Continuing my church rants, I want to deal with a vocabulary word, the dreaded word 'altar.' Ever hear this word when describing a place in the building? Time to run.
In stock Bibles, say an NIV, there are 381 occurences of this word. 24 of them are in the New Testament. You should see immediately this is a mostly Old Testament idea.
We currently do not think any of the locations of the word altar in the New Testament are inspired. The term is never central to the plot. There is a big revival at the start of the Book of Acts. It does not start with an altar call, for example.
All of the NT references seem to fall by the Acts 15 rule that suggests staying away from passages about sacrifice. Maybe the term survives as inspired in some negative sense, which we still don't understand, we will see.
Before we ever started working on the problems of additions, altars, as a concept were trouble. Let me review.
Many of the original locations for Christian churches were chosen because they replaced locations where there had been pagan altars. This means, at least, places of animal sacrifice.
There is full documentation on this point dealing with the Christianization of Russia, in Kiev, about 1000 years ago. The Primary Russian Chronicle deals with site selection at the time. So the term altar, used in churches, does have a direct meaning to previous use of these ancient sites. But why would anyone use the term in Church in an ongoing way?
By the way, anyone who harms an animal, for any reason other than food, is at high risk of harming people too. Many states within the USA have laws on this. Animal cruelty is a serious, well known, precusor for cruelty to people.
Someone charged with animal cruelty, who has children, will in some states get regular visits from the local Child Protective Services people. Though I generally don't like state interference with families, this is probably a good thing. Making sure the kids are safe is important in these cases. No state in the USA has a similar Elder Protective Service, nor similar laws. The risks to the elderly are the same as kids, but I digress.
I once read the account of a professor who lost his job because he did statistical regression tests against child abductions dates. They cluster in the days ahead of pagan holidays. Both across history and apparently present day. His evidence was kids do disappear at certain times more than others. This is apparently for a certain reason. But, he was also tangling with those who support such sh*t, and they defunded him. These practices still go on today by people who rule.
Anywhere animal sacrifice takes place should automatically be assumed to be a place of human sacrifice too. The first precursors the second.
Think about this. Assume for a moment that a modern prophetic pharaoh, whomever that person actually may be, still does human sacrifice. What might Covid be to them? Their biggest human sacrifice ever? Yep.
In the Text
This general pagan religious practice is seen in precursor form in First Kings 13:2. Here a prediction is made that priest's bones will be burned on the altar. This in retaliation for what was going on at the altar at the time.
This is written to be polite. Remember the principle, you reap what you sow? What must have been going by the priests in order for them to reap their own bones being burned on their own altar? Figure this one out for yourself.
I won't go into detail here, but a careful read of the history of Solomon's temple location might suggest that specific location was mostly ruins most of the history of the Judean kings.
There was a mysterious earthquake that destroyed the building. There was trouble rebuilding it later for lack of funding. We will see if this holds when the text is recovered, but this is a possibility.
Joshua does not put up with altars, especially those associated with him.
So when I hear someone in church describe the front of their church as an altar, I cringe.
Certain words are OK. A stage? Fine. The front? Fine. The pulpit? If they are teaching, fine. The altar? NOT FINE.
Come down to the altar? NO.
How about an altar call? NO.
Anyone using that term is ignorant. If they are trained, degreed, and paid to tend such a place, then they should not be considered ignorant. They are part of a serious problem.
Run from such a place, don't walk.