.  It really seems as if I can feel the effect throughout my body. I know I can certainly be out in the noonday sun and I never feel the need to shade my eyes.

I’ll take this opportunity as well to tell you how much [his wife—name withheld-JWB] and I appreciate and profit by your blogs and studies. Your teachings on the Arian Controversy have been excellent; I did not know there was so much strife within the church in this period.  It lends perspective to issues today within the body of Christ.

In the love of Jesus our Master,

(Name withheld)

Comments by JWB: Thanks for the feedback, my friend. I just have to comment on your statement that you gaze directly at the sun while it is low on the horizon, either in the morning or evening. Since you do not wear glasses, are of retirement age, and presumably have been doing that gazing for many years, it apparently has not caused you any damage. But it reminded me of a little incident which happened when I was a child.

I must have been somewhere between five and eight years old. We lived on a farm. I was outside “helping” my mom to hang out the laundry on the clothes line in the back yard. She was telling me about how good the sun is for our health. And that we get vitamin D from the sun. She kept on hanging the clothes and then suddenly noticed I was no longer at her side. She turned and saw that I was staring into the sky.

“What are you doing?” she asked me.

“I’m looking at the sun to get some vitamin D,” I replied.

“Oh, no, no, no!” she said alarmed. “You should not ever stare directly at the sun because it can burn your eyes.”

I do not recall her using the word “retina,” but of course, I now understand what she meant. But I never did stare directly at the sun again. But your practice of staring at it very low in the sky interests me. Undoubtedly, it does not cause ill effects because the light is so much more diluted by the atmosphere in the very early morning and late evening. I may experiment with …

Sunglasses and sunscreen lotions harmful?

I quit wearing sunglasses in 1976. Why? I’ll get to that in a moment. But now that summer is here, slather on the sunscreen, right? Better think twice. This article from Natural News came across my desk a week ago with the provocative pull-quote: “almost half of the most popular sunscreens on the market actually accelerate the development of malignant skin cancer cells.” Here’s an excerpt from: The cancer-causing sunscreen protection racket. Following that, I will provide more information on sunglasses and coatings on eyeglasses.

By Paul Fassa

For starters, there’s no real proof that sunscreens actually prevent most skin cancers. Yet your dermatologist is probably robotically advising you to slather on a toxic sunscreen as a proven skin cancer preventive.
Did your doctor mention studies showing that people who spend a greater percentage of their time outdoors have the lowest risk of melanoma?
For example, office workers have a greater melanoma risk than farmers, construction workers and even lifeguards! Based on population studies, melanoma rates are higher in Minnesota than Arizona, as well as higher in Norway than in the south of France.
Another pesky fact: Melanoma often occurs in dark places shielded from the sun, including the soles of the feet, the genitals, inside the nose and mouth, and under the fingernails.
The evidence indicates that those who spend more time in the sun without burning have less risk for melanoma than those who spend very little time in the sun. Countries where sunscreen is slavishly used like the USA have the greatest rates of skin cancer.
Dr. Marianne Berwick of the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reviewed the top studies on sunscreens and cancer. Her conclusion: “There is no evidence that use of sunscreen at any age offers any real protection against malignant melanoma.”
Back in 2007, the FDA “tentatively concluded that the available evidence fails to show that sunscreen use alone helps [prevent] skin cancer.” In fact, malignant melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, is on the rise despite years of wholehearted sunscreen use by the public; the number of melanoma skin cancer cases has tripled over the past 35 years.
The most common type of cancer in the United States is melanoma. Approximately 68,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma yearly, while another 48,000 are diagnosed with a type of early form of the disease. An additional 2 million people are treated for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer yearly. Yet the annual death rate is less than 1,000. [End of excerpt]

The rest of the article and the author’s sources are here.

This article reminded me of why in 1976 I chose not to ever again wear sunglasses. (The only exception has been when I have to drive on a bright day having just had an eye exam where they put pupil-dilating drops in your eyes.) Other than that, I find that the way God created our eyes with automatic adjustment mechanisms to handle varying intensities of light works very well. Thank you, Father!

So after …

Divinity of Christ, part 5—The Arian Controversy, part 3

We have not yet finished our study of the history of the Arian Controversy or the Arian Heresy, as it is known in church history. The Nicene Council marked two important “firsts.” One is that for the first time, the church found itself being dominated by the political leadership of the head of civil government.

But the bishops who gathered in council at Nicea were so preoccupied with solving the problem of who was the heretic that the issue of the relationship between church and state escaped their notice. Yet, this marked the beginning of what was to become an issue with which the world has had to contend ever since.

Secondly, this was the first time that civil punishment was exacted upon the heretics. Previously, synods of church officials removed from office those deemed heretics, and as in the case of Arius, banished him into exile. But that was church government. Now the civil government was exacting punishment. The original Nicene Creed also included the following anathema:

“And those who say there was a time when he [the Son] was not; and he was made out of nothing, or out of another substance or thing, or the Son of God is created, or changeable, or alterable;—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic church.”

The word “catholic there is a lower case “c”, and it simply referred to the universal church, because the Roman church had not yet arrogated supremacy to itself, so that there was no such thing at that time as what we today call the Roman Catholic church (Catholic with an upper case “c”).

Nearly all the bishops signed the Nicene Creed, even Eusebius, the church historian, whose majority party and semi-Arian position, was overruled by the emperor. However,

the other Eusebius, the Bishop of Nicomedia, while he, too, signed the creed, he did not sign the appended anathema. And for this, he was deposed, and he presumably lost his nifty palace in a sheriff’s auction (or the equivalent in those days) because he was banished by the order of Emperor Constantine.

Two Egyptian bishops, plus Arius himself, of course, refused to sign the creed and for this they were banished to Illyria, which was located on the western side of the Balkan peninsula, roughly the area occupied by modern Albania.

I stated that this marked the first time in church history that the civil government was not only in a dominant position over the church (excepting the church’s infancy, of course, when the Roman state murdered and martyred untold numbers of Christians), but that it was also the first time that the state enforced punishment upon those deemed as heretics.

This opened the door of what was to become a very long and dark period of centuries where horrible tortures and deaths were inflicted upon those adjudged as heretics, and in some cases, upon those who were only accused of departing from the orthodox faith.

Although the word “orthodoxy” means “right thinking,” it …

Divinity of Christ, part 4— The Arian Controversy, part 2

We left off last time noting that the whole Eastern church was being disrupted over the controversy sparked by Arius’ views on the deity of Christ. The Emperor Constantine first attempted to have a proxy priest by the name of Hosius mediate between Alexander and Arius, but that failed. Then certain bishops suggested that Constantine called a church-wide (i.e., an ecumenical) council to settle the matter, along with other lesser but nonetheless divisive issues, such as when to celebrate Easter.

In 325 AD, 318 bishops met in council at Nicea in the province of Bithynia in northern Asia Minor. This is the first so-called ecumenical council, although personally I think that the one described in the Book of Acts in chapter 15 might actually qualify as the first. The 318 bishops represented about one-sixth of all the bishops in the whole church, with most of the 318 coming from the Eastern portion of the empire. Less than 10 percent were from the western side.

Shockingly, or perhaps at the order of Emperor Constantine, no contemporaneous journals were kept of the proceedings. What is clear is that a young, 30-something archdeacon named Athanasius, who was accompanying Bishop Alexander, put up a brilliant defense of the homoousios position. Homoousios is a Greek wordwhich means that the Son is 100 percent God, not anything less, and of the same substance and dignity as the Father.

There were actually three views set forth at the Nicene Council. In the minority, was Athanasius, who made an impassioned case for the homoousios position. His passion arose from the fact that for him it was a salvation issue. The question was: could Christ save man if He were merely a demigod? Half a God. In other words, was the Son’s sacrifice for sin valid and efficacious if He were anything less than true God. I agree with Athanasius and we will come to the Scriptural basis for that position in due time.

In the opposite corner at the council was Arius and his followers, also in a minority, who contended for the hetero-ousios position. Again, a Greek word, but Greek was the language of the council and momentous decisions hung on these words. Let me take a moment to break them down. We can easily understand them because we can relate them to words we are all familiar with in English. Homosexual refers to one attracted to the same sex. Homo = same.

Arius Eusebius Athanasius
Hetero-ousios Homoi-ousios Homo-ousios
Different essence Similar essence Same essence
Arian heresy Semi-Arian heresy Orthodoxy

Normal people are hetero-sexual. Hetero-means different or another. So,when Arius spoke, he used the word hetero-ousios to describe the essence of the Son. He said the Son was of another or a different essence than the Father.

So we have Arius with his hetero-ousios position and Athanasius with the homo-ousios position—and both held minority viewpoints at the council. Also in attendance at the council was the highly respected church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea.

Eusebius …

Divinity of Christ, part 3—The Arian Controversy

While some may distinguish between the divinity and the deity of Jesus Christ, in this series, I use them interchangeably, and Webster’s 1828 dictionary agrees. Of course, there are other meanings to divinity nowadays—after all, divinity is also a type of candy, isn’t it?

The divinity of Christ is not some minor issue on the level of women’s haircuts and skirt lengths. It is one of the very fundamental foundations of the Christian faith. It is one of the most pivotal doctrines in all of Christianity. As we proceed in this study, I believe I can show you that if Christ is not God, then our faith in the resurrection from the dead into immortality is void and meaningless. It is that important!

We are going to spend much time in this study actually comparing Scripture with Scripture to demonstrate to you the truth of the Godhood of Christ. But before we get into the detailed Scripture study, it is necessary that I give you some historical background on this doctrine.

Speaking in general, it is a sad fact that the Christian people in America today are so ignorant of church history that they could correctly be labeled as illiterate in that area. As George Santayana remarked—and he was only paraphrasing others—Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

This is applicable in the church as well. If Christians were well-versed in church history, they would then recognize that what they think are new revelations or new doctrines are, in fact, just ancient heresies dressed up in 21st century verbiage. Gnosticism comes to mind. It is very prominent—even pervasive in America today, but seldom under that name, and hence it goes unrecognized for what it is.

So I am are going to spend several essays, at the very least, presenting the history of the controversy surrounding the deity of Christ. As you will see, it was not necessarily as cut-and-dried in the early centuries as we today might see it. As I have stated several times now, this questioning the divinity of Christ Jesus is nothing new.

Upon Jesus’ resurrection, we find the gospel account tells us in Matthew 28 that the chief priests and unbelieving elders among the Jews paid a large sum of money to the soldiers guarding the tomb so that they would spread the lie that our Lord’s disciples came secretly by night and stole away His corpse. (This is part of Dr. Hugh Schonfield’s fable, The Passover Plot, as well.)

Matthew 28: 11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.